The Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn., is awaiting grants for the second phase of an initiative in which radio frequency identification tags are affixed to patients to track their movements and ease crowding in the emergency department, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided $250,000 to the center last year to test the program (Roberts, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 12/5). The hospital, which worked with FedEx to develop the technology, used the tracking system to help shift workers or patients during delays in the ED. Hospital officials estimated that demand for services exceeded available beds by about 19% (iHealthBeat, 6/11/2003).
The hospital acquired 23 RFID readers and tracking software, the Commercial Appeal reports. Hospital workers can use the system to send ED patients who need X-rays and CT scans to the room with the shortest line, said Brian Janz, associate director of the FedEx Center for Supply Chain Management at the University of Memphis. One of the challenges now is to find the best way to affix to patients the tags, which are the size of a pack of gum, the Commercial Appeal reports ( Memphis Commercial Appeal, 12/5).
The hospital, which is the region's only trauma center, was one of 10 hospital systems chosen to participate in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Urgent Matters initiative to reduce ED crowding and encourage local support of safety net institutions, which provide free or low-cost medical care to people with little or no insurance (iHealthBeat, 6/11/2003).