McKesson announces live RFID application for real-time tracking

Pittsburgh 18 December 2006McKesson, a health care services, automation and information technology company, has implemented Horizon Real-Time Location System, the company's new radio frequency identification (RFID) solution, at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center, Spartanburg, South Carolina. Following a comprehensive evaluation period, Spartanburg is using the RFID solution to wirelessly track and electronically record the location history of 550 intravenous (IV) infusion pumps throughout its facility.


With the Horizon Real-Time Location System application tracking the exact location of infusion pumps, Spartanburg clinicians know with assurance whether IV pumps are readily available for patient use. Administrators can better track the pumps for technical upgrades and compliance as well as optimize use of an expensive equipment item.

"IV pumps are vital to patient safety, so it's essential to let caregivers know promptly when and where they're available", stated Ray Shingler, Spartanburg's chief information officer. "Each infusion pump can cost as much as $10.000 and requires regular software upgrades. Being able to track these devices via a wireless-based RTLS helps us to address multiple safety, compliance and asset utilization issues. The RF-technology is working so well that we look forward to integrating it with our existing McKesson applications, such as Horizon Surgical Manager, to maximize patient throughput."

Horizon Real-Time Location System, a key component of McKesson's RFID solution set, uses Spartanburg's existing 802.11 wireless network along with active RFID tags affixed to all of the hospital's IV pumps. Using a standard Web-based browser, caregivers, bio-medical staff and administrative personnel can view a map of the facility to pinpoint the location of all tagged assets. Additionally, Spartanburg uses powerful alerts functionality to send automated text and e-mail alerts when an IV pump has entered off-limits area, such as a stairwell or a building exterior.

"McKesson is leading the way in integrating RFID technology with health care IT applications", stated David Souerwine, president of McKesson's automation unit. "Our solution leverages the existing RF infrastructure within the hospital. Many companies are charging to install proprietary RF networks, and that's not a good use of capital. The successful go-live at Spartanburg is a critical milestone for us as we work to quickly develop and bring to market RFID-enabled solutions to help our hospital customers increase medication safety, improve productivity and lower the total cost of care."

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) is one of South Carolina's largest community-based health care providers. Offering the latest in cancer, heart, women's and orthopaedic care, SRHS is also home to South Carolina's only accredited stroke and chest pain centres, in addition to the Village at Pelham in Greer. SRHS has been named a "Top 100" hospital for computer technology and has received awards for patient satisfaction and nursing care. In 2005, Gibbs Regional Cancer Center became one of only six cancer centres on the globe to form an alliance with the world-famous M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

McKesson Corporation is a health care services and information technology company dedicated to helping its customers deliver high-quality health care by reducing costs, streamlining processes, and improving the quality and safety of patient care. Over the course of its 173-year history, McKesson has grown by providing pharmaceutical and medical-surgical supply management across the spectrum of care; health care information technology for hospitals, physicians, homecare, and payers; hospital and retail pharmacy automation; and services for manufacturers and payers designed to improve outcomes for patients. More company news is available in the VMW November 2006 article Catholic Health System Home Care selects McKesson's advanced remote monitoring solution to reshape home care delivery.

Leslie Versweyveld

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