UAE Ministry Of Health Uses RFID To Track 1 Million Health Care Assets

- Sep 09, 2019-

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Health (MOH) is currently deploying 1 million RFID tags for 147 agencies, one of the largest RFID deployment projects in the Middle East to date. The system is provided by RFID solutions company OgTech Technology Solutions and includes the location to manage the medical, IT and mechanical assets of the entire UAE Ministry of Health hospitals, health centers, clinics and administrative buildings.

Hospitals and clinics say that with RFID technology, they can improve asset inventory efficiency and frequency; nurses and medical institutions can find the tools they need to care for patients; maintenance personnel can quickly identify any need for repair, cleaning Or maintenance equipment. According to OgTech Regional Manager Khaled Mohamed Ezz El-Din, the UAE Ministry of Health is deploying the system in phases, and so far the system has been put into use in its top 10 institutions. Their goal is to extend the technology to all 147 institutions by the first quarter of 2020.

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As a subsidiary of the Osman Group, OgTech is a systems integrator specializing in RFID and security-based solutions with four offices in the Middle East and the United States, based in Egypt. Ezz El-Din recalled that the company first contacted the UAE Ministry of Health in 2017 and proposed an UHF-based asset tracking solution that prompted the UAE Ministry of Health to begin large-scale deployment of RFID.

Every agency in the UAE Ministry of Health is responsible for hundreds or thousands of assets, including wheelchairs, pumps and diagnostic equipment, some of which need to be quickly positioned for patient convenience. In special cases, devices are also borrowed between different organizations. To ensure that every location has the necessary equipment, the staff needs to scan the bar code of each area or item in the room for inventory. However, this is a time-consuming process and it is not possible to count the items as many times as the Ministry of Health wishes.

As a result, OgTech worked with the UAE Ministry of Health to develop ways to optimize its operations management. Ezz El-Din said, “We proposed the design,” the Ministry of Health then launched a tender, 10 companies bid, and finally OgTech's solution won the bid. The OgTech solution consists of passive UHF RFID handheld readers for use in clinics or hospitals. OgTech offers a variety of RFID tag types, primarily from the Smartrac Group, as well as Zebra printers to print and encode labels before use due to the many different shapes and materials. Labels made of metal crafts are selected for labeling on metal surfaces.

OgTech's solutions include not only the management of medical equipment such as pumps, wheelchairs and hospital beds, but also office furniture, IT equipment and mechanical and electrical components for the operation of each facility. This allows staff to identify fixed assets such as generators and surveillance cameras for easy maintenance; in addition, some equipment is installed outdoors, such as air conditioning units up to 50 degrees Celsius. So, Ezz El-Din says the most rugged tags can be used in this type of scene.

For all system applications, OgTech hopes that the system will help hospital or clinic staff to do an effort to complete asset inventory or find items in addition to existing tasks. Therefore, software that acquires and manages read data is integrated with each organization's existing management software. As a result, each tag information is associated with asset data stored in the software. Ezz El-Din said, “We very much hope that all business users will recognize the convenience and friendliness of this system integrated with the Ministry of Health ERP system. We also work closely with their ERP team to integrate our equipment directly into In their ERP, to avoid any duplication of work between interfaces."

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System integration was completed by the end of 2018, and from this year onwards, the UAE Ministry of Health will mark all its assets. OgTech is providing each organization with training on how to use RFID technology. Each new RFID deployment involves identifying and updating the physical inventory of each organization and then migrating the organization's asset records to the RFID system. Next, the staff began tagging all assets and using the handheld device for inventory counting.

Ezz El-Din said that training in RFID technology involves choosing the right label for each asset and the correct location for the label-applied project. In most cases, to reduce the likelihood of the label being damaged or removed, the employee typically attaches the label to a more subtle or invisible location; however, the label still provides approximately 5 meters (16.4 feet) when read. Read range.

Staff can carry an ATID handheld UHF RFID reader to get the tag ID of each tagged asset within 5 meters. Since each tag is linked to the asset's own manual and ID number, the read tag updates the organization's digital record of each asset and its location. Now that a worker can take a handheld device from one room to another and get information about the storage or use of items at each location, the company can complete the inventory in less time than the previous non-RFID statistics.

Handheld devices can also locate lost items or identify specific devices. The staff can enter the desired item in the ATID handheld device and then walk around the room until the reader detects the item's label. The user can operate according to the path closest to the tag according to the sound notification sent by the reader. Ezz El-Din said, “Sometimes, customers only need to do an inventory. With this RFID system, they can do this easily at any time. This process is very flexible.”

The second phase of the RFID deployment project includes fixed readers. The company installed FEIG Electronic's UHF RFID access door at the pilot site of the hospital entrance and exit. The system will automatically obtain a unique ID for each asset that leaves or returns to the organization. Thus, if an item is moved without authorization, the OgTech software will send a notification or alert to management.

Most of the first systems deployed were large hospitals, followed by medical centers and remote clinics with only 100 or 150 assets. Ezz El-Din pointed out that as the scale of deployment expands, "One of the challenges we face is big data. Data migration in a customer's system is also very challenging." Because the technology company built the solution is to Simplify the integration process.

Although the initial project involved only asset management, the Ministry of Health is discussing with OgTech that the next RFID application will involve tracking drugs. Many of the drugs used by these institutions are stored in warehouses before they are shipped out. The Ministry of Health hopes to put an RFID tag on the outer packaging of each drug and use it in combination with the installation of fixed and handheld readers, so that the staff can better understand the location of the drug, the expiration time, the replenishment time and what In the event of a loss. According to the Ministry of Health, since the system was put into use, inventory data has become more reliable, faster, and less labor intensive.