Nurez Khimji is the Chief Financial Officer of eXI Wireless. Their RFID based HALO system prevents infant abductions in healthcare facilities.
How dire is the problem of abductions within health care facilities?
A single abduction from a healthcare facility has a tremendous negative impact on the family, the staff and the hospital itself. The monetary costs of a single incident alone are estimated to be seven figures. Therefore, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organizations, JCAHO, makes the use of a protection system mandatory. Hospitals failing these security requirements can lose their accreditation which impacts several funding resources.
Abductions are not the only problem related to infant care. The Journal of Healthcare Protection Management estimates the number of accidental baby switching incidents is as high as 20,000 per year in the U.S. Therefore, not only are infants in need of protection, they also require proper identification to prevent a staff member from giving a baby to the wrong mother.
Can you describe how an intruder might elude today’s security measures?
The typical profile of an abductor is female with no prior criminal record. The abductor often appears to be “normal” yet they are emotionally immature, insecure, and compulsive. By asking detailed questions, the abductor will scope out hospitals’ security measures and nurseries in advance. When the time comes for the actual abduction, they will most likely snatch the most available infant. In most cases, the abductor will pose as a healthcare professional or simply be a stranger that goes unnoticed within the busy birthing area.
What types of equipment are facilities most likely to tag?
At first glance, you would think a hospital would only tag their most expensive equipment in order to protect, track, and locate these important assets. However, this is not the case. In fact, the equipment that is tagged is much broader. An example of items tagged include television remote controls worth about $10 each, simple stethoscopes valued at about $200 each, mobile computer workstations costing about $6,000, and mobile diagnostic equipment worth $20,000 or more.
The general criteria for tagging assets is based on how often the item needs to be replaced. The replacement process is not only costly, but also time-consuming for staff. Average requisition costs are $200 to $300 per request; therefore, a handful of $10 dollar TV remote control devices cost much more than $10. In addition, each time a piece of equipment needs to be located, staff waste valuable time that could be spent on patient care. It is estimated that hospital staff can actually spend up to 30% of their time looking for the equipment they need.
What is the future of asset tracking in healthcare facilities?
When people look at RFID, they naturally focus on asset tracking such as equipment, drugs, etc. However, assets are only half the story. Hospitals, like other organizations, need to receive the maximum payback from their technology investments. Therefore, the future will involve protecting, tracking, and locating assets, patients, infants, and staff through a single, unified hospital-wide solution. The RFID solution will need to be compatible with existing systems using barcodes, as well as other emerging wireless technologies.
This solution then needs to be integrated into the facility’s existing financial, administrative, and workflow information systems. The result is the technology will be an essential tool that will provide the hospital with critical information that has not been available to-date (i.e. the system will document the interaction between staff, patients, and the equipment that they use). This information will ensure better patient care and more efficiencies.
Could you give our readers a success story or real world anecdote on the effectiveness of infant tracking?
We also have a notable story featuring eXI’s HALO system.