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New RFID system reduces patient waiting time at Cancer Centre

T.C. Seow | Dec. 12, 2013
The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCSS) has introduced a new RFID system to improve productivity. The system, named Real-time Ambulatory Patient Information Deployment Enabler or Rapide, is aimed at increasing the number of chemotherapy treatments per day, thereby reducing patients' waiting times.

NCSS Rapide RFID tags
Photo: Patient given a Rapide RFID tag before treatment.

The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCSS) has introduced a new RFID system to improve productivity. The system, named Real-time Ambulatory Patient Information Deployment Enabler or Rapide, is aimed at increasing the number of chemotherapy treatments per day, thereby reducing patients' waiting times.

The system has been deployed by IHiS, the IT arm of the Ministry of Health, and the NCSS at the centre's chemotherapy unit. With Rapide, patients and nurses at the treatment unit are given RFID tags to wear. RFID readers on the walls and ceilings detect signals from the tags, and together with sensor mats on the recliners or beds, transmit data to the system to pinpoint the patients' and nurses' locations.

Last year, NCCS's chemotherapy unit treated over 28,000 patients. In November 2013, the Rapide system won two bronze awards at the Hong Kong RFID awards for "Best RFID Implementation" and "Most Innovative Use of RFID."

Full tracking
The Rapide system processes the data to give nurses and front counter staff real time views, on their computer screens, of the occupancies of all chemotherapy recliners and beds. Once treatment is over, the patient drops the tag into a box, which then signals the system that the bed or recliner is ready for the next patient. Staff can then swiftly allocate the resource to another patient.

Rapide system also allows the centre's pharmacy staff to electronically update the status of a patient's drugs, so staff can see on their screens if a patient's drugs are ready for him to begin his chemotherapy treatment.

NCCS Deputy Director of Nursing, Chan Mei Mei, said: "The innovative RFID solution has helped us significantly reduce patient waiting time. Today, we can treat 20 percent more patients and about 80 percent of our patients wait no more than an hour for their treatment at the centre."

"Our nurses no longer need to manually search for empty recliners, or make calls to check if drugs are ready. Instead, they save about 69 hours a month or 825 hours a year, which they now use to treat more patients," said Chan.

"Higher automation in the appointment system also saves our reception staff the 744 hours a year they used to spend faxing clinic staff on patient appointments," she added.

IHiS Chief Executive Officer, Dr Chong Yoke Sin, said: "We have interfaced the Rapide program with NCCS' patient administration and queue management systems to provide swift and seamless appointment scheduling and registration. The program also gives nurses timely updates on patients' medication and treatment status.

 

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