RFID Technology: Improving Dental Education and Patient Safety
In partnership with:
Presenter: Mr Stephen van Heerden LM dental
Use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has exploded as various industries garner the efficiencies gained from passively, and precisely, tracking objects. From shipping containers to library books, radio frequency antennas confirm the presence of an object via a signal from an RFID tag. At Columbia University College of Dental Medicine we have adopted RFID to improve instrument and material management, and patient flow. In both preclinical and clinical programs instruments and cassettes are fitted with RFID tags for tracking. RFID scanners allow instruments to be tracked at each step of sterilization and distribution.
Defined processes ensure that only kits that have passed through the sterilization process can be dispensed for clinical use. Additionally each instrument has its own unique RFID code that enables the system to check kit contents for completeness at each process point. This ensures that only complete kits are dispensed, maximizing student efficiency. All of this occurs passively, with no need for the staff to scan bar codes or complete visual checks. Besides operational improvements, Columbia envisions the future to include readers at the operatory to allow tracking of individual instrument and material movements that will provide significant ergonomic educational benefit.
RFID antennae on the dental unit will track the instances and duration that the student has an instrument in their hand. As the procedure progresses a complete picture of instrument usage develops. RFID wristbands will be used to track patient movement and to allow for positive patient identification at the dental unit. With patient, provider and armamentarium data all linked together we envision the development of an event tracking model with a number of key uses. Data from individual events could be compared to a benchmark to assess student performance or can be analyzed in conjunction with patient outcomes to inform best practice.
Over time, this collection of data could inform educators of gaps in preclinical training, or lead to individualized learning programs for those that require remediation. The research opportunities are enormous across a number of areas including patient care, education and operations management.