Improving Employee Burnout & Retention in Healthcare with RFID

Feig Electronics

Employee Support Blog

Are you a leader looking for innovative ways to attract and retain staff?

Have you considered the implementation of RFID?

Jason Warschauer, director of Technical Solutions for FEIG Electronics Inc., joins us on The Identify Podcast to discuss the ways in which RFID technology and solutions can reduce burnout and increase productivity in the healthcare industry.

The healthcare industry is infamous for high turnover rates.

Retaining healthcare and medical staff is more critical than ever. The lifeblood of a healthy healthcare organization is a happy and well-engaged staff, from foodservice and facility maintenance employees to physicians and nurses.

Factors such as management issues, low morale, the amount of time spent on unnecessary tasks, workload, and exhaustion contribute to these rates.

Many employees may genuinely love their jobs, but obstacles and unnecessary challenges associated with their duties lead to burnout.

Improve employee retention by reducing burnout with RFID

As host Justin Starbird points out, nurses are some of the superstars of the healthcare industry, and often they are the ones identifying the quirky environmental issues that come up. They are required to be the endpoint that scans something that will either go into a patient’s room, go into a patient, or be removed from a patient. Thirty percent of their time is spent just looking for things.

RFID can aid in reducing this burden.

“If a nurse opens a supply cabinet for something as simple as a blanket or some type of dressing and it’s not there, now they’re on a side quest,” Jason explains.

“Now they’re taking their time to do something not really at the center of their job description or that they’re being paid for, but it has to be done. 

Nurses want to spend their time with their patients. They are measured on the level of care and how much care they provide. So if they’re spending 30% of their time chasing down supplies, that’s not time well spent.

One of the things that we look at at FEIG is how we can guarantee that those supplies are where they need to be when they need to be there.

There are several ways to do that with RFID. One being automatic reordering. Numbers scan in, and numbers scan out. When a specific type of supply gets low, RFID technology can automatically push that reorder button, guaranteeing the needed supplies.

Another is live, up-to-date inventory. A nurse may be looking for a specific supply, and they know that a cabinet over here holds that supply, but they’re out. With RFID, this nurse can leverage the data to determine that another cabinet holds six of what they are looking for on the shelf. The data populates in real-time, saving time and effort and allowing nurses to return to the parts of their job that they enjoy the most and the parts of their job that they are measured on.”

To better support employees, healthcare organizations can look to reduce and remove the frustrating obstacles staff face every day.

Intelligent RFID solutions for healthcare applications can automate workflows, alleviating the burden of repetitive administrative tasks for physicians, nurses, technologists, and staff. This allows them to spend less time in front of computer screens and more time where it matters.

Implementing RFID in healthcare facilities

In order to reap the full benefits of RFID in your organization, choosing the right provider is of utmost importance. The right partner will not only sell; they will consult with you to determine the best use cases, ease your implementation and integration, set you up with the data that benefits you most in an easy-to-understand way, and provide continued support for maintenance, troubleshooting, and evolution.

“When FEIG meets a new client,” Jason explains, “we enter the situation as a consultant. We look to determine what the pain points are and where their biggest pains lie. What is the problem that we are ultimately trying to solve? We are not thinking about technology; we are thinking, ‘What is their biggest problem?’ Then we can analyze the issue to determine which type of technology and solutions are the best fit.

It’s not just RFID. The technologies are layered on top of each other. There might be other technologies that come into play. For example, the RFID tag identifies the asset, then data is combined with the data on the device that the nurse is carrying, and now we have a system built around that asset.

The other thing that we can do is help our customers evolve.

Oftentimes, RFID technology is brought in to solve one problem at a time, for example, employee access and tracking. Now we recognize another pain point that may be associated with medication, for instance, expiring medications. RFID technology can track first in, first out. After that, we could tackle shelf tracking for our supply cabinets to manage supplies more efficiently.

As we begin to see little individual pockets of technology that are distinctly removed from each other, the real advantage of bringing in a partner like FEIG and some of our partners who handle networking, middleware, and tags turns to building an entire ecosystem.

Now a customer can say, ‘We know who because they’re wearing a badge, and we know where because they’re carrying this PDA, and we know what because this item is tagged, and we know the patient, and we know the expiration dates of these medications over here.’ So we can obtain a more straightforward, complete story from all the information and data compiled intelligently. The technologies become so much more powerful when they work together, not just isolated in distinct pockets.”

Alongside their guidance, FEIG Electronics prides itself on their unparalleled customer support.

“FEIG has always provided a very high level of support and technical support,” Jason boasts. “Today, we have source tagging. The manufacturer is tagging items and pre-encoding numbers on site. Well, guess what? They’re using our equipment, so we know what’s inside that tag. We know how those numbers got encoded in there. We know what they mean and what you must do to get those numbers out.

While we only provide one part of the solution as a hardware manufacturer, we also see each supply chain step. Having that understanding, the really deep bits and bytes, ones and zeros, understanding the data flow and how the information gets to where it’s going, as well as also understanding the environmental issues that may come into account. 

A lot of this technology is now off-the-shelf. You can order a part by number, mount it in your space, and expect it to work until there’s some quirky thing in the environment that will cause the data to come back in a way that you don’t expect! That’s when I get a phone call, and we get involved, sit down together, figure it out, and work through it.”

High ROI with RFID

RFID in healthcare continues to prove itself through strong ROI.

“One great thing about RFID is the ROI, or return on investment,” Jason points out. “What we more often than not find is that the system pays for itself multifold, way earlier than anticipated. A customer might look to solve one or two issues, and then boom, statistically, the error goes way down, and the productivity has skyrocketed. This boosts us onto the project’s next phase to expand here and there, and so it just kind of propels itself forward.”

But let’s also consider the ROI of happy employees.

Employee retention is certainly one of the most critical ingredients for success for healthcare organizations. Improving employee retention allows organizations to avoid the high cost associated with replacing employees, improves patient care, and enhances the overall quality of service to the communities served.

“I love working with our customers and going out there and watching the technology solve issues,” Jason says.

“One of the things that fascinates me is the history of RIFID adoption because, in the early days, the technology was very intimidating; it seemed very Big Brother, and ‘I don’t need technology to show me how to do my job,'” Jason explains. “Now, what we’re seeing is that not only is the technology helping smooth things out and create efficiencies in the workplace, but we’re getting feedback from the staff and the professionals in various industries saying that not only has it helped them, but, ‘How did I do my job before we had this fantastic technology?’ That is exciting to me to hear those stories.”

To hear more about the benefits of implementing RFID in healthcare, including employee support and retention, listen to “Support Your Medical Professionals Better” live on The Inspectations Podcast now!