Hospital Supply Management Case Study: University of Tennessee Medical Center

March 24, 2016 Impinj

University of Tennessee Medical Center tracks and manages OR supplies and improves patient charge capture with RAIN RFID


The University of Tennessee Medical Center (UT Medical Center), a 609-bed Level 1 Trauma Center, has deployed a RAIN RFID-based system from DeRoyal Industries in its Operating Rooms to automatically track supply usage in operating suites. With an intelligent trashcan integrated with the Impinj platform, the medical center is able to capture consumption data that informs usage and charge information, integrates with hospital information systems, and ultimately helps create efficiencies in supply use and patient care.

The Impinj-DeRoyal RAIN RFID solution delivers:

  • Reduced staff time pulling and restocking supplies
  • Increased charge capture accuracy
  • Improved tracking and management of physician preference cards
  • Reduced likelihood of infections
  • Data driven supply management


UT Medical Center and DeRoyal began working together in 2014 initially to develop a new preference card system for use in their operating rooms. What they found was a need to not just optimize physician preference cards, but also a need to analyze supply usage, stocking levels, returns, locations and quantities. They needed a solution that would help make acuity-based decisions and accurately document usage.

Improving patient safety during procedures was also a priority. The medical center’s workflow studies found surgical staff leaving the OR for an average of 10.75 minutes per case to fetch supplies needed for OR procedures because they were not readily available in the OR. Such repeated door openings can increase the risk of surgical site infection and contribute to surgical mistakes. UT Medical Center wanted to limit the number of supply-related door openings by having needed supplies readily available, and thereby reduce the risk of surgical site infections. 

DeRoyal, a medical device manufacturer committed to improving both the clinical quality and economic health of its customers, worked with UT Medical Center to create a solution that would meet the organization’s needs. The solution, an intelligent trashcan called the DeRoyal Continuum® Safe, leverages the Impinj platform to automatically capture data about supplies consumed during surgical procedures.

How It Works
At UT Medical Center, OR supply packaging is tagged with RAIN RFID tags. When those supplies are used and discarded by clinicians, they are thrown into the Continuum Safe and information about the supplies consumed is automatically captured using a near field antenna and an Impinj Speedway reader. The reader gathers information about the supply items and transmits it to DeRoyal’s Continuum Safe application, which associates it to the specific procedure being performed in the OR. The solution also uses a standard HL7 interface to integrate into inventory, billing and surgical information systems, passing data about the supplies used so they can be properly tracked. In addition, analytics can be applied at the patient, procedure, and supply level to help create more efficiencies across the health system, including assisting with the original goal of optimizing physician preference cards at UT Medical Center.
DeRoyal’s Continuum Safe solution and RAIN RFID technology from Impinj are delivering multiple benefits to UT Medical Center. Supply levels can be better managed based on usage data, with improved usage accuracy, decreased late pulls and fewer returns with each procedure. Risk of patient infection is reduced because clinicians remain in the OR and are no longer leaving to procure supplies. Forecasting and inventory knowledge has become more accurate, allowing waste and expired supply levels to decrease. By accurately knowing the specific supplies used with each procedure, patient charge capture improved by 30%, which means increased reimbursement levels.
Additional benefits from the Impinj-DeRoyal system included:
  • Reduced funds tied up in excess inventory
  • Reduced time spent on manual inventory processes
  • Less time and money spent rush-ordering supplies
  • Fewer touches in the supply chain
  • Reduced dollars spent on lost product
  • Less time spent managing preference cards
  • Accuracy and awareness of cost per procedure

UT Medical Center was awarded a “Most Innovative Use Case” award by the Intelligent Health Association at HIMSS in 2015 as a result of their work on this project.  After beginning the Continuum Safe deployment with five ORs, UTMC is expanding to all 36 OR suites and developing other use cases managing additional supply locations leveraging DeRoyal solutions and the Impinj platform.

The University of Tennessee Medical Center
Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, The University of Tennessee Medical Center, has a rich history in the East Tennessee community of providing patient-centered care and remaining at the forefront of research, technology and treatments. UT Medical Center attributes its well-respected standing within the community to the exceptional people who dedicate themselves to patient care excellence. The hospital serves as a referral center for Eastern Tennessee, Southeastern Kentucky and Western North Carolina. It is the region’s only  academic medical centerMagnet® recognized hospital and Level I Trauma Center.

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