The UK’s largest integrated Health and Social Care trust is introducing an electronic tracking system to make it easier to keep tabs on health records.

Northern Ireland’s Belfast Health and Social Care Trust will implement Idox Health’s iFIT logistics management solution at the Royal Victoria Hospital to help staff cope with the growing number of records stored at the site, as well as better safeguard patient information.

iFIT uses a system of Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tags that can be attached to patient records. Each tag carries a unique serial number that allows hospital staff to track its location from a mobile device from more than 13 feet away.

RFID sensors installed at ‘key’ locations inside the hospitals will automatically read the tags as they pass, meaning their location can be monitored as they move around the hospital.

According to Idox, the system will also allow BHSCT to eke out an additional 20% of shelf space in the Royal Victoria Hospital’s records library, which currently holds clinical notes on some 180,000 patients. iFIT will be introduced to additional BHSCT sites at a later date.

Shelves in the trust’s medical records libraries will be assigned a Global Location Number based on the Department of Health’s GH1 standards, allowing each file to be to be precisely located. Because the technology does away with the need for sequencing, Royal Victoria Hospital will be able to realise its maximum capacity of 250,000 records immediately, Idox claimed.

A spokesperson from BHSCT said: “With the multiple challenges our trust now faces, maintaining service during a period of increased demand whilst at the same time saving money is a delicate balance. The introduction of iFIT helps meet both these challenges and it frees up capacity for other uses and acts as a platform for further projects.”

While iFit will initially just be used to track patient records, Idox said that the system would eventually allow BHSCT to track other important hospital assets such as equipment, medication and potentially even patients themselves, as well as serving as a jumping-off point for the trust’s electronic patient record ambitions.

Implementations of RFID tagging in hospitals in the UK have thrown up positive results. As Digital Health News reported in June, Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Scotland was able to achieve cost avoidance savings of £360,000 through placing RFID on pieces of equipment including hospital beds, syringe drivers and patient monitors.

As well as enabling staff to more easily locate medical devices, it provided insight into which devices were and were not required, allowing them to sell of surplus equipment and avoid making unnecessary purchases.

Meanwhile, trials of the the Department of Health’s Scan4Safety project – a barcode system for tracking patients, hospital staff and equipment –  is reported to have delivered an uptick in patient safety and improved accountability at the six NHS trusts where it is currently being piloted.

Karen Gorman, head of sales at Idox Health, said iFIT will have a huge impact on the way Health Records operate at the trust, while also providing the basis for GS1 compliance.

“Having signed a second Trust in Northern Ireland, Idox Health are now becoming a major supplier to the region”, she said.