Please add a featured image to this post!

RFID…a clinical trial!

We visit two, twenty-four hour, seven-day-a-week library service providers and see how new RFID installations have helped their demanding situation.

Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust Library Service provides library and information services for the clinical decision-making, education, and research needs of all involved in patient care. The two sites within the Trust, the Sanderson Library, Ormskirk and the Hanley Library Southport are also part of the Cheshire and Merseyside Healthcare Libraries Access Agreement, so provide services to the wider community of NHS staff across the region.  A wide remit and, as Michael Mason, the Library Services Manager explained, one that needs to be available twenty four hours a day to accommodate staff who are on full shift patterns. This posed a problem when changes to maintenance agreements were imposed leaving the library with reduced staffing levels.

One potential route to resolve the dilemma was to look at providing a self-service option. Initial investigations found suitable equipment, using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), available in different styles and capabilities from a number of suppliers.  To finance this option the Trust had a small sum to assist with the transition, which, along with a successful grant bid, enabled a trial at the Ormskirk Library. Michael explains, “We looked at a number of suppliers and, for us, the best looking, easiest to use product was the 2CQR “Baby”. They also understood our practical and budgetary requirements”.

The move from the barcode, EM (Electro Magnetic) system to RFID security and self-service was a simple process and the new product was an immediate success. “It worked first time and is easy to use. We had back–up plans in case of problems when there was no library staff around but hardly needed to use them, we are very pleased” Asked about users response Michael is very positive,  “With one card we have identification, car park and library service access, and the self-service use is self-explanatory. We’ve had very few problems and no complaints”. One interesting observation he makes was in the way the “Baby” glows, making it a focus for the late, or early morning shift users. “ When there are no staff around and it’s a dark, dismal night the “Baby” provides a welcoming beacon to home in on.” Interestingly, we noted the screen shot in current use on the “Baby” was, appropriately, of the maternity ward.

The success at Ormskirk spurred the Trust on to find the funding to install a similar set-up in the Hanley Library at Southport, a busy and growing library that supports, as does Ormskirk, all clinical staff, non-clinical staff and students.

The Library at Southport has had exactly the same experience as Ormskirk. Glenda Morris, the Deputy Librarian we met there, echoes Michael’s views, “ It’s nice and straightforward, does what it says and users take to it quickly….and we’ve had no complaints either”.

The Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust Libraries are a great example of libraries meeting challenges in difficult circumstances and grabbing opportunity to deliver more and better services. Last year they added a number of mobile tablet PCs to the range of laptops and e-readers available for loan. The plan is now to extend this service to whole of the hospital-at-night team and community based staff in the integrated care organisation.

There are also a number of RFID initiatives 2CQR are helping to develop with the library, which the soon-to-retire Michael Mason is keen to implement. “ Not only have we seen the benefits 2CQR are able to bring at to our service but visiting staff from other north west health library services have been similarly impressed”

Although under difficult financial constraints and in a demanding profession the staff and users we met were cheerful and pleased to be in an environment where technology was helping them to deliver, and receive, services in the fastest, most convenient way.