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Improving logistics processes of surgical instruments: case of RFID technology

Afrooz Moatari-Kazerouni (Robert B. Willumstad School of Business, Decision Sciences and Marketing, Adelphi University, Garden City, New York, USA)
Ygal Bendavid (Department of Management and Technology, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Montréal, Canada)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 3 April 2017




Since mid-2000s, hospitals have begun implementing radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology in order to improve their operations. The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential of RFID technology in improving the traceability of surgical instruments in a hospital environment.


A case study is conducted at a teaching hospital in Montreal, Canada. Business process reengineering approach and simulation techniques are used to assess the realistic potential of the RFID technology. The application of different scenarios and how they influence the efficiency of process flow between the central sterilization department and operating rooms of the hospital is investigated.


Research outcomes demonstrated how tagging individual instruments or their sets lead to reduction of the time spent in re-processing the soiled instrument as well as the reduction of costs related to staff. Furthermore, specific key performance indicators are identified and eventual issues related to implementation of the re-designed processes are discussed.


Implementing RFID-enabled solutions in hospital context is still an emerging phenomenon that involves various stakeholders in a change management project. While implementing RFID technology can benefit hospitals by improving business processes and workflows, the adoption is still slow, especially for managing surgical instruments. It is, hence, crucial to compare the advantages and drawbacks of RFID-enabled surgical instruments solutions with other well-established traceability technologies such as barcoding.



The authors are grateful to the members of the hospital who participated in this study, for their time, their openness to share data, and for providing access to the field of research.


Moatari-Kazerouni, A. and Bendavid, Y. (2017), "Improving logistics processes of surgical instruments: case of RFID technology", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 448-466.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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