RFID Talk Blog

Wisconsin healthcare provider pilots RFID for vaccine tracking

Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin has deployed a pilot program at one of its clinics to track and trace costly vaccines.

GHC-SCW has deployed Terso Solutions’ TS029 RFID refrigerator and hosted software to better manage vaccine inventory, automate and increase efficiencies for receiving and distributing vaccines, and eliminate issues related to expiration date management and temperature monitoring.

Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin is piloting an RFID-enabled refrigerator to track expensive vaccines.

“The RFID refrigerator and system from Terso could potentially save time for our nursing staff to do other tasks like seeing patients or re-filling prescriptions,” says Steven Lo, MD. “I’m excited to for the potential to improve our vaccine inventory control by having real time data on vaccine use, which may reduce our vaccine supply costs. We may also have the opportunity to improve management of our vaccine inventories across multiple clinics.”

Lo says that medical personnel at GHC-SCW’s five clinics in Wisconsin still track vaccines manually, resulting in inaccurate inventory data and making it difficult to keep track of expiration dates. In addition, RFID-enabled refrigerators send an alert if the products being stored deviate from a set temperature range. That would have helped GHC-SCW to avoid losing approximately $20,000 of vaccines when a storage case malfunctioned during the weekend last year.

“That was a sad day,” says Lo. “It was hundreds of vials, and we just didn’t know how long they had been above the desired temperature since we had no way of tracking it.”

Lo plans to meet with executives from Terso later this month to discuss the pilot and how to potentially expand it to all five clinics. For starters, Lo needs a better system for tagging the vials of vaccines, a task that currently occurs at the clinic site. Additionally, Lo would like to store more inventory in the units to make the return on investment more profound. During the pilot stage, which began in April, the clinic is storing four different types of vaccines.

“I can imagine a day when all of our clinics have a system like this,” says Lo, “once we work out all the kinks and the cost comes down enough to where it’s commercial viable for us. Then anybody in our clinics can pull up a data screen and see that we’re running short on a vaccines and see if our sister clinic can send a couple of vials, or if we need to order more from the manufacturer to avoid a shortage and telling a patient that they’ll have to come back another time.”

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