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Healthcare: a hotbed for RFID

Could RFID be any hotter in healthcare? New and innovative uses for RFID in healthcare emerge daily, from RFID-enabled iPads, to asset tracking and hand hygiene solutions.

When MIT Technology Review runs a feature story on using RFID wristbands to measure hand washing at hospitals, you know the technology is going mainstream. I’m a strong believer that while item level tagging in the retail environment has a strong head start and an outstanding business case, the real sweet spot for RFID is healthcare, where the technology can save lives and help bring skyrocketing healthcare costs under control.

RFID in healthcare

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle has deployed RTLS technology to track critical tissue samples used in research projects.

The latest example comes from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, which has deployed Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) using active RFID to ensure that tissue, blood and bone specimens are stored at required temperatures in order to meet the Center’s rigorous experimental control requirements.

Scott Rusch, vice president of facilities and operations at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center admits that without RFID technology, the Center could lose potentially life-saving research findings in an instant.

Last summer, a freezer malfunction at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital severely damaged one-third of the world’s largest collection of autism brain samples when a storage unit failed to operate for three days. (Read the RFID 24-7 report.)

The Hutchinson Center uses Ekahau Wi-Fi-based temperature sensors and its Vision software to monitor and report the temperatures of several hundred refrigeration units housing specimens used in a variety of research experiments. The Ekahau solution ensures that near-breach temperatures trigger text and email alerts in real-time, before spoilage impacts specimens that are worth millions of dollars and span decades of testing.

In addition, the Ekahau Vision software automatically logs all temperature readings that are communicated wirelessly over the Center’s existing Wi-Fi network, without the use of manual logs, which are prone to human error. The Ekahau real-time temperature monitoring solution helps the Hutchinson Center protect the continuity of its long-standing, world-renowned research programs.

“The Center’s samples and the information stored in them, cannot be replaced if lost to unexpected temperature fluctuations,” says Mark Norris, president and CEO of Ekahau. “We’re proud to help Fred Hutch monitor and manage their environmentally sensitive and priceless cancer research samples.”

 

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