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RFID in healthcare continues rapid ramp-up with new deployments

Retail deployments continue to be the hot topic for RFID technology as retailers embrace the technology to enable omni-channel strategies and rapidly emerging customer-facing applications like self-payment options.

However, there is a strong uptick occurring in RFID in healthcare, where the technology has a wide range of use cases, from asset management to patient check-in, to managing supply chains and tracking surgical tools.

This week RFID 24-7 looks at some of the recent announcements that have occurred over the past several weeks, including market forecasts, breakthroughs for tracking the blood supply chain and an RFID solution to enable safer use of endoscopes.

One of the fastest growing use cases in the healthcare environment is that of RFID-enabled refrigerator and freezer units that simplify inventory management for high-value products like pharmaceuticals and complex enzymes and reagents commonly used in research labs.

The Herzilya Medical Center in Israel has deployed RFID-enabled storage cabinets.

The Herzilya Medical Center in Israel has been using a SmartCabinet solution from LogiTag within its cath lab for nearly two years. The solution provides the hospital with enhanced inventory management capabilities, allowing its staff to have a real-time view of inventory levels while reducing inventory waste, eliminating manual counting and stock-outs, and reducing management costs.

Doron Karmi, chief technology operations officer at HMC, says that hospital staff was consumed by time-consuming and expensive disputes with its inventory suppliers when it came time to produce annual reports.

“Each side couldn’t be sure how much stock was consumed during the past year as our manual system was exposed to paperwork mistakes, shelving problems, expired products and other human errors,” he says. “Once the SmartCabinet entered the cath labs, all of these difficulties were eliminated.”

Herzilya Medical Center is now considering deploying the SmartCabinet solution in other facilities including eye clinics and operating rooms.

A recent study by Transparency Market Research says that the market for RFID-enabled smart cabinets reached $286.7 million in 2011 and it is expected to grow to just under $610 million by 2018. The report states that the strongest opportunities are in North America.

Tracking Surgical Tools With RFID

Several hospitals in Europe have banned together to trial a passive RFID-based solution to track and trace surgical supplies. It marks the first time that passive RFID is being used in a hospital environment to track surgical tools.

Doctors are using passive RFID to track surgical tools as part of a pilot in Europe.

The project is comprised of Rigshospital Copenhagen, Aarhus University Hospital, Aalborg University Hospital, Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, the University Hospital in Lund, Sweden, and GS1 Denmark. Sponsored by the Danish government fund for innovation, the project will RFID-enable sterilization centers at the instrument level to increase patient safety, optimize logistics and storage of surgical instruments and improve workflow at central sterile supply departments (CSSD) and surgical theaters.

In addition, the UHF RFID solution will prevent the loss of surgical instruments, free up time for better treatment and improve patient care. A typical surgical procedure requires dozens or even hundreds of different instruments, from complex scopes to tiny sponges. At the end of a procedure, these items must all be accounted for at a cost of $150 to $400 per minute of clinical time required to locate all of the items used. RFID can often accomplish the task in a matter of seconds.

The pilot is expected to serve as a proof of concept for using RFID to comply with the forthcoming U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules for unique device identification (UDI) in hospitals. The solution being piloted is powered by Xerafy, a global supplier of RFID metal tags, and Caretag, a software and solution provide

RFID Solution Allows Safer use of Endoscopes

The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is improving patient safety and overall asset accountability with a new RFID solution designed to prevent the spread of infection through flexible endoscopes. In addition, the system tracks and timestamps an endoscope’s movements from storage and usage to re-processing and back into storage.

The iRIScope, manufactured by Mobility Assets and powered by RFID from FEIG Electronics, uses RFID to track the inspection process for endoscopes.

The iRIScope is manufactured by Mobile Aspects, and is powered by RFID-enabled technology from FEIG Electronics. Mobile Aspects received a patent for its technology this month. Since Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania installed the solution, hospital personnel have witnessed overall improvements in accountability for correlating scope to patient usage, high level disinfection process, and tracking the efficacy of automatic endoscope re-processor chemicals. Most recently, the hospital began utilizing iRIScope to record when a scope was last re-processed.

“We have been able to streamline 300-plus endoscopes through iRIScope asset management, and the equipment overall is a valued component of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s patient safety initiatives,” says Claude Robert Gibson Jr., instrument processing manager at Penn’s Perelman SurgiCentre and Endoscopy Center.

Flexible endoscope re-processing has been cited the last four years in the Top 10 Health Technology Hazards list published by the ECRI Institute. iRIScope prevents and identifies cross-contamination to reduce the risk for proliferation and transmission of infectious diseases. If a protocol compliance breach occurs, an unused scope needs to be re-processed, or a scope has been missing for 24 hours, alerts go off. With the Red Alert feature, the cabinet that houses the breached scope turns red, locks, and sends an alert to designated personnel.

“Flexible endoscope re-processing has become a prominent patient safety concern,” says Suneil Mandava, president and CEO of Mobile Aspects. “Therefore, we developed iRIScope to prevent the spread of infections, standardize protocols, and provide reliable electronic documentation.”

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