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Innovapaedics Develops RFID System for Tracking Surgical Implants, Tools

The company hopes to soon launch beta tests of its MedEx solution, which uses Xerafy passive UHF tags to record which items are utilized during medical procedures.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 05, 2013Texas startup Innovapaedics, a provider of medical implants, is partnering with tag manufacturer Xerafy to offer an RFID-based solution for tracking implants and surgical tools via ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) radio frequency identification tags. The solution, which has yet to be released commercially, consists of tags placed on implants and tools, and an RFID reader station to capture the ID numbers of EPC Gen 2 passive tags placed on a surgical tool tray. It also includes a cloud-based server to store data and provide reporting to customers regarding the location, use and status of each instrument utilized during surgery, as well as devices implanted into patients.

Innovapaedics and Xerafy are currently in discussions with several potential end users, and hope to launch a beta test of the technology with a possible customer sometime within the next few months. Innovapaedics expects to release the solution commercially by the fourth quarter of this year.

Innovapaedics' long-term (approximately five-year) goal is to offer a "Smart Implant" solution that would include RFID tags and sensors permanently attached to implants. After an item is implanted into a patient, its RFID sensors would detect pressure and temperature changes, among other events, in order to track a patient's healing process, as well as the device's condition, and transmit that information to a reader. It will take time, however, for the company to completely develop that technology, and to procure the necessary regulatory permits to launch, says David Crook, Innovapaedics' president. The permitting process could be completed within approximately three years in Europe, he estimates, and five years in the United States.

Therefore, as an interim offering, the company has developed MedEx, an RFID solution for tracking implants prior to their use within a patient, to track which items were used on that individual. The resulting data would be incorporated into medical and billing records. In addition, the MedEx system would enable hospitals to track surgical tools. The complete system will include Xerafy Dot-in XS on-metal RFID tags, manufactured with Alien Technology's Higgs-3 chips; and an off-the-shelf RFID reader, built into an Innovapaedics workstation, that would read the tags of tools and implant items placed onto it after surgery, as well as a tag on the tray itself. Hospital personnel could then access Innovapaedics' cloud-based software in order to determine which tools are located in which trays, or for which patient an implant was used.

Crook says his firm teamed with Xerafy to provide a whole solution that includes Xerafy's tags and Innovapaedics' software and reader station. The system, he notes, could be marketed by either company to hospitals or integrators.

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