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RFID Improves Tracking of Tissue and Medical Devices

Since Champion Medical Technologies added an RFID feature to its UDITracker solution, hospitals using the solution have reported that the technology has helped reduce the loss of high-value products.
By Claire Swedberg

The system also knows who has conducted that activity. That's because the cabinet or freezer is locked until the user presents a low-frequency (LF) RFID badge with his or her identification information linked to the ID number encoded to the RFID tag in that person's badge. The ID is also forwarded to the software, which authorizes that user to open the cabinet, and stores that individual's name.

If an item is used during surgery, the bar-coded number on its packaging is scanned, which links that product with that particular patient's procedure. If such a scan does not take place and the device or tissue remains out of its RFID-enabled container for an excessive amount of time, an alert can be displayed for those using the software. A text message can also be sent to authorized recipients.

The RFID-enabled cabinets are used for storing medical devices.
The software is offered as a hosted, cloud-based service. Users can purchase or lease the cabinets, refrigerators or freezers, paying an annual subscription fee for access to the data.

End users did not respond to requests for comment. Casady, however, says customers have reported to his company that the system has saved them a significant amount of time and effort. Because compliance reporting requires daily updates regarding which items are stored at what temperatures, he notes, the manual labor required to accomplish record keeping is considerable. With the use of UDITracker, that record-taking process is eliminated and compliance reports are more thorough as well, since readings are taken with each opening of the container door.

Champion Medical Technologies' Peter Casady
Before Casady's company began offering the RFID system, customers had told him about the challenge of loss, when products left cabinets, refrigerators or freezers and couldn't be located, or when they remained at room temperature for too long and thus had to be discarded. "Hospitals are writing off billions of dollars every year due to waste or loss," he states, due to a lack of visibility into what was removed from storage and when. "We were aware of that need," he says, and customers have told him that the system is, in fact, reducing the incidence of loss since it knows when products were removed, and by whom.

The RFID-enabled cabinets and coolers vary in size and functionality, according to Joe Pleshek, Terso's CEO. "Our product line generally offers a small and large version for each temperature (requirement)," he says, such as freezer, refrigerator or room-temperature cabinets. Cabinets range from 7.9 cubic feet to 25 cubic feet, refrigerators are between 5.5 cubic feet and 20 cubic feet, and freezers are sized from 5.5 cubic feet to 20 cubic feet.

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