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RFID Automates Safety, Status Data for Endoscopes

Olympus Medical Systems Group has released its HF RFID-based Unifia solution to track when a health-care company's endoscopes are used, tested, cleaned and processed before they are returned for reuse on another patient.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 30, 2017

Olympus Medical Systems Group, a division of Olympus America, has released a solution known as Unifia that employs radio frequency identification to track the location, history and status of endoscopes used during medical and surgical procedures. The system is designed to help health-care providers manage data regarding the use of endoscopes on patients, as well as the devices' processing and storage. The system serves as a step beyond the medical device company's other RFID solutions that track only the leak-testing and processing of endoscopes prior to their use on patients (see Olympus Automates Its Endoscope Tester Via RFID).

Unifia consists of a software platform designed to manage data about each Olympus endoscope, as well as handheld readers that scan RFID tags or bar codes. The software captures, interprets and stores the RFID read data, thereby creating a history of where each endoscope has been, when it was used and on which patient. It will also note which processing steps were completed or missed. That information provides hospitals with greater infection protection for patients, the company says, as well as an asset-management tool to ensure that endoscopes are available when needed.

Olympus's Unifia system provides reprocessing documentation, workflow and asset management.
Two health-care companies have been trialing the technology since February of this year. Those companies have asked to remain unnamed.

The Olympus Medical Systems Group is the largest provider of gastroenterology and respiratory endoscopes in the United States. The company has more than a decade of experience with RFID; since 2005, each of the firm's Evis Exera II and Evis Exera III endoscopes come with a built-in passive high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz RFID tag compliant with the ISO 15693 standard. Additionally, in 2010, it offered RFID-enabled processing units to disinfect endoscopes after they are cleaned, along with its ALT-Pro leak-testing system.

Since about 2015, says Carolyn Klimas, Olympus's executive director of marketing, the company has been developing a more holistic solution using RFID technology that could resolve two problems for health-care providers: safety and asset management. In the case of safety, the system is designed to automatically collect data in order to track endoscopes so that they are not used until the proper procedures are completed within an allowed amount of time.

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