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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

Once the endoscope is removed from the procedural suite, it is transferred to a separate area, where it is put through various processing steps. An employee uses a scanner at the processing center to track and document the process. This enables the health-care facility to confirm that the endoscope was leak-tested, cleaned and processed (processing consists of a high-level disinfection of the device).

The Unifia software not only provides real-time alerts in the event that an endoscope is not following the proper protocol prior to reuse, but also collects historic data so that a user can be informed if the endoscope may need to be sent out for servicing, based on the number of times it has been used. (Olympus also offers servicing.)

The system provides multiple benefits, Klimas reports, adding, "The value depends on who you talk to." Technicians who work in the lab find that the technology makes their lives easier, she says. With the manual method of tracking endoscope processing, they often must use paper and pen to manually track when each endoscope is processed, which requires that they take off gloves, fill out paperwork and hope that the paperwork does not become wet, which can smudge the data written on the paper. Not only does the system eliminate the need for paper and pen, it also creates a record of who carried out which task, and when, providing documented proof of the services provided.

For hospital or clinic management, the system provides proof that safety procedures were followed, while also enabling them to manage their assets more efficiently. "One of the benefits is the decision-making Unifia provides" to hospital managers, Klimas says. For instance, if managers notice that endoscopes are being delayed in the processing room, or are spending too much time in the cabinet, that problem can be addressed. They can view where bottlenecks occur, as well as identify when insufficient or excessive endoscopes may be on site.

Customers can purchase the solution outright, including the handheld scanners, Klimas explains, or they can pay a monthly fee for the service. In the future, she adds, the software may be provided on a cloud-based server.

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