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Intel & Siemens Launch RFID Blood Bank in Malaysia

Semiconductor giant Intel, engineering conglomerate Siemens, and the Malaysian government have announced the roll-out of an RFID blood bank management system in the country. Three medical institutions are already trialling the system, but the aim is to eventually equip more than 300 others across Malaysia.
Aug 16, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

August 16, 2007—Malaysian publication The Star Online reports on an announcement by semiconductor giant Intel, engineering conglomerate Siemens, and the Malaysian government that the two technology companies will roll out an RFID blood bank management system in the country. Three medical institutions are reportedly already trialling the system, but the aim is to eventually equip more than 300 other government and private hospitals and clinics across Malaysia.

Called BloodBank Manager, the system was developed over six months by Intel Malaysia and Siemens Malaysia. At its core, it combines blood bag-tagging with smart cabinets to enable the automated, efficient track-and-trace visibility for which RFID is known. Eventually the BloodBank Manager could manage Malaysia's entire blood bank, which includes 500,000 transfusions annually. The three institutions trialling the system are the University Malaya Medical Centre, Penang Adventist Hospital, and the National Blood Bank.

The expected benefits are myriad. Blood bag identification, inventorying, and logistics will all be improved. Cross-matching, in which a recipient's blood type is matched to available donated blood, will be streamlined. Internal blood management processes will be made more efficient. Blood stock will be better maintained. Errors, blood-type mismatches, and waiting times will be reduced. Data management and access overall will improve, including easy report generation for inventory, donation history, and donor/patient profiles. Registration and results screening during the blood donation processes will be simplified. Lastly, the system will enable analytics for the entire blood bank management process.

The BloodBank Manager effort was announced at a press conference where Intel, Siemens, and Malaysia's Deputy Health Minister were present. The companies did not disclose its cost. Hospitals and clinics interested in deploying the system will need to get Ministry approval.

While RFID blood bag tagging is still relatively novel, medical asset tracking generally is well established as a popular application of RFID technology. The high value of medical assets means easier economic justification of the deployment costs. Many medical processes are manual and inefficient, so the automation enabled by RFID presents an attractive opportunity to streamline operations. But perhaps the most compelling benefit of RFID in medical environments is the reduction of human error, which can have grave consequences.
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