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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
When hospitals utilize the solution for implants, a sterilized "InnovaCollar" with a built-in RFID tag is temporarily attached to the device inside its packaging. The tag's ID number is linked in the MedEx software to the part's serial number and description. Once the implant is used for a surgical procedure, the medical staff will remove its InnovaCollar and place it on a tray dedicated to collecting discarded items, such as sharps used during the procedure. After the surgery is complete, the tray is moved to the MedEx reader station, where employees enter an ID number or swipe an ID card in order to identify themselves. They can then input patient information and read the discarded tags, thereby creating a record of which items were used on that particular patient.

A tag can also be permanently affixed to each surgical tool via medical-grade adhesive, and the tag's ID number is linked to specific data about that tool in the MedEx software. The tray is then brought to the reader station. As a new tray of tools is created for use during a specific type of surgery, each tag is interrogated as the tool is placed into the tray and linked to that tray's RFID number. Post-surgery, the tools are cleaned and sterilized, and are then placed in a tray once more. The MedEx software stores a record of which tools belong in that tray, and also displays an alert if the wrong tool is placed there, or if a tool is missing, rendering the surgical tray incomplete. Once the tray is loaded with the appropriate tools, it is then closed and locked.

Each tag read is sent to the software via a Bluetooth connection between the reader device and a PC that then forwards that data to the cloud-based server. Users can also plug a UHF RFID reader into their cell phones, Crook says, to read a tag on a tool—for example, to obtain data about that item and where it should be located.

The software can not only track the tray in which a specific tool is stored, or to which patient a particular implant has been administered, but also enable automatic billing to a patient, or the reordering of inventory based on which implants were used.

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