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Olympus Automates Its Endoscope Tester Via RFID

Hospitals are now using the ALT-Pro leak detector to identify the model of endoscope being used, and to then adjust the test settings according to that model's specifications, while also storing data indicating which tests were conducted, by whom and with what results.
By Claire Swedberg

Next, the technician follows instructions displayed on the ALT-Pro's LCD screen, including choosing between the waterless automated test and conventional water submersion. Once the worker has selected an automated test, the ALT-Pro system adjusts that endoscope's pressurization, based on its model number captured by the RFID reader. Proper pressurization during leak testing increases the leak-detection accuracy for endoscopes of varying sizes and dimensions. The device can also record the date and time at which the leak testing occurred.

Data related to the test, including its results, can be downloaded in .CSV format to a PC via a USB connection, and can then be used for a variety of purposes. These include not only storing a record of leak tests, but also providing advanced data analysis to determine, for example, the number of times that a specific type of endoscope is tested, or quantifying a particular technician's workload, or the number of times a given endoscope incurs a leak.

"Olympus has been thinking about the safe and effective use of RFID technology in its products for several years," Higgins states. In 2005, the firm launched the Evis Exera II product line, which was Olympus' first product in the United States to include a built-in RFID tag. In 2010, the company launched the OER-Pro, a reprocessor that cleans and disinfects endoscopes, and uses RFID to identify each scope, thereby sparing operators from having to manually input information about the scope's model type. In the case of the OER-Pro, however, the RFID data is used for traceability only, and not to automatically adjust the device's settings.

Customers responded well to the RFID functionality, Higgins reports, which saves time and reduces error risk. "We also took into account recent calls from industry societies for technology that allows for easier and more robust data tracking of the cleaning and disinfection process," he adds. "This made investing in RFID technology for the ALT-Pro only natural."

The ALT-Pro was made commercially available on May 1 of this year. However, Higgins notes, Olympus has been conducting a market evaluation study for the ALT-Pro since December 2013. As a result, many customers are already using the ALT-Pro with RFID functionality.

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