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Terso Makes a Case for Mobile Tracking of Medical Devices

The company's RFID-enabled hard case, known as a trunk stock kit, uses a cellular connection to transmit the status of the implantable items and surgical tools stored inside it.
By Claire Swedberg

The Jetstream software would already have a record of which tags should be in the case, and can thus determine which items have been removed, as well as where the case is located, based on the cellular mobile location services. In that way, if an item is removed at a particular medical facility and is not returned, the manufacturer knows where that product was used for a medical procedure. That information can then be used to begin the billing process, as well as any inventory re-ordering.

The cases are also designed to receive a daily signal from the cloud-based software and to then respond to that signal, indicating that it is still online. "At midnight, every case can receive a heartbeat signal," Kuehl says, and the software will then record each case's response.

Pleshek envisions the cases being used for more than medical device management once they are commercially released. "If you think about all the high-value items that are stored in cases," he states, "this is really transformational." For instance, jewelry, automotive parts and other items, packed and transported in a case, could be tracked wherever they are, as long as there is a cellular connection.

For medical device manufacturers, the system is expected to reduce the cost of replacing lost items, as well as the amount of inventory that companies need to have on hand in the event that a case or a product in that case goes missing. In addition, Pleshek notes, field reps for medical device manufacturers are usually highly trained, highly paid individuals who assist in the process of patient care, and counting items in cases, as well as making phone calls to the office about what has or hasn't been used, is a waste of their time. Terso's RFID-enabled solution automates these tasks, he says, adding, "There's a huge labor savings."

The technology offers another return on investment based on the expiration or recall of products, Kuehl says. If a manufacturer recalls a product, Terso's solution can tell it where each item is located in the field, and can identify anything that has been used at a specific hospital. For expiration dates, the system can pinpoint the locations of items that are due to expire soon and, therefore, need to be used, discarded or returned to the distribution center.

Most standard hard cases weigh 14 to 18 pounds with goods packed inside, Pleshek reports. The Terso RFID Mobile Case filled with medical devices will weigh 20 to 22 pounds, he says.

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