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Aegis Sciences Corp. Manages Bio Samples More Efficiently With RFID

The forensic toxicology and health-care sciences testing lab is using a UHF RFID system to track the storage and processing of blood and tissue samples.
By Claire Swedberg

By knowing on which instrument a particular sample is being tested—or has already been tested—the system would thus know which process had been completed. That data would also enable the lab to determine how instrumentation is performing, based on the number of samples being processed there, as well as how often such processing occurs.

Case teamed up with Vikram Ghorpade, Aegis' laboratory informatics specialist, and Nijyar Muhammet, the company's laboratory operations automation developer, to come up with a solution. Vikram was responsible for the RFID hardware and software configuration and installation, along with the creation of databases to store the collected RFID data. Nijyar, meanwhile, handled the metrics-based algorithms, interfaces and websites to display the data.

The solution consists of software developed in-house, coupled with MSM Solutions' PortalTrack software and Zebra Technologies RFID printers to link the ID number encoded to each RFID label as that label is being printed and applied to a particular sample. Impinj Speedway Revolution R220 and R420 readers with Times 7 antennas are installed at specific locations around the laboratory. The same makes and models of readers and antennas are also installed in the cooler in which samples are stored, while R220 readers with Impinj Matchbook near-field reader antennas (for closer range) are installed on about 125 instruments.

For each new sample arriving at an Aegis lab, a label with a built-in Smartrac EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID inlay is encoded with a unique ID number via a Zebra RFID printer, and is then attached to that sample. At the same time, that ID is transmitted via the PortalTrack software on the lab's database. When the sample is placed within the cooler, the reader captures its ID and updates the software to indicate that the sample is in cold storage. Once the sample is removed from the cooler, the reader will no longer be able to read the RFID label's ID, and will send an update to the software accordingly. Each time the sample moves from one instrument to another, or from one section of the lab to another, the RFID readers capture those events and again update the software on the lab's database.

A scientist operating the instruments can view the history of each sample being worked on, and also know where it should go next, based on the sample's history and processing requirements.

If a client calls requesting a sample's status, a lab representative can simply search for that patient's ID in the software to ascertain where the sample has been and, therefore, when it will be completely processed.

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