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BloodCenter of Wisconsin to Study RFID's Effect on Blood
The testing will be part of an ongoing initiative to develop RFID standards for labeling and tracking the blood supply chain, from donor to patient.
The group will propose similar elements for data layout, as defined in ISBT 128, the global standard for the identification, labeling and information-processing of human blood, tissue and organ products across international borders and disparate health-care systems. The group will further suggest that the tag contain a unique Donation Identification Number (DEN), currently used on bar codes as per ISBT 128. The DEN identifies when the blood was collected, and from which blood center. It also notes the product code (which classifies blood products as red cells, platelets, plasma and so forth), blood type, expiration date and other data elements, such as timestamps—for instance, when a blood product was taken out of refrigeration, and for how long.
Blood products are currently tracked through the supply chain using bar codes, and data and bar-code standards developed by the ISBT for blood labeling have been adopted worldwide. Bar coding requires line-of-sight scanning, however, and there is a limit as to how much information can be included on a bar-code label.
"The blood-bag face label and bar codes will remain the absolute standard and authoritative information from which the RFID tag is populated and verified" Briggs says. "But, by augmenting with RFID, you don't need line of sight to read the tags, so there's an opportunity for huge efficiency gains in picking, packing, shipping and container reconciliation. If you are trying to pack blood for shipping, with bar coding you have to pick every container up, scan the label and then pack it into the shipping container."
Not only would the automated scanning of RFID tags reduce the time required to pack a blood shipment, it would also help track the shipment's movement more easily throughout the supply chain, from a supplier (such as BloodCenter of Wisconsin) to a patient's hospital bedside. "Anything you can do to make collection and traceability of data easier, and reduce errors," Briggs explains, "is a huge gain in our industry."
Meanwhile, the BloodCenter of Wisconsin and its partners are in the early stages of assessing how well RFID-tagged blood products work in hospitals. In June, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded SysLogic a $100,000 small-business grant to study RFID's use on blood supplies and their movement through the extended supply chain into the hospital, and to develop a prototype commercial RFID product.
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