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New System Tracks Specimens From Hospitals to Labs

Ambient ID has released a UHF Gen 2 solution that provides near-real-time visibility into the locations of vials containing human tissue or blood as they travel from hospitals to laboratories for diagnostic testing.
By Claire Swedberg
The problem for health-care providers is that the information system used to track each vial is limited. Once a vial is loaded and shipped, the health-care provider has no visibility into where that vial is located. And when lab employees receive vials, they know where the items came from, but have little other data, such as when they shipped and how long they have been in transit. If a hospital, physician or patient is waiting for results from a laboratory, there are times when they don't know whether a particular sample was received by a laboratory, or which lab currently has that vial.

Allison declines to indicate the number of vials lost or misplaced, but once a search is launched, he says, the average cost in labor hours spent looking for that vial runs between $52 and $64. Ambient ID's LabTrack system would eliminate the need for those searches, he adds, and thus deliver an immediate return on investment (ROI) for users.

LabTrack UHF Gen 2 RFID tags are manufactured by an unnamed third party for Ambient, to fit the tissue sample vials. The tags can be read from a distance of 10 to 30 feet by interrogators that Ambient ID installs in doorways, as well as in ceilings and under countertops around a laboratory or storage area. Ambient ID uses interrogators from ThingMagic, Allison notes, three to nine of which are typically required in a laboratory, depending on its size.

Ambient tests each tag before sending it to the hospital, where the tag can be applied to a disposable vial as a patient's data is input into the system. The tag is then read to link its unique ID number to the necessary details regarding that sample, the patient and the tests to be administered.

LabTrack software, which can either reside on a user's back-end database or be accessed on a server hosted by Ambient ID, is designed to provide alerts if an unexpected or unauthorized action occurs, such as a vial being shipped to the wrong lab. It can also alert a user when a tissue sample has remained for too long in any given location (since human tissue samples deteriorate over time). "The alerts indicate when something isn't where it's supposed to be," Grenley explains, "and how long it has rested at any point of its journey."

The LabTrack system is billed on a monthly or quarterly basis. For that reason, Allison says, users get a quick ROI based on the reduced time spent searching for samples in hospitals and labs.

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