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New York Hospital Queens Tests RFID Inventory System

The acute-care facility has installed LogiTag's Smart Cabinets and StockBox to automate the management of medical devices and consumables.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 24, 2012Acute-care facility New York Hospital Queens, located in the Flushing section of New York City, is piloting radio frequency identification technology to help it manage its inventory of medical devices and consumables, including stents, catheters and filters used within its interventional radiology unit. The RFID solution, provided by LogiTag Systems, allows staff members to remove implants or other necessary items from a locked cabinet, and automatically creates a digital record of which items have been removed, and by whom. In addition, the system enables the hospital to maintain a record of which items were actually used during a particular procedure, via bar-code scans. In the future, says Jed Golden, New York Hospital Queens' director of materials management, this information may be linked to existing management software, for the purpose of billing those products to that patient.

LogiTag was founded in 2004 in Netanya, Israel, to offer RFID solutions for a variety of markets, including an active RFID real-time location system (RTLS) for hospitals. Its technology is installed at every medical center in Israel, according to Glenn Tamir, LogiTag Systems' VP of business development.

When the quantity of a certain product reaches a designated restocking point, a New York Hospital Queens staff member inserts the appropriate RFID StockTag into the StockBox, automatically triggering a replenishment order.

New York Hospital Queens has deployed LogiTag's Smart Cabinet and StockBox solutions, both incorporating RFID technology compliant with the ISO 15693 standard for 13.56 MHz passive RFID tags. The Smart Cabinet, intended for tracking such high-value and time-sensitive items as implants used during surgical procedures, has a built-in RFID reader designed and manufactured by LogiTag—Tamir declines to specify the number of readers or antennas installed within each cabinet—to capture when products enter and leave its shelves, and to provide access to authorized employees. The StockBox is intended for consumables, such as surgical supplies, that are used only once. When a predetermined amount of product is consumed, an RFID tag is placed within an RFID-enabled box, thereby triggering the reordering of that item from the warehouse or stockroom.

New York Hospital Queens installed two Smart Cabinets within its interventional radiology area in January 2012, in order to test the technology, and added a StockBox this spring. If the system proves to enable it to automate inventory management at the unit, the hospital plans to install the technology at other locations within its 519-bed facility, such as the interventional cardiology and operating rooms.

As products destined for the interventional radiology unit are received at the hospital, employees attach a passive high-frequency (HF) RFID tag to each item. They then utilize a bar-code scanner to read the product's serial number and link that information to the RFID number, as well as the product's make, model, size and expiration date, all of which are then stored in the LogiTag software, residing on the hospital's back-end system.

The Smart Cabinet is a locked receptacle containing five shelves, on which up to 350 implantable devices and other medical items are stored. If a hospital employee requires an implant or other items, he or she must first present an employee badge with a built-in RFID tag. The Smart Cabinet's RFID reader captures the tag's unique identifier and uses the LogiTag software to determine whether that individual is authorized to access that particular cabinet. If access is approved, the software sends instructions to release the lock, while simultaneously storing the ID number linked to that staff member's identity.

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