For 10 years, some hospitals have been using bar codes and TrackCore Operating Room software to monitor biologic tissues and surgical implants, to comply with safety standards established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and The Joint Commission, the not-for-profit organization that accredits hospitals. But the manual process is laborious and often an afterthought for nurses, whose first priority is hands-on patient care, says Alan Brander, TrackCore's VP of national sales and a former chief nursing officer for a regional hospital. "Skipping steps in the interest of time jeopardizes compliance," he says.
The software is designed to integrate with patient electronic health records (EHR) and materials-management systems (MMS). But when tissues or implants are recalled, it's still cumbersome to locate items that must be removed from inventory and identify patients who have received the recalled items. "When there are issues with the chain of custody and inventory accuracy, there can be compliance issues," Brander says.
"We performed various customer workflow studies and realized that TrackCore software without RFID required nurses to record product movement in and out of storage, which still took a considerable amount of time," Brander says. "Using RFID technology would eliminate the need for nurses to log movement and provide real-time inventory visibility, automated temperature monitoring and nursing accountability and further workflow efficiencies to streamline the process for tissue and implant tracking."
TrackCore decided to integrate its software with RFID-enabled storage units. "RFID was a relatively new, yet building, technology in the health-care space," says James Casavant, TrackCore's CTO. "As we saw the technology maturing, its use became more viable for our needs, and at the same time, the cost of the technology began to fall, making it more affordable for our customers." Terso Solutions, which provides RFID-enabled cabinets, refrigerators and freezers to hospitals, had the technology and storage units TrackCore needed to meet customer demand.
TrackCore and Terso formed a partnership that resulted in the creation of TrackCore Operating Room With Integrated RFID Enclosures, launched in September 2014. To date, more than 30 U.S. hospitals have adopted the RFID solution, with many more existing customers preparing budgeting groundwork for the upgrade, MacGregor says. In addition to meeting the original goal of facilitating an automated workflow, he notes, hospitals that have deployed the solution are saving money, reducing errors and improving patient care.
West Virginia University Ruby Memorial Hospital, a 500-plus-bed facility with a Level 1 trauma center designation, upgraded to TrackCore RFID in 2015. "In a trauma center, people do not always go through the protocols we have in place," says Kimberly Cheuvront, Ruby Memorial's quality assurance coordinator of perioperative services. "There was a lot of follow-up to ID who the patient was, who received the implant." It was a situation that required paper chasing and time from nurses.
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