Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

Terso CEO: RFID will see double-digit growth in the healthcare market

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Joe Pleshek, the CEO of Terso Solutions, recently penned a column for WTN News about the increasing role RFID is playing in the healthcare and medical sectors. While growth is not nearly as strong as in the retail space, intriguing new use cases are expected to contribute to increased adoption in medical and healthcare.

Here’s an excerpt from the WTN News article:

By monitoring the usage of rental equipment and providing alerts when rental equipment is sitting idle, Texas Health Dallas has saved about $30,000 a month in rental savings. For years, hospitals simply threw money at the problem, buying and renting more equipment to make sure it was on hand when needed. With RFID, fiscally irresponsible purchases are becoming a thing of the past.

The same theory holds true for temperature sensitive items like drugs, orthopedic supplies, and cardiovascular products that can be stored in RFID-enabled cabinets, refrigerators and freezers like the ones manufactured by Terso Solutions. Using secure access, each inventory transaction is automatically captured and processed — in real-time. Then, data can be analyzed to track product usage, improve workflows, and make better business decisions. In addition, costly product spoilage can be avoided.

Hospitals are benefitting from other uses beyond asset tracking. For example, by placing higher-memory RFID tags on high value products, users not only gain the ability to track items, but the ability to keep track of product-specific information, such as maintenance reports and when tools were last calibrated.

Click here to read the full article.

Prosthetics market represents a multi-million tag market for RFID

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Research is evolving rapidly when it comes to using RFID technology in the medical and healthcare community. This week, researchers from the University of Cincinnati unveiled the results of their research about using RFID in the internal hospital supply chain. The data shows that hospitals can save at least 18 percent in labor costs by utilizing RFID to simplify manual re-stocking tasks.

And researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have developed a system that will soon allow RFID tags to be embedded on prosthetics like replacement knees and hips to provide better tracking of product recalls, infections, and routine follow-up exams.

While item level tagging at the retail level is exploding, the opportunities on the horizon in healthcare could thrust the technology to ubiquitous status in the medical and hospital environments.

The healthcare sector is expected to see dramatic growth when it comes to the use of RFID. While global shipments of RFID transponders in healthcare totaled 113 million units in 2010, that number is expected to climb to 185 million units this year. By 2015, VDC Research expects that the healthcare market will consume 884 million RFID tags, representing annual growth of just over 50 percent. It’s important to note that healthcare does not include pharmaceutical goods, another sector experiencing rapid growth.

As for the tagging of medical implants, University of Pittsburgh researchers predict that several million tags could be used in two to three years. Nearly 750,000 Americans have knee or hip replacement surgery each year, an indication of how big the global market is for tagging medical implants. Dr. Marlin Mickle, a professor of electrical and computer engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, and one of the researchers in charge of developing the RFID readers to be used with the tags, says that the RFID implant system could be up and running by the end of the year. First, it must gain FDA approval, a process that could take six months.

“Tagging of implantable medical devices can provide tremendous value to the manufacturer, healthcare professionals and patients, especially when integrated with sensor technology,” says Drew Nathanson, director of research operations at VDC Research. “Leading uses include identification of the device and the healthcare professionals who installed it and maintained it, and device and patient health. We are only at the beginning … there is significant potential in this market.”

The technology developed at the University of Pittsburgh uses human tissue instead of air as a conduit for radio waves. The noninvasive system, known as Ortho-Tag, features a wireless chip attached to the implant and a handheld reader that would allow physicians to view critical information about artificial knees, hips, and other internal prosthetics — as well as the condition of the surrounding tissue — that currently can be difficult to track.

The RFID tag would have information about the patient, the implant, and the procedure uploaded to it prior to an operation, says New Jersey-based orthopedic surgeon Lee Berger, the CEO of Ortho-Tag, Inc., and inventor of the tagged implant. In addition, sensors within the chip would gauge the pressure on the implant, the chemical balance and temperature of the tissue, and the presence of harmful organisms, which would allow potential infections to be treated before they become serious.

Infection control and prevention is likely to be the first and largest ROI area when the system is put in place. “The biggest problem with failures are the ones that become infected because that turns into a six-figure problem for the hospital,” says Mickle. “The hospital has to take it out and there is a lot of patient discomfort, so that is likely to be the first place where the benefit shows up.”

Berger says that the Ortho-Tag will likely be attached to implants by device manufacturers. He is currently negotiating with three implant manufacturers. Ortho-Tag would distribute the software and probe to physicians. For people with existing orthopedic devices, the company is considering producing wallet-sized cards with an affixed RFID tag uploaded with information about the patient and the implant, Mickle said.

“There has to be accountability for objects implanted in the body, and we hope that this technology will finally make orthopedic devices much easier to monitor and, thus, safer for patients,” says Mickle.

The University of Cincinnati analysis of hospital supply chains — how hospitals stock nursing stations with hundreds of medicines, materials and even office supplies — reveals that RFID could improve efficiencies by 18 percent.

The research, to be presented on June 22 at the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science Healthcare Conference in Montreal, has implications for affecting the significant costs associated with hospital supplies. On average, the study says that supplies and inventory account for 30 to 40 percent of an average hospital’s budget.

Using RFID in re-stocking procedures could also result in an average 38 percent reduction in the need for out-of-cycle replenishment, or “we need it now” emergencies, which are costly in terms of labor and time usage by employees, not to mention a potential risk for patients.

“Hospitals want to hit the right balance of sufficient, but not too many supplies,” says Claudia Rosales, a recently graduated doctoral student in quantitative analysis now at Michigan State University. “Keeping unnecessary levels of inventory can increase costs significantly. But lack of sufficient inventory may hinder patient care and disrupt nursing activities. So, there’s a cost associated with that too.”

 

Optimism high at RFID Live; new solutions and innovation drive the industry forward

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The annual RFID Live show is set to conclude in Orlando today, with an onslaught of new product announcements, the unveiling of new applications and solutions, and unforeseen optimism for the industry moving forward.

Activity in retail, aerospace and medical/healthcare is expected to skyrocket as new applications unfold in those sectors. Execs from Macy’s, Walmart, JC Penney and Dillard’s participated in a panel discussion to provide an update on the Item Level RFID Initiative, a joint effort to accelerate item level retail tagging. Some industry execs marveled that the four panelists joined together on the same stage to discuss RFID best practices when collaboration among competing retailers was unheard of just two or three years ago.

“We are rapidly moving to a world where everything in the Internet is connected, and the key element to that is RFID,” Gene Delaney, executive VP at Motorola, said in a keynote address. “Companies that convert data and filter information and get it into the hands of the right person at the right time will be able to make real-time decisions that can change the competitive landscape.”

Avery Dennison’s Jack Farrell kicked off the event’s opening day by elaborating on the company’s shipment of its one billionth tag last week, and pointing out that RFID is in the early stages of a very strong growth cycle. “We are seeing exceptional growth,” he says. “It’s across the board and it speaks well of the continued momentum behind RFID when you have large companies rolling out the technology because very simply — they know it will make them money.”

Farrell, vice president and general manager at Avery Dennison, said Avery is seeing the biggest growth in the retail apparel item level tagging, but “in three or four years it’ll be something else, whether a pharmaceutical application or authentication of consumer products.”

The show revealed a host of innovation occurring in the industry, from recent new chip announcements from Impinj and Alien Technology, to the tiny on-metal tags being developed by Xerafy for use on medical tools and other high value assets. While Alien says retail represents its biggest business sector, the company has signed five deals for bag tags at airports in Europe in the last 12 months, and has also seen increased activity in vehicle tracking in Mexico, Turkey, Thailand and parts of China.

German retailer Gerry Weber announced that it recently concluded spending an investment of about $2.7 million Euros to roll out RFID, and expects payback in two years. The investment does not include tags costs, which totaled approximately $2.8 million (U.S.) to tag about 28 million items.

One of the biggest examples of a game-changing application was ODIN’s announcement that it is partnering with the Mayo Clinic to commercialize a solution designed to automate tracking and data entry in pathology labs.

The solution could revolutionize the way that specimens are tracked as they move from one step to another at medical facilities. ODIN estimates that the average industry error rate of 10 percent could drop dramatically once the solution is introduced.

“The people at the Mayo Clinic are stunned that this is still a paper-based system,” says ODIN CEO Patrick Sweeney. “Each time a product comes into the lab, it gets re-labeled. One specimen might get re-labeled five or six times, and so it could be mislabeled during the process.”

“Pathology labs almost universally receive paper requisition forms with accompanying specimens for accessioning into the laboratory information systems,” says Schuyler Sanderson, a Mayo Clinic pathologist who has been championing RFID for AP specimen management at Mayo. “These paper requisition forms are typically filled in by hand from nursing staff and clinical providers. This practice represents a major source of specimen labeling errors, all of which have the potential for … adverse outcomes for patients.”

Mayo has been researching the RFID solution for four years, and hired ODIN last year to commercialize the solution. Mayo has already begun to roll out the solution at 42 labs in North America. Sweeney says that the average size lab could expect to pay about $500,000 for a solution, but could save $1-2 million per year, half from soft savings like labor costs and the other on material savings. ROI is expected in 12 months or less.

Sweeney expects the automated solution to become the norm for the medical industry. “You’ve got chain of custody, pedigree and accuracy through the whole system,” he says. “Mayo is committed to commercializing its IP around RFID and automating what they see as rudimentary processes. The ROI is significant but more importantly it just takes eliminating one error (and saving a life) to make this worthwhile. Now that the technology is out there that can prevent errors, medical facilities are at a liability risk not to use it. So we see it as a huge market opportunity.”

The solution clearly represents an example of how RFID can help to improve patient treatment and potentially save lives.

There are fun things we do at ODIN, like the social media applications with Vail Resorts,” says Sweeney. “Then there are things that are changing the world and this is an application that is changing the world.”

Sweeney also provided an update on his firm’s revenues, noting that sales increased 30 percent in the first quarter of 2011 over the same period last year. He expects healthcare to represent 50 percent of ODIN’s revenues in 2011.

Look for more coverage of this week’s show in next week’s issue of RFID 24-7.

RFID Live Day 2: ODIN medical solution grabs the industry spotlight

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

The most exciting news coming out of the second day of RFID Live was the announcement by ODIN that it is partnering with the Mayo Clinic to commercialize a solution designed to automate tracking and data entry in pathology labs.

The solution could revolutionize the way that specimens are tracked as they move from one step to another. ODIN estimates that the average industry error rate of 10 percent could drop dramatically.

“The people at the Mayo Clinic are stunned that this is still a paper-based system,” says ODIN CEO Patrick Sweeney. “Each time a product comes into the lab, it gets re-labeled. One specimen might get re-labeled five or six times, and it could be get mis-labeled during the process.”

ODIN CEO Patrick Sweeney

“Pathology labs almost universally receive paper requisition forms with accompanying specimens for accessioning into the laboratory information systems,” says Schuyler Sanderson, a Mayo Clinic pathologist who has been championing RFID for AP specimen management at Mayo. “These paper requisition forms are typically filled in by hand from nursing staff and clinical providers. This practice represents a major source of specimen labeling errors, all of which have the potential for … adverse outcomes for patients.”

Mayo has been researching the solution for four years, and hired ODIN last year to commercialize the solution. Mayo has already begun to roll out the solution at 42 labs in North America. ODIN CEO Patrick Sweeney says that the average size lab could expect to pay about $500,000 for a solution, but could save $1-2 million per year, half from soft savings like labor costs and the other on material savings. ROI is expected in 12 months or less.

There are fun things we do at ODIN, like the social media applications with Vail Resorts,” says Sweeney. “Then there are things that are changing the world and this is an application that is changing the world.”

Sweeney also provided an update on his firm’s revenues, noting that sales increased 30 percent in the first quarter of 2011 over the same period last year. He expects healthcare to represent 50 percent of ODIN’s revenues in 2011.

RFID makes major inroads into supply chain, healthcare and financial sectors

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

In case you missed Wednesday’s issue of RFID 24-7, here is our lead story.

There is major traction for item level RFID in the retail environment, but several other industries are also seeing rapid adoption. That’s been evident by the RFID-enabled hygiene systems being unveiled at this week’s annual conference hosted by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

In addition, there’s a big story unfolding in Europe, where Confidex has filled an order for 3.5 million tags for Container Centralen to use in tracking floral deliveries. The deal is the largest UHF RFID tag implementation for returnable transit items in the world, and is also the largest purchase order of EPC Gen2 specialty tags ever.

Lastly, keep an eye out for greater use of RFID in financial circles, including tagging bundles of cash. The recent publicity RFID gained in the theft of RFID-tagged poker chips from a Las Vegas casino has put more focus on how RFID could help to track large amounts of cash — from casinos, to armored cars and banks, to the large amounts of money moved by retailers like Walmart.

The European Central Bank has been using bar codes to help track large bundles of cash for several years. Recently, it began to look into using RFID. Central banks in the U.S. are also looking at the technology. Although the U.S. is far behind its European counterparts, the idea of using RFID to track and trace hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash is intriguing and makes sense.

Just as the healthcare industry is using RFID to track assets worth a quarter million or more, it makes sense to tag cash for the same reasons. Aside from providing visibility into the movement of money, such a solution would also guard against theft and counterfeiting and would assist in providing more accurate cash counts for banks, retailers and others.

“There has been a very aggressive effort with the banks in Europe to take those same [bar code] practices and add RFID where appropriate,” says Sue Hutchinson, director of industry adoption at EPCglobal. “When you think about retailers like Walmart and casinos and all of the other places on the planet that have to manage cash, RFID will be an interesting initiative. It’s in the very early stages here in the U.S. and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.”

Another recent deployment playing out in Europe is the tagging of a fleet of 3.5 million containers used to transport floral goods throughout Europe. The tracking system went live last month, with special UHF Gen2 RFID tags from Confidex being used for Container Centralen’s full scale RFID rollout called “Operation Chip It.” Confidex developed and delivered tags to IBM Denmark, which are used as an electronic seal by Container Centralen. The tag has been in development for over two years.

The new tag brings unprecedented transparency to the supply chain and improves overall quality of the CC container pool by reducing the risk of counterfeit containers working their way into the pool. Confidex developed the electronic RFID “e-seal” which securely authenticates the origin of the CC Container. The anti-tampering feature was achieved without compromising the small tag size and the read performance requirements of logistics operations.

To be effective, such a high quantity of tags also had to be easy to attach, without additional tools, in any conditions. The tag also needed to withstand harsh use outdoors. The e-seals are identified and verified with RFID handheld devices, supplied by NordicID and others.

Since the CC Container is also used as a retail display unit, flowers and plants can be transported directly from the grower to the consumer in the store. By eliminating the need for product handling in between, goods are less likely to get damaged and overall distribution costs are reduced.

“We’ve developed a unique total solution system for an incredibly demanding security RFID application,” says Jarkko Miettinen, vice president of new business development at Confidex.

Similar asset tracking systems are rapidly gaining acceptance in the healthcare and hospital environment, as are RFID-powered systems that track the hygiene habits of hospital personnel. So while hospitals benefit from operational gains, patients see distinct advantages as well.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that hospital acquired infections cause almost 100,000 deaths a year in the U.S. That’s why improving hand hygiene habits is so crucial. Birmingham, Ala.-based Princeton Baptist Medical Center recently registered a 22 percent reduction in healthcare associated infections by implementing Proventix’s nGage™ RFID based hand hygiene monitoring system.

The nGage system monitors hand hygiene compliance 24 hours a day, 7 days week. Healthcare workers wear badges that are uniquely recognized by control units at soap dispensers throughout the hospital. When a worker enters a room or area where there is a control unit, they are recognized and, upon the completion of a quality hand hygiene event, they are given important, patient-specific information (such as “the patient is at risk for a fall”), general employee information, or employee-specific information. The messaging creates incentives for healthcare workers at the point of care, improves workflow and creates opportunities for efficiencies while enhancing patient safety and quality of care.

“The information gathered in these case studies will help the industry understand how valuable health IT as a tool can be to improving patient safety and quality,” said David A. Collins, the director of healthcare information systems at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. “By sharing notable quality improvement outcomes, we hope these innovative examples will serve as guidance to others for improved healthcare delivery and demonstrate the benefits of health IT adoption.”

Survey: Medical device manufacturers pursue RFID technology

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

When it comes to content creation to drive traffic to the web, nobody understands it better than ODIN. The firm just completed a survey of major medical device manufacturers, which revealed some interesting trends about RFID adoption. The best news? Just over 60 percent of respondents say that they expect to start their next RFID project within six months. Click here to visit the ODIN blog and to view the survey results.

ClearCount Medical closes $5M in funding

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

ClearCount Medical Solutions, an innovator of patient safety solutions for operating rooms, has received a $5 million shot in the arm from Draper Triangle Ventures and other existing investors. The Series B financing will allow the company to drive market penetration and research and development of its RFID-based solutions for hospital patient safety applications.

ClearCount has developed an FDA-approved sponge counting and detection solution that was recently put into use at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare. The RFID-based platform uniquely identifies each sponge so that they can be easily counted and detected, avoiding having surgical sponges left in patients after medical procedures.

“Thanks to the strong backing of our investors, this past year ClearCount completed a valuable distribution deal, signed major new customers and introduced an important new product that is making surgical procedures safer every day,” David Palmer, CEO of ClearCount Medical Solutions, said in a release.

“ClearCount’s patented RFID technology and offerings are more relevant than ever,” said Mike Stubler, Managing Director of Draper Triangle. “As improving the quality of healthcare continues to be a national focus, solutions that can also impact the efficiency and value a hospital offers its patients are sure to be adopted.”

Retained sponges are the most frequent and dangerous of retained surgical items, a “Never Event” resulting in non-payment to hospitals and significant risk to patients. A large multi-center trial recently demonstrated that as little as a 30-minute surgical delay can nearly double the risk of infectious complications, so clearly every minute counts.

The company was also featured recently in the Wall Street Journal. Click here to read the article.

Korea will tag half of all pharmaceuticals

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

There’s big news out of Korea today, with the Korean government reporting that half of the prescription drugs in that country will carry RFID tags within five years. The report in the Korea Times says that RFID tags will be placed on drug containers by 2015 in an effort to create a wireless tracking system that enables better inventory control and a reduction in prescription mistakes. The Korean government estimates that tagging pharmaceuticals will save manufacturers about $1.6 billion annually, while also cutting down on counterfeiting.

RFID drives patient experience at Disney Family Cancer Center

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

The highly anticipated opening of the new Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center occurred this month, and the high-tech hospital — and the RFID technology that powers the patient experience — is getting rave reviews.

RFID 24-7 initially reported on the hospital’s plans for using RFID technology in September.

Hospital executives deployed a comprehensive, integrated RFID solution that relies on ThingMagic’s Astra UHF RFID readers to relay information from low profile passive RFID tags on patient’s ID badges to centralized applications that retrieve patient information in order to enhance the patient experience. This information includes patient preferences to activate custom hospital room settings – music, lighting, temperature – and location data that are sent to staff phone displays, allowing clinicians to greet or locate patients quickly.

“I walked through these doors and I swear it was like angels singing. I’m not a really spiritual person, but this is so beautiful the way it puts you at ease by diverting your mind from your treatment and using nature to help you relax,” said Julie Stevens, Disney Family Cancer Center’s first patient. “When I was treated at the hospital, I would ignore the scary room. I would close my eyes and put my mind in another place. I don’t have to do that here. They take me to that place.”

ThingMagic Astra readers are deployed as part of an innovative solution composed of complementary RFID products including the Reva Tag Acquisition Processor (TAP) from Reva Systems. RFID tag data acquired by the ThingMagic readers are sent to the TAP to determine “location,” and then delivered upstream to a visibility application for viewing by the clinical staff. Data from these RFID subsystems are also provided to the security and environmental control systems of the hospital. This integrated solution provides a platform for expansion as the Disney Family Cancer Center explores future plans to use RFID to further enhance patient experiences and maximize the hospital’s operational efficiencies.

“Passive RFID technology has been proven to lower costs and improve efficiencies in a hospital setting, but the work done at the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center shows it can impact something even more important – patient well-being,” said Yael Maguire, co-founder and CTO of ThingMagic. “As new health facilities open around the world, the Disney Family Cancer Center will be a model to follow for its dedication to patients through the most innovative uses of RFID technology.”

Ekahau offers money back guarantee; are 12-month interest-free payments next?

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Borrowing a sales tool that has enticed retailers and customers for decades, Ekahau is now offering a money back guarantee for businesses that install the company’s real-time location systems and are not satisfied with the solution’s performance.

The Ekahau Zero-Risk System Guarantee is available to all new customers. Prior to installation, Ekahau will conduct a site audit in order to develop a comprehensive performance report, which will serve as the basis of the system’s performance guarantee. Once the system is installed, a customer will have 30 days to review the system, ensuring that it performs as promised. Should the customer find any faults with the system, Ekahau will fix the problems at no cost or refund the cost of the system.

“When organizations are investigating the various RFID, RTLS and other location tracking technologies on the market today, small, localized pilots of those solutions often do not provide a clear picture of how the system would work when installed campuswide, or what cost overruns for additional infrastructure may arise,” said Tuomo Rutanen, senior vice president of worldwide marketing and business development at Ekahau. “Unlike other providers, Ekahau can offer customers peace of mind that the Ekahau RTLS solution will work as promised. We have the tools to predict the performance of the system before a single tag is deployed.”