Ensuring patient safety and accountability of instruments has become an increasingly technology-reliant process for most healthcare providers. Retired nurse Carol Schmucker recalled that more often than not, medical instruments get misplaced as they get caught in between bed linens and accidentally tossed away or worse, left behind in a patient’s body after an operation. Despite the mandatory process of accounting for instruments before and after a surgery, these tiny instruments are still often misplaced due to human error.
With these challenges at hand, Schmucker set out to improve patient safety in hospitals and ensure that instruments were not inadvertently thrown away with the invention of the patented Surgical Safety System. Created by her friend Fred Schoville and his team of engineers from Michigan, the core of the patented Surgical Safety Scanner system lies in Xerafy’s RFID tags for the instrument tagging because its small size enables it to be easily attached to instruments without getting in the way of that instrument’s functionality. Xerafy’s tags are also unique for their ability to withstand decontamination and sterilization processes with no damage to the RFID tag, unlike bar-codes and other RFID tags. An easy to use hand-held scanner is utilized to identify and view the instruments — individually or in groups (sets/trays) — within seconds on a screen rather than only by an individual’s visual assessment. Staff use a hand-held scanner to scan from one instrument to a whole surgical tray of instruments to make sure all are accounted for at any time before, during and after a surgery, and at multiple facility locations. That saves operating turnover time versus using visual counts and saves costs in replacing expensive lost instruments. Continue reading
The expansion of the Internet of Things can potentially open up previously unheard of levels of data granularity in the supply chain via the real-time tracking of goods and assets. But getting those “things” connected to the network is not as straightforward a proposition as some IoT proponents have made it out to be.
There’s an interesting column on TechTarget about the need for a more holistic view of the Internet of Things. Yes, there will be lots of data generated by smart devices, sensors, RFID tags, and other nodes on the network. But as author David Teich points out in the article, getting that data into the types of analytic programs needed to make sense of it all will require standardized APIs that allow different vendors to link to each others systems seamlessly.
Network infrastructure vendors will also play a key role. If there will truly be billions of new devices sending data, then both wireline and wireless infrastructure vendors will need to accommodate the increase in traffic. That’s not only true of wireless wide area network providers, but also for company intranets that will potentially carry larger data payloads. Continue reading
The Internet of Things (IoT) will change the way all businesses, governments, and consumers interact with the physical world.
According to Business Insider Intelligence’s “The Internet of Things 2015” report, there will be 34 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020, up from 10 billion in 2015 and businesses will be the top adopter of IoT solutions to improve their bottom line by 1) lowering operating costs; 2) increasing productivity; and 3) expanding to new markets or developing new product offerings. Governments will be the second-largest adopters of IoT ecosystems for increasing productivity, decreasing costs, and improving their citizens’ quality of life.
The expansion of the Internet of Things will rely on the increasing “connectedness” of assets and equipment — the ability for machines, appliances, vehicles, etc., to communicate with a network (or each other) so they can be remotely controlled, or provide operational or environmental data.
But that notion is largely built around “things” that already have onboard electronics. What about previously unconnected items? How far can that idea be expanded? It may be valuable to pull data from all types of assets — carts, tools, surgical instruments, packaging. What if, instead of simply making a car a node on the network, you could add embedded connectivity to individual parts on that car as well, right down to a single sparkplug or air duct? Continue reading
Automated tracking of medical devices using RFID can improve asset utilization, save time and labor, reducing total cost of ownership because staff no longer have to perform daily counts and reports, search for instruments, or keep track of instrument sterilization and maintenance records to enable quality control and safety improvements.
However, RFID tags affixed to medical equipment must meet a number of requirements in order to function properly in the healthcare environment.
- First, the tags must be small enough to be attached to instruments reliably without interfering with its use or balance. Tags that cannot be attached and scanned reliably can undermine the entire asset management initiative.
- The tag must have a reasonable size-to-performance ratio to be meaningful so it can be easily tracked within a reasonable read range around metal.
- Tags, once attached to instruments, must be biocompatible and rated to withstand sterilization and autoclave processes. The tags must also be durable enough to survive regular operational use in a hospital environment such as drop test impact.
In addition to the physical requirements of RFID for medical devices, there are also emerging track-and-trace regulations to keep in mind. Starting last September, certain classes of medical devices were required to carry a unique device identifier (UDI) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The number of devices that fall under the rule will expand each year through 2020, and the passing of the most recent deadline (Sept. 25) extended the requirement to all implantable, life-supporting or life-sustaining devices in all classes.