Ortho, implants, scopes, laparoscopy: Loaner instrumentation has become essential to Healthcare Institutions and Medical Device Manufacturers. They are managed using metal and plastic trays designed to handle the surgical devices and protect them during the sterilization process. Trays, containers, cassettes are now available with electronic tracking to fully digitalize loaner management programs.
Medical device manufacturers have been at the forefront of the digitalization of loaner instrumentation tracking to automate and enable consignment programs. As a result, they benefit directly from streamlining inventory in the field and location and identification by deploying total visibility into their loaners’ workflow.
Eventually, the digitalization of loaner tracking supports better outcomes for patients, thanks to improved coordination and communication with institutions regarding scheduling, arrival/departure from the facility, processing.
Loaner Instrumentation in the OR and SPD/CSSD
As with all required instrumentation, the OR will focus on getting the right instrumentation sets, on time, in the right room. The sets are to be built based on doctors’ preferences. Each set prepared for a specific case is identified to help the perioperative nurses ensure an optimal setup for patient safety. Eventually, loaner tray tracking should allow for full traceability, where each set is linked to a doctor, an operating room, and a procedure, in line with UDI requirements.
SPD/CSSD departments are still learning to deal with the added complexity stemming from loaner instrumentation management.
The increase in the number of trays, containers, cassettes represents a logistical challenge, compounded by its impact on patient safety and quality of service: How to decontaminate, process, and handle instruments that are less common or particularly rare and complex? How to access their count sheets and instructions for use? How to know the history records of a loaner set and document its processing at the facility?
While the use of loaner instrumentation might be temporary, the SPD/CSSD department is responsible while in the custody of the healthcare institution when it comes to cleaning, sterilization, maintenance, inventory integrity. As such, any technology considered will need to be safe for all standard processing methods, particularly when it comes to sterilization: Autoclave/dry heat, ETO, cold solutions...
Digitalizing Loaner Tray Tracking
RFID tracking is now taking over from the first-generation tray tracking systems that were relying on barcodes, QR codes, and other camera/computer vision technologies, thanks to a number of critical advantages over these older technologies. Used with the right loaner management software, RFID tracking enables real-time inventory.
RFID has a long history of usage in the medical field, and as such is fully interoperable with existing systems. It allows for automated inventory, and is fully operational in the OR, in SPD/CSSD, and in the field, providing full data accuracy. Moreover, the unique identifiers provided by RFID tags are UDI-compliant for full traceability from manufacturer to patient.
The tracking devices come in the form of Passive UHF RFID tags that are attached to the loaner trays. They are made of medical-grade materials such as 316L stainless steel and engineered plastics, and are shock resistant and processing-safe, being designed to withstand standard processing and sterilization methods.
The RFID tags fit both metal and plastic trays and take advantage of existing holes on surgical trays to provide a perfect fit using rivets or screws. The addition of metal inserts ensures a solid bond with the trays throughout the rigors of processing, while the option to use screws allows for easy removal or replacement if required.