Leading Oncology Clinics Recognize Merits of RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 @ 09:55 AM

Tags: RFID, Asset Tracking, Healthcare, Patient Tracking, Access Control, Document Management

XECAN RFIDThe state of Massachusetts has long been considered a hub for technology innovation and medical research. So, it’s no wonder that RFID linked the two together in our own backyard.

Recently, ThingMagic announced that several leading oncology clinics had deployed RFID solutions in order to improve patient safety and radiation treatment reliability. In the cases of Commonwealth Newburyport Cancer Center, Lahey Clinic and Jordan Hospital, they looked to RFID to help eliminate “wrong patient, wrong treatment,” commonly associated with human error.

The cure has arrived! No, it’s not medicine. It’s innovation with RFID. In the image to the left, a Jordan Hospital patient is wearing a XECAN lanyard with an RFID badge. When the patient walks into a CT scan room he is identified automatically by a ThingMagic Astra UHF RFID Reader installed in that room. Because of the extended read range of the reader, patients need only pass within approximately 15 feet to be recognized. Not to worry. Patient-identifiable information can only be viewed within the clinic, and only by authorized staff members.

When the patient's badge is read, their chart and treatment plan are immediately opened by the XECAN system. If another patient’s chart is open in the system at the time the new patient arrives at the CT scan room, the first chart is closed and the chart of the patient who is physically present is automatically opened. Treatment devices are also tagged so that they can be detected by ThingMagic Astra readers during treatment. Radiation cannot be started if treatment devices are incorrect or missing. Thi added measure of reliability delivered by the XECAN system gives patients and doctors peace of mind.

By automatically identifying the patient, the system eliminates the need for the patient to correct the spelling of their name or reiterate their appointment time, for example, when they have already signed up for an emotionally and physically taxing day. Reducing the manual tasks of the hospital staff allows them to spend more quality time with the patients.

In this application, RFID also replaces ID cards with barcodes which can often be cumbersome for the patients to scan if they’ve become worn.

When you put it all together – fewer manual tasks for clinicians, peace of mind for the patient and improved reliability for the doctors - the oncology clinics mentioned can offer a far more inviting medical experience. The situation allows for a more successful treatment. And who wouldn’t want that?

If you would like more information about this deployment, please download our case study:

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We plan to check in with these Massachusetts clinics in a few months to see how the implementation is going and if they’ve discovered even more unexpected benefits from using the RFID system.

We're also interested in your thoughts about the use of RFID in healthcare.  Where to you think it will have the most impact? What RFID-based systems are most effective? Is it best to start with small departmental deployments and scale or go for a full enterprise-wide deployment from the start?

RFID for Document Management

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Aug 13, 2010 @ 09:00 AM

Tags: RFID, Asset Tracking, Document Management

Giving Valuable Documents a Digital Identity

In many industries, the value of a printed document can be substantially higher than an equivalent weight of currency.  Losing or misplacing important documents such as health records and legal documents can have undesired security, confidentiality and financial consequences. 

To avoid the loss of critical media, some organizations are embedding RFID tags into valuable documents so they can be located and tracked in real time.  With RFID, these documents inherit a digital identity, giving staff the ability to search for and locate them as easy as clicking the search button on an Internet search page. 

While we’ve touched on the following RFID document management implementation in a previous blog post, we think it is worth expanding on as another example of users naturally interacting with RFID and where the technology is so integrated and transparent that it disappears into its environment.

An Industry Breakthrough for Florida AG’s Office

In a four storey Attorney General’s office in Florida, tracking down one of 21,000 available case files can be a nightmare. The file in question could be in any department, on any employee’s desk or misplaced somewhere no one would think to look.   

At the Florida State Attorney’s 15th Judicial Circuit Office, the file could also have made it over to the adjacent Palm Beach County Courthouse next door.  In order to locate this file for an approaching court date or deadline, mass emails would have to be sent to notify every employee.   In the Felony Department it was not unusual for all 120 staff members to stop what they are doing to focus all energy on the missing file.  This system is completely inefficient and on average could waste twenty minutes of employees’ time, adding up to $54,000 annually.

Florida AG Document TrackingWhen RFID was first suggested as the answer, cost per tag was around $5 which was far too expensive for the extensive case file collection.  Once UHF came on the market, the price dropped from dollars to pennies per tag, making RFID a much more realistic goal.  For their solution, the office turned to InnerWireless for their Wi-Fi tracking expertise.  InnerWireless specializes in accommodating wireless into existing buildings effectively, especially in the healthcare and government sectors. The proposed system used Alien Squiggle tags printed from a Zebra label printer and ThingMagic Mercury5 Readers which were chosen for their 100% read rates and market-leading performance.  Extensive testing of the Zebra printed labels such as moving tagged files in groups was done to ensure 100% accuracy.  After the successful field trial, CIO Dan Zinn organized a group of ten colleagues to make sure the project would fulfill everyone in the building’s needs.  In the end, 18,000 files were tagged with passive RFID tags and 300 employee badges were equipped with active RFID tags. Back end systems integrated into the readers allow employees to access the document tracking system right from their PC.  At any moment they can log on and see where the file in question is and who it is with. Delays from missing files are cut down to almost zero. Mass “missing file” emails asking employees to check which files they have are a thing of the past.

The Attorney’s Office went on to expand their system after a few years and turned to ThingMagic partner SimplyRFID. ThingMagic Astra Readers were chosen for their power-over-Ethernet capabilities and their easy integration into the building.  The office estimates that their $100,000 system paid for itself in less than 18 months.

“We think that this project was an industry breakthrough.  We addressed a mission-critical business problem with an RFID solution that has exceeded the goals identified at the onset of the project,” said Zinn.

Wouldn’t it be nice if confidential earnings releases, merger and acquisition memos, health records and legal documents could message their owners if they left the building?

RFID and Document Management

Posted by Yael Maguire on Thu, May 01, 2008 @ 11:19 AM

Tags: Item Level RFID, Document Management

RFID is most associated with supply chain applications and item level tagging. But over the last couple of years many other applications for RFID have emerged. One area that is getting an increasing amount of attention is using RFID in document management. In many industries, the value of a printed document can be substantially higher than an equivalent weight of currency. Critical media, legal or financial documents can be embedded with an RFID tag so the document can be located and tracked. It allows these documents to inherit a digital identity and gives computers the ability to search for and locate documents as easy as clicking the search button on an Internet search page.

It also increases information security. Important documents such as earnings releases, merger and acquisition memos, health records and legal documents can be linked to specific people or locations, and un-authorized document movement can be identified. Wouldn’t it be nice if an earnings report could message the CFO that it had left their office?

Two events at the recent RFID Live conference highlight the growth of RFID in document management. Lexmark announced a new RFID enabled printer drawer option for their T60, T642 and T644 laser printers. These are regular laser printers that can be equipped with a special drawer that contains a ThingMagic M5e embedded RFID reader. This allows the laser printer to print documents and other media and encode attached RFID tags.

Also at the show, Dan Zinn, Chief Information Officer of the Florida State Attorney’s office, presented on using RFID to manage case files and documents. The Florida Attorney’s office manages thousands of document case files. Using ThingMagic RFID readers as part of system designed with the help of our business partner Innerwireless, they’ve been able to make tracking and locating case files much more efficient.

We expect to see many more examples of RFID being used to track, locate and secure documents in the coming months.

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