GUEST POST: Q&A with Paul Elizondo of MEPS Real-Time

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 @ 02:02 PM

Tags: RFID, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical Tracking

MEPS Real-TimeFounded in 2006 and headquartered in Carlsbad, Calif., MEPS® Real-Time, Inc. (mepsrealtime.com) is now a leading provider of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) solutions for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. Its suite of Intelliguard® Management Systems offer healthcare providers unprecedented real-time visibility of medical and pharmaceutical inventory to reduce supply chain costs, improve patient safety, increase efficiency of pharmacy and nursing staff and eliminate human error.

MEPS Real-Time® was established originally as a division of Safety Syringes Inc. which was recently acquired by BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) (NYSE: BDX). The company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Howard Energy Co., Inc. based in Traverse City, Michigan.  

Thanks to Paul Elizondo, Director of Engineering and R&D at MEPS for sharing his insights into the use of RFID in the healthcare market and for his thoughts on ThingMagic's embedded RFID technology and development tools.

Q. MEPS products are positioned as “RFID Solutions for Critical Inventory”.  Please comment on the types of inventory your products are used to manage and the value RFID enabling your products provides your customers?

A. Our solutions are focused on high-value, critical dose, controlled drugs and processes.  This is where we find the value proposition exists for our hospital customers.  When you have a drug that costs hundreds and even thousands of dollars per dose, there is an obvious value to reduce inventory levels and manage expiration dates.

Reducing inventory of high-value drugs can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars freed up for the hospital. But, the drugs must always be there when required for a patient.  Our systems provide real-time visibility of inventory, can provide immediate notification of minimum PAR levels, and are perfect solutions for a vendor managed inventory program.

These high-value drugs can also be an expiration risk.  Typically, inventory is manually rotated by pharmacy personnel as new inventory arrives so that the first to expire is the first to be utilized.  But, that doesn’t always occur.  Additionally, inventory can be stored in multiple locations throughout a hospital.  Our solutions provide real-time visibility to expiration dates and provide alerts when a drug becomes short-dated so pharmacy personnel can take appropriate action.

Another key value proposition is critical processes within the pharmacy where time-consuming tasks are performed.  One of these critical processes is the replenishment of pharmacy kits, trays and boxes distributed throughout the hospital.  Once used on a procedure (surgical or emergency), it is returned to the pharmacy.  Some trays contain more than 150 drugs.  The missing and used items must be identified, replaced and then each drug must be looked at to find the first-to-expire drug.  It is a process filled with human error potential and can take 30 minutes or more.  Our solution reduces the time to three to five minutes and with complete accuracy.

Our Intelliguard® Solutions include:

Intelliguard Medication Management – Features an Automated Dispensing Cabinet (ADC) that provides real-time, item-level visibility of pharmaceuticals with single and double-drawer options including Cold (2° - 8°C) storage.

MEPS IMSIntelliguard Inventory Management – Features Controlled Temperature Cabinets that enable continuous temperature monitoring and real-time inventory visibility of high-value, critical-care medications. Cabinets have preset temperature settings for Cold (2° - 8°C) or Controlled Room (20° - 25°C) storage. Available sizes are from small under-counter to large-capacity models.

Intelliguard Kit and Tray Management Systems – Features countertop unit or an all-in-one cart to automate tray inventory, replenishment and approval processes while significantly reducing required labor. Leveraging advanced RFID technology, enables scans of more than 150 medications in high-density trays, multi-layer tackle boxes and overlapping kit labels in a matter of seconds.

Q. Throughout its history, MEPS products have supported various RFID frequencies including 13.56 MHz high-frequency and 2.45 GHz passive, before settling on settling on EPC Gen 2/ISO 18000-6c UHF.  Can you share lessons learned with each technology and the advantages Gen2 UHF offers?

A. In the year 1999, we employed 13.56 MHz RFID technology in our first attempt to track medication in small enclosures. The complexity of the read antenna systems, resulting from the inductive coupling nature of the 13.56 MHz frequency, along with the non-deterministic, multi-tag read algorithm made it difficult to develop an accurate, repeatable and cost-effective system.

In 2003, MEPS decided to change frequencies and replace 13.56 MHz RFID technology with the recently developed 2.45 GHz RFID technology. This frequency offered the advantage of small read antennas, small RFID tags, high data rates, and a deterministic multi-tag read algorithm. While MEPS was able to develop and successfully deploy a refrigerated medication tracking product, reliability issues associated with the new technology and the lack of a worldwide standards made it difficult to move forward with commercial products.

In 2008, MEPS began the process of developing medication tracking solutions based on the newly ratified EPC Gen2 / ISO 18000-6c UHF RFID standard. The new air protocol standard offered high data rates, reliable RF communication, deterministic multi-tag read algorithm, noise mitigation, control of modulation type and control of other parameters for customizing the RFID identification process for challenging applications. In addition, this world standard at the UHF frequency has benefited integrators and end users by creating competition around a single air protocol resulting in higher performing tags and readers while reducing cost of ownership.

MEPS Real-Time has developed a large portfolio of intellectual property including trademarks, patents and patents pending.

Q. The adoption of UHF RFID in healthcare seems to be growing.  What is MEPS experiencing and what are your expectations for the future of UHF in this industry?

A. The business is experiencing huge growth and interest in our Intelliguard RFID Solutions.  We believe this has occurred because technology is quickly being identified as one of the only ways to reduce healthcare cost, improve quality of care, help prevent medication errors and increase staff efficiency.  These are the key drivers in healthcare today.

We believe UHF RFID is an excellent enabling technology for many solutions in the hospital.

Today versus several years ago, customers are able to identify and purchase solutions instead of technology.  As other RFID/Wireless solutions are successfully implemented with a positive ROI, such as RTLS/asset tracking solutions, customers consider additional opportunities to expand the benefits.

Research shows this trend continuing at a more rapid pace.  New regulations such as the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) will increase demand.  Costs will be reduced and capabilities will increase for UHF readers, antennas, inlays and smart labels because of the adoption in retail and healthcare.  This will open up more opportunities with pharmaceutical manufacturers to selectively replace barcode with RFID where there is a need for greater visibility of inventory.

Q. What do you see as the greatest barriers to integrating RFID into products and solutions?

A. Barriers that were there several years ago, are no longer there.  UHF has all of the capabilities of HF and has greater long-term opportunities to expand and develop.  It is a great solution for supply chain and MEPS has demonstrated that in all of our technology solutions as well as with our business partners.

The hardware, database and inlay/tag solutions are available. The biggest barrier is overcoming the inertia of (hospitals, medical clinics, etc.) continuing to operate in the same historical manner. The challenge is not so much in getting the “tag cost lower,” which has been a barrier in the past, but in demonstrating the value added and cost savings of employing true tracking and inventory systems.

Q. ThingMagic recently released our Mercury xPRESS Platform to simplify the integration of UHF RFID into products and solutions.  As an early adopter of the Platform, what has MEPS’ experience been and which features do you think will assist your development efforts the most?

A. MEPS is developing several enclosure solutions for tracking medication in the healthcare market. These solutions require a small or headless computer system that can be configured for connection to a database wirelessly, by Ethernet or USB interface.  The Mercury xPress Platform provides this flexibility as well as allowing the use of either the M6e or M6e Micro readers depending on the application. In addition, the Mercury xPRESS platform delivers an array of digital inputs and outputs for process control.

Q. A key feature of the xPRESS Platform is its extensible architecture, giving developers the flexibility to design for the future using a single platform.  For example, over time, the xPRESS Platform will include a variety of communication interfaces such as Wi-Fi, POE, GPRS, GPS, 4G/LTE and a library of market and application specific sample applications.  How do you feel this will support the development of RFID products in general and benefit MEPS® future development?

A. MEPS is developing RF-enabled enclosures for tracking medication in both stationary and mobile applications. As these solutions expand to address new tracking applications, the flexibility of the xPRESS Platform will facilitate the reconfiguration of products for new RF antenna systems, user interfaces, and control systems. 

 

MEPS®, MEPS Real-Time® and Intelliguard® are registered trademarks and RFID Solutions for Critical Inventory are trademarks of MEPS Real-Time, Inc. 

Smart Medication Administration with RFID

Posted by Anna Zauner on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 @ 10:20 AM

Tags: RFID, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical Tracking, Inventory Management

PharmaThe national discussion about our healthcare system remains a hot topic, including what can be done to reduce healthcare costs while increasing the quality of patient care. As part of this equation, hospitals are constantly struggling with the task of managing inventory and budgets in order to keep costs in line. We’ve introduced the prospect of using RFID to solve many challenges in the healthcare market including cost control, and honestly, the opportunities seem limitless. Check out some of our previous posts to learn more.

In addition to improving cost control, healthcare facilities around the world are continuously improving processes related to the five “rights” of medication administration – an extremely important element of patient care. The five “rights” include:

  • Right patient
  • Right drug
  • Right dose
  • Right route
  • Right time

ThingMagic partner, MEPS Real-Time is taking a lead in this area by offering the RFID enabled INTELLIGUARD Automated Dispensing Cabinet!

MEPS has partnered with ThingMagic and is using the M5e embedded UHF RFID module to manage high-value, critical-dose medication dispensing and delivery to patients. By design, INTELLIGUARD’s real-time item level visibility prevents drug expiration losses and reduces unnecessary inventory and costs.

A brief case study:

Sharp Memorial Hospital is San Diego’s largest emergency and trauma center. Sharp has 5,000 products in its formulary with around $2 million in inventory at any given time. At Sharp, like other hospitals, some drugs are infrequently prescribed, but Sharp can’t risk NOT having them in stock. Previous inventory process often resulted in significant loss due to expiration and the traditional dispensing cabinets that required manual counting and barcode scanning were prone to errors.

Solution:

INTELLIGUARD Automated Dispensing Cabinets from MEPS Real-Time were put in place at Sharp Memorial Hospital. These cabinets automatically read the contents of each drawer in real time, eliminating the need for manual scans and alerting the staff of upcoming expiration dates.

Over the course of an 8 month study, Sharp confidently reduced PAR levels while eliminating fear factor buying. In addition, no medications expired unused and there were no stock-outs.

The bottom line?  INTELLIGUARD Automated Dispensing Cabinets – powered by ThingMagic RFID - are a proven solution for helping pharmacists manage drug inventory while reducing costs, increasing employee efficiency, and maintaining the highest level of patient care.  Check out the video case study below to learn more!

MEPS Video

Hospitals Should Consider a Phased Approach to Deploying RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 @ 03:57 PM

Tags: RFID, Asset Tracking, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical Tracking, Patient Tracking, Asset Management

Wireless HospitalIn our last post about RFID in healthcare, we explored the benefits of Passive UHF RFID. 

RFID in general presents many benefits for the healthcare industry, such as high value asset tracking, materials management, patient and staff workflow, and being used to support compliance with industry mandates and regulations including Sarbanes-Oxley, JACHO and OSHA. Because of the variety of applications and departmental functions that can be supported by an RFID visibility solution, selecting the right solution, or even the right project to begin with, can be daunting.

Many hospitals have Wi-Fi infrastructures for their voice and data processing needs. However, few have the density of Wi-Fi access points necessary for accurate real-time location tracking. Implementing a new WLAN infrastructure, or even just updating the Wi-Fi coverage, can be costly. Even with the necessary Wi-Fi coverage, RTLS/Wi-Fi based tags may not work well for certain applications. Such hurdles can include large tag size, time-limited battery life, required periodic re-calibration to maintain location accuracy and limitations in high interference areas like radiology.

Implement Passive RFID First

While RFID technologies can help achieve certain objectives and lower costs, it is still necessary to consider the cost of infrastructure changes and time commitment required from hospital IT staff.  With this in mind, a proven and practical approach is to start with low cost and easy to implement Gen2 Passive RFID. It limits the work required to the existing infrastructure and helps control costs. Gen 2 passive readers and tags can utilize the existing data processing network infrastructure and, in many cases, do not require extensive IT staff involvement to deploy. By utilizing lower cost, easy to deploy passive RFID-based systems as the initial step, hospitals can significantly improve productivity, offer enhanced patient services, and improve quality of care within current budget and IT program restraints – while having invested in a platform for growth.

A variety of reader and tag combinations allows hospitals to choose where they would like to deploy a Passive RFID visibility solution, usually based on where the need is greatest. The flexibility lets the hospitals be behind the wheel vs. being bound by any limitations from the technology. For example, a hospital can begin by tracking high-value mobile equipment such as wheelchairs, stretchers, crash carts, infusion pumps, etc. Other items in the hospital setting that can be monitored with RFID include:

  • Item-level pieces – surgical instruments and dressings, medicines, linens and uniforms
  • Medical records – files, documents, x-rays and other diagnostic images. RFID systems support the rollout of the electronic health records.
  • Patient movement and identification for proper administration of associated treatment plans

As the first high-value mobile equipment phase is completed and begins to yield a return on investment, the hospital can embark on the next phase. This phased approach allows a hospital department to measure and manage asset, material, patient and/or staff flow and productivity through each stage of the process. It’s been proven to deliver a near-immediate return on investment.

To learn more, download our case study: Greenville Hospital Deploys Integrated RFID Solution for Operating Room Asset Tracking

Check ThingMagic out at HIMSS where we’ll be showcasing healthcare operations made better with Passive RFID.

UHF is the Magic Pill for RFID in Healthcare

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Jan 03, 2012 @ 02:19 PM

Tags: RFID, Healthcare, Embedded RFID, Pharmaceutical Tracking, Inventory Management, Patient Tracking, Process Control, Wristband Tags, Wander Prevention, Temperature Monitoring, Announcements

Wireless HospitalAs we look to 2012, our first major event is HIMSS and we can’t wait. The healthcare market has been at the forefront of RFID adoption, discovering a plethora of ways in which the technology can streamline operations, reduce human error and make the patient experience exponentially better.

This year HIMSS (February 20-24, Venetian Sands Expo Center, Las Vegas) will host the Intelligent Hospital Pavilion in which it will showcase a variety of technologies that work together to deliver real-time patient information to the mobile devices and tablets of physicians and hospital staff (Visit ThingMagic in KIOSK #16). Scenarios from the OR, ICU and ED and will demonstrate how information is coordinated from diverse patient care environments with Near Field Communications (NFC), RFID, RTLS (real time locating systems), sensors and wireless technologies.

RFID has proven its worth in healthcare and continues to improve procedures and enhance environments from tracking expiration dates on medication, to personalizing the experience for cancer patients, to managing inventory of critical dose medication, to helping surgeons locate tumors.

According to a Frost & Sullivan report, RFID: Unlocking Opportunities in the Healthcare Vertical from July 2011, “The RFID market is expected to witness a significant increase in revenues by 2017, due to its acceptability, capability, and credibility. It has taken an affirmative position in the healthcare sector owing to substantial cost savings and convenience.”

RFID’s Success in Healthcare Can Be Attributed to Passive UHF RFID

Barcodes have long been used in the hospital supply chain for tracking products, supplies and inventory control. By using barcodes on forms, wrist bands and records, healthcare providers have driven efficiencies into the patient registration process.

Passive UHF RFID can enhance or replace many supply chain management, patient registration, patient safety, clinical care, and billing workflows that currently use barcodes. While both barcodes and RFID can be used for these activities, Passive UHF RFID is more effective due to the additional automation and cost saving opportunities it delivers.  Simply put, Passive UHF RFID enables the rapid and precise measurement of almost every operation in the healthcare setting - from counting and verifying the number of items in each surgical tray to analyzing the slightest body movement.

Passive UHF RFID allows tags to be read from far away so that readers can be deployed in a variety of ways including permanent installations wired to the existing hospital Ethernet network, within strategically located “portals,” and integrated into mobile and stationary devices like carts and cabinets. This flexibility is complemented by the wide variety of Passive RFID tags that can be affixed to or integrated into consumable inventory, handheld surgical tools, patient wristbands, photo ID badges, and many other items.

Put simply, Passive RFID is the most economical way to measure a large number of parameters in healthcare setting, enabling innovative patient-centric applications that would otherwise not be implemented

Proven Uses of Passive UHF RFID Solutions Include:

Departmental Loss Prevention – proven to deliver an ROI in a short period of time by saving high value assets from being mistakenly discarded.

Asset Tracking – identifies the location and travel patterns of many types of valuable assets in real-time, resulting in reduced product loss, reduced capital equipment purchases & leases, and enhanced patient services.

Patient/Staff Tracking – tracks the travel patterns of staff, patients and personnel in real-time for access control, improved patient & staff workflows, reduced wait times, and integration into anti-abduction, wander prevention, and hand hygiene solutions.

We’re sure to see these and other uses in action at the Intelligent Hospital Pavilion at HIMSS. For more examples of ThingMagic in Healthcare, please download the following case studies:

Disney Family Cancer Center Case Study: The Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center Implements Innovative RFID Solution to Enhance Patient Experience and Increase Efficiency

Hopefully what happens in Vegas, doesn’t stay in Vegas!

Medication Expiration Date Tracking with RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Jan 24, 2011 @ 11:10 AM

Tags: RFID, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical Tracking

RFID-enabled medicine cabinets help keep valid medications available when needed; reducing the amount of unused and returned medication

Media coverage of national healthcare issues didn’t lose any momentum during the holidays or into the New Year. With HIMSS around the corner, the subject is actually heating up even more. It’s timely for us to revisit RFID in healthcare settings and how the technology is helping to improve patient care, make inventory and asset tracking processes more efficient and reduce overall costs.

Did you ever wonder what would happen if you took the Tylenol that had been expired by a month or two, or even a year? Probably nothing. When over-the-counter or prescription drugs expire, they lose their effectiveness. This isn’t a big deal if you’re trying to cure a mild headache with what you have in your medicine cabinet. But what if you’ve been taken to the emergency room because you were bitten by a scorpion and need the antivenom – and quickly? Industry best practices wouldn’t be all that effective because ideal supply levels in an Arizona hospital wouldn’t translate for a northern California hospital.  

A few months ago we highlighted a solution developed by ThingMagic partner MEPS Real-Time, Inc. that aimed to eliminate medication dosing errors and improve inventory systems. That same Intelliguard™ RFID solution is now being tested by a large hospital to track the expiration date of critical medications that are not frequently administered; such as life-saving, but slow-moving medications.

The system employs standard EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) passive RFID tags and readers. A staff member attaches an RFID label to each medicine packet, consisting of a single dose. He then places each tagged item on the reader and collects the tag's pre-encoded information. The Intelliguard software is used to associate the specific ID with necessary information regarding that drug. Once checked in, the drugs are placed into an Intelliguard storage cabinet.

A ThingMagic M6e RFID reader module embedded into each cabinet scans the inside of the cabinet for a daily inventory. Hospital staff members know where the drugs are and what’s in stock at all times. The result is a reduction in the amount of drugs that are never administered because they past their expiration date. The Intelliguard system also automates the reordering process so that the hospital can ensure it always has an adequate supply of each drug.

According to an Accenture report from a few years ago, the pharmaceutical industry experienced about $2 billion in drug returns annually. At that time, Accenture estimated that RFID technology could cut drug returns in half. It would be interesting to see what the numbers would be today.

As usual, RFID tackles a few problems at once. While ensuring that uncommon, yet life-saving drugs are available - with valid dates - when needed, RFID is also helping healthcare facilities cut waste and automate operations, therefore reducing overall costs. I think we’ve seen this movie before. And all good movies deserve a sequel.

In fact, ThingMagic will be participating at HIMSS 2011 in the RFID & RTLS Showcase.  Please stop by booth 7381, kiosk #11 to explore how RFID can help you address your hospital safety, cost-saving and productivity needs.

RFID for High-Value, Critical-Dose Medication Inventory

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Nov 29, 2010 @ 09:13 AM

Tags: MEPS Real-Time, RFID, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical Tracking

Are You Prepared For The Future?

MEPS RealTimeWith all the national discussion about our healthcare system, the debate rages on about what can be done to reduce cost while increasing the quality of patient care.  Well, RFID can play a significant role in productivity and cost savings solutions that support a number of areas within hospitals and other healthcare facilities.  We’ve already discussed several RFID-enabled solutions in our blog and within our 100 Uses of RFID program, and interestingly enough, 3 of the top 5 most viewed entries in our 100 Uses of RFID program are healthcare related, including:

Enhancing the Patient Experience with RFID

Hospital Inventory Control with UHF RFID

The Batteryless RFID Imperative in Healthcare

Reducing the Risk of Medication Errors with Real-Time Visibility

In addition to being used to better mange high-value assets and provide enhanced patient experiences, RFID can also have a significant positive impact on the productivity of nursing and pharmacy staff, while reducing the risk of medication errors. 

According to several national studies, there are 400,000 preventable medication injuries every year in America's hospitals.  While barcodes have been used to manage medication distribution for some time, by providing real-time visibility of pharmaceutical inventory with RFID, hospitals can implement inventory management capabilities beyond existing barcode systems.

Recognizing this opportunity, ThingMagic partner MEPS Real-Time, Inc. has developed the Intelliguard™ RFID solution for critical inventory, including high-value, critical-dose medications. Thingmagic readers play an integral role in the system components - providing visibility and efficiency from the pharmacy to the patient bedside. 

Watch the MEPS Real-Time Intelliguard video:

By reading multiple RFID tags within a tote or container, INTELLIGUARD’s Pharmacy Reader makes receiving distributor shipments at the hospital pharmacy efficient and accurate.  Real-time inventory control is maintained as medication is distributed within the hospital to an INTELLIGUARD Automated Dispensing Cabinet.  The Automated Dispensing Cabinet increases nursing efficiency by eliminating manual counting and item-level barcode scanning, and through access to ambient and refrigerated medications in one location.  The INTELLIGUARD Patient Bedside Reader assists with the compliance and verification necessary to eliminate medication errors.  Real-time reporting simplifies regulatory compliance and optimizes product shelf-life for better return on investment.

MEPS Real-Time has implemented a pilot study at a major San Diego healthcare facility to provide an inventory management system which tracks the expiration date of high-value, critical-dose medications.  The hospital pharmacy believes that RFID is the only solution that will provide the required visibility while eliminating the item-level counting and inefficiencies associated with their existing barcode system.

Further information is available at www.mepsrealtime.com and a new Intelliguard video is available for viewing at http://www.youtube.com/user/MEPSRealTime.

RFID Keeps its Cool

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Sep 08, 2010 @ 11:44 AM

Tags: RFID, Supply Chain, Pharmaceutical Tracking

Temperature Tracking in Real Time for Sensitive Shipments

PharmaAdmit it. In addition to laughing at the humor of this Nextel commercial, you found interesting how easy it was to know inventory levels, track a shipment and its ETA.  That was a few years ago, and today, people have come quite accustomed to knowing, at any given time, where their package is and when it will get to its destination. And a late delivery is not an option.

But in some industries, speed of delivery isn’t the priority – or at least not the only priority. Temperature is important, too. Pharmaceutical companies are painfully aware of the need to track temperature because the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that they guarantee acceptable temperatures of drugs in transit. Having had to carry Epi-Pen myself, I fully understand that temperatures that are both too high and too low will render them useless. And that’s a scary thought if the only remedy to anaphylactic shock isn’t going to work because of something that is easily within my control. But is it easily within the control of the pharma companies?

They have many, many more potential pitfalls than the customer who needs to be aware of where he’s storing his prescription drugs. They are dealing with transporting drugs through different climates, as well as the complex path of the deliveries which could involve handoffs between transit and temporary storage points. Envision a line that leads from the factory to the product’s ultimate destination. Along this line are supply chain “checkpoints,” where the shipment can either change from road to air, for example, go into storage or go through some other status change. As it moves from one leg of the journey to the next, the environment around the package changes.

Among other shipping companies, DHL has had to figure out how to manage these challenges.  In addition to the FDA mandate, DHL received requests from pharmaceutical customers to offer more options for temperature-controlled logistics. The initial method to meet that need was to use specialized, highly insulated containers that would maintain the desired temperature range. This method proved to be effective, but very costly. It added weight to the shipments and required more packing time making it economically impractical on a large scale.

That’s where RFID came in. As quick background, Deutsche Post World Net (DPWN), the parent company of DHL, formed the Technology and Innovation Management (TIM) Group. Led by its director, Dr. Keith Ulrich, the TIM Group formulated a plan to use RFID technology to track the temperature of shipments at various points from departure to arrival. IBM Global Business Services mapped out the framework which included where and when readings should occur. For RFID expertise, the team engaged the IBM Sensor and Actuator Solutions organization and IBM business partners whose products use RFID technology to track the freshness and temperature integrity of goods.

The RFID system is designed to check and report the temperature of the shipment at every supply chain checkpoint, so DHL knows if there is a problem before the shipment even reaches the airport. That way, DHL can stop the shipment and initiate a new one, minimizing the impact on the customer. In a nut shell, real-time temperature monitoring provides pharmaceutical manufacturers with greater control of their distribution processes. And because it can be delivered at relatively low cost and delivers strong value to the customer, DHL’s first-of-a-kind solution serves as a competitive differentiator.

With this type of solution, I think I’d entrust my Epi-Pens to DHL. How about you?

Hospital Inventory Control with UHF RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, Jul 22, 2010 @ 10:42 AM

Tags: Goods That Talk, RFID, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical Tracking

What if Your Goods Could Talk?

As introduced in posts earlier this week, RFID technology offers great potential to significantly reduce costs while improving materials management and inventory operations throughout hospitals and other healthcare facilities.  RFID-based solutions help hospitals answer the most fundamental questions of knowing who and where its patients and resources are.  With this data, hospitals can enhance a number of processes related to asset management, patient tracking and throughput, inventory control, and patient-centric services.

Passive RFID-based inventory control solutions provide real-time data on inventory availability and use as items move from storage to individual departments and ultimately to the clinicians and patients who use them.  This accurate management of the hospital supply chain – from scheduling through discharge – is essential to improving workflow and charge capture.  

Helping to drive these efficiencies into the healthcare market, Goods That Talk (GTT), located in southern Brazil has developed innovative UHF RFID-based solutions, serving the entire hospital service chain including hospitals, clinical offices, distributors and manufacturers.  GTT is partnered with ACURA RFID Systems, a longstanding ThingMagic partner focused on developing and distributing RFID tags and readers to markets such as healthcare, mining, logistics, transportation, industrial automation, chemical, security, and several others.

Included under the umbrella of GTT’s GTmed solutions, Gt Cabinets integrate ThingMagic UHF RFID readers to improve the management of implantable medical devices and drugs needed during surgical procedures.

Goods That Talk GTmed

The time between consumption and invoicing and the rigorous need for safety and coordination of the stock of these items makes product monitoring difficult.  By tagging each of these items with RFID-EPC Gen 2 tags and reading the inventory in real-time with UHF RFID readers integrated into the cabinets, hospitals can automate the management of intermediary stocks, minimize safety stock holdings, and create a proactive system of replenishment that streamlines the entire supply chain.

In an era where healthcare costs are increasing at the same time that hospital profitability is decreasing, hospital administrators are challenged with finding new ways to run their organizations more efficiently.  These solutions are just a few examples of how low cost, easy to deploy Passive UHF RFID provide hospitals with an economical way to measure a large number of parameters in hospital settings, streamline workflows and introduce efficiencies and cost savings across the entire healthcare supply chain.

What uses of RFID in healthcare do you find most beneficial?  What technology trends are you seeing that address the cost savings and efficiency needs of hospital administrators?  What if your goods could “talk” to you? 

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