Sunnybrook Hospital relies on RFID in the OR
High-tech for the highest efficiency: Feig Electronic provides RFID reader solutions for the healthcare industry to identify, track, locate, and authenticate medical equipment and healthcare supplies, and to help improve patient care and safety.
When solutions for inventory management, patient and equipment identification, or temperature monitoring are required, Feig can offer suitable UHF RFID products for various applications and use cases.
By Andreas Löw, Marketing & Corporate Communication, Feig Electronic
Efficient inventory management
Enabling accurate tracking solutions for medical supplies and equipment allows hospitals to focus on what they do best: patient care. RFID-based inventory systems monitor the current stock levels of various assets which are used in hospitals and laboratories, such as medicine and reagents, blood and plasma bags, surgical instruments, textiles, and much more.
Typically, intelligent cabinets or smart shelves are the basis for such inventory systems. These systems use mid range or long range readers, multiplexers, and customised antennas which are installed on cabinets and shelves for permanent inventory of the assets. Access to these shelves or cabinets is managed by an additional access control system which is also based on RFID.
Feig readers support ClearStream software
Feig Electronic continues its drive for straightforward RFID reader configuration and operation by announcing native support for Portable Technology Solutions’ (PTS) ClearStream RFID software, the user configurable fixed RFID software that can be set up in minutes to track assets and inventory tags. Now, Feig readers work out of the box with ClearStream’s updated version 4.1 software, allowing immediate use of fixed readers - from the simplest reader operations to flexible coverage for the most complex customised enterprise systems.
“PTS is expanding the portfolio of readers supported by ClearStream RFID, which recognises Feig’s growing role as a leading supplier of readers,” says Brad Horn, CEO and Co-Founder of PTS. “This is significant for us as it signals increasing use of the expanded portfolio of Feig HF and UHF readers which are available to the market.”
“RFID Canada, the Canadian distributor for Feig Electronic, has worked with ClearStream for years and has provided solutions for healthcare and asset management,” reports Bob Moroz, President of RFID Canada. “We focus on making RFID easy for customers to use, and the combination of Feig and ClearSteam makes implementing an RFID system simple and straightforward.” Since every Feig product utilises the common API, ClearStream is compatible with all Feig RFID readers.
The full RFID portfolio paves the way for future product applications as use cases continue to grow. ClearStream’s RFID software supports the Feig UHF RFID reader portfolio, including the LRU1002, LRU3000, LRU3500, MRU102, and MU02 units.
Greater patient safety and care
The aim of the system is to provide accurate patient identification, monitor patients status, and provide alerts at the point of care. Every patient in hospital wants to leave as soon as possible, so every patient has to receive the best possible care in the shortest possible amount of time. Using RFID for patient identification helps to provide the best possible care thanks to optimised processes. This begins with the 100 percent clear assignment of patient files to the corresponding patient as the basis for any treatment and ends with the arrangement of a perfect sequence of treatment steps for the patient. RFID monitored treatment steps flag up existing bottlenecks and show how the hospital can best make use of its own capacities to realise treatment which is both fast and secure.
Identification of medical equipment
An identification system allows users to easily comply with UDI, safety, and audit regulations, and to track medical equipment location, status, and utilisation. Just as you have to install an inventory management system for assets like medicine or blood bags, a management system for the identification of medical equipment like ventilators or beds is also necessary. To achieve perfect patient safety and care, you have to know which medical equipment is really ready for use and where it is – whether it is in use, out for maintenance, or in stock. Optimisation of logistical processes like bed logistics is another scenario which benefits from using RFID technology.
Secure monitoring of consumables
Handling consumables is part of the daily work of a hospital, including providing the right consumables and ensuring the rejection of reagents which have expired their shelf life. For the use of medical equipment like ventilators or other devices in the operation room, several hoses, lasers, or other consumables have to be connected. These consumables have to be clean and of the right size in order to prevent treatment errors. Each consumable is equipped with a tag which is read by an RFID reader which is installed in the medical device.
The reader identifies each consumable and sends an alert if an incorrect or already used consumable is connected. Reagents for automatic diagnostics are controlled in the same way: when the expiration date of a reagent approaches, the RFID-based system sends a message informing the staff of this, and once the expiration date has been reached the system will no longer automatically dispense the reagent.
Battery-less temperature monitoring
Passive battery-less RFID technology has led to adoption by a wide range of industries ranging from asset management and automation, to process and production control, to supply chain management. However, sensor data collection applications have traditionally always required battery power. Recently, RFMicron, a Texas-based technology company which developes smart passive sensors, has created a battery-free, single-chip RFID sensor IC to support temperature, pressure, and moisture sensing data capture solutions.
Feig’s UHF readers support the RFMicron Magnus S family of ICs for RFID tags. The new temperature- sensing chip features RFMicron’s patented Chameleon technology that enables a single-chip solution without the need for a battery, microcontroller, or wiring, which is ideal for lower cost, reduced maintenance applications. Working together, Feig UHF RFID readers and RFMicron temperature sensors enable an ideal RFID temperature monitoring solution for advanced wireless data capture applications in the emerging IoT. For example, in the healthcare industry, data can be captured and stored in the RFID tag memory and uploaded to online medical records. Similarly, automated, real-time temperature monitoring is suitable for improved cold supply chain management.
Sunnybrook Hospital relies on RFID in the OR
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, based in Toronto, Canada, uses RFID technology to safely identify patients, to avoid confusion, and to optimise management processes. In 2015, system integrator RFID Canada installed UHF long range readers from Feig Electronic in the adjacent areas and transitions of 19 operating rooms. There are two transponders attached to the cover of each patient's file for identification. The aim is to track the approximately 13,500 annual surgical patients on their way to surgical preparation, to the operating theater, to the recovery room, and subsequently back to the ward.
RFID makes it possible to locate patients in the operating room in real time – so numerous improvements to patient care are feasible. In addition, family members are quickly informed of the status of the operation without having to involve additional human resources.