Debbie Greenway, Executive Vice President of FEIG Electronics Inc., a leading manufacturer of high-quality RFID reader and antenna systems, and Caryn Mills, Medical Device Sales Director at HID, one of the world’s leading RFID tag manufacturers and solution enablers, have found themselves in a mutually beneficial partnership, providing cutting-edge RFID solutions jointly to a variety of industries. Today, they come together to discuss the uses and benefits of their RFID solutions in the healthcare industry.
FEIG and HID’s RFID solutions can be used in a multitude of ways within the healthcare industry.
Debbie lists patient identification, inventory, supply chain management, medical equipment sterilization tracking, medical device calibration, and UDI compliance. In addition to lifetime of devices, blood samples, and pharmaceutical tracking. Along with something she calls “nothing left behind”. ”There’s been a long history of items, primarily sponges, being left in the human body after surgery. RFID is now being used to identify if there are items left in the surgical cavity before being closed.”
“Hospitals also use RFID to track patients, some using RFID wristbands, some putting RFID on the charts and some putting RFID on the beds and tracking patients throughout the hospital. If you do that, you can also track, for example, what the dwell times are in certain areas. We’ve had many companies come back and say, ‘We didn’t know we had this many empty ORs, and this much of a wait time.’ You can do a lot more with RFID than just a single-use in a facility.
“There’s a lot of recent technology in not only autoclaving but gamma sterilization. HID offers tags that withstand harsh environments or temperatures, including tags that can go through cryogenic temperatures while tracking.”
Caryn adds, “We also offer technologies for temperature monitoring or tracking medical devices that are implanted in the body.”
There are just as many benefits as there are uses for RFID in the medical space. The wider the use of RFID throughout the entire hospital or facility, the greater its benefits.
There are unexpected benefits that come out of using RFID technology in healthcare settings related to collecting data and evaluating processes. Users often report side benefits of further understanding their data and in turn, being able to easily rearrange their processes to increase efficiency and therefore, satisfaction.
“With RFID, the ROI argument becomes easier,” Debbie explains. “For example, disposable devices like tubes, hoses, or scalpels, are a significant source of ongoing revenue. Tracking with RFID, these disposable devices are now easy to quantify.”
Other quantifiable items in a medical setting include medical uniforms or scrubs. Scrubs are typically cleaned off site by a third party and then returned to the hospital. There is an opportunity for a third party to claim missing items in such a case. Without tracking, there is no way to prove otherwise. Debbie states, “That can get expensive, but can be eliminated with RFID, as many hospitals are doing now. An RFID tag, which looks like a button, is added inside the scrub. When personnel checks out a scrub with an ID badge, the facility is able to track who has the item and whether or not it was returned.”
Caryn also sees many benefits not only in the hospital setting with things like overall inventory management of devices or consumables, tracking lifecycles, or counting sterilizations, but also within the devices and manufacturing processes themselves, including everything from asset tracking, inventory management, and distribution, to supply chain.
“Where we feel the biggest advantage of using RFID in medical devices is in authentication, brand identification, and anti-counterfeiting.” she points out, “One of the biggest advantages is unique device identification. Medical devices with barcodes, laser etching, or QR codes could fade or be thrown away with the packaging. By incorporating RFID into your medical device, you’re never losing sight of that unique device identifier because you can marry that UDI number with the unique identification of each tag into your software system.”
Advantages can also be seen along the manufacturing line for quality control.
“You can identify how the manufacturing equipment is running and which employee was working on particular lot numbers at any given day or time,” Caryn explains. “In the case of a recall, problem, or quality issue, you can track back to the beginning extremely accurately and quickly.”The benefits and capabilities of RFID in the healthcare industry are vast and continuing to see new innovation. This episode has only scratched the surface of applications and use cases! To learn more about the partnership between FEIG Electronics Inc. and HID and the ways in which it benefits the healthcare industry, check out “Debbie Greenway & Caryn Mills on the FEIG Electronics Inc. & HID Partnership” or listen to “HID & FEIG; A Great Partnership!” at RFID READER NEWS BY FEIG.
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