Located in the Flushing section of New York City, the acute-care facility New York Hospital Queens is piloting radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to help improve the inventory management of its medical devices and consumables, including stents, catheters and filters used within its interventional radiology unit.
The RFID solution is provided by LogiTag Systems. When staff members remove implants or other necessary items from a locked cabinet, it will automatically create a digital record of which items have been removed and by whom. What’s more, the system allows the hospital to maintain a record of which items were actually used during a particular procedure, using bar-code scans.
Founded in 2004 in Netanya, Israel, LogiTag aims at offering RFID solutions for a variety of markets including an active RFID real-time location system for hospitals. Its technology is installed at every medical center in Israel.
New York Hospital Queens has deployed LogiTag’s Smart Cabinet and StockBox solutions, both incorporating RFID technology compliant with the ISO 15693 standard for 13.56 MHz passive RFID tags. The Smart Cabinet is intended for tracking such high-value and time-sensitive items as implants which are used during surgical procedures. It has a built-in RFID reader designed and manufactured by LogiTag to capture the time when products enter and leave its shelves, as well as provide access to authorized employees. The StockBox is intended for consumables such as surgical supplies that are used only once. An RFID tag is placed within an RFID-enabled box when a predetermined amount of product is consumed, so that it can trigger the recording of that item from the warehouse or stockroom.
When products destined for the interventional radiology unit are received at the hospital, employees attach a passive high-frequency (HF) RFID tag to each item. They then utilize a bar-code scanner to read the product’s serial number and link that information to the RFID number, as well as the product’s make, model, size and expiration date, all of which are then stored in the LogiTag software, residing on the hospital’s back-end system.
The Smart Cabinet is a locked receptacle with five shelves, storing up to 350 implantable devices and other medical items. If a particular item is required, the employee must first present an employee badge which has a built-in RFID tag. The Smart Cabinet’s RFID reader captures the tag’s unique identifier and uses the LogiTag software to determine whether that employee is authorized to access that particular cabinet. If access is approved, the software will give instructions to release the lock. At the same time, it’ll automatically store the ID number of the employee.
Multiple items may often be removed, though they may not all be used. For example, during a procedure, several sizes of an implant would need to be on hand to be used as needed. The unused items would then need to be returned. Traditionally they are recorded by having a staff member manually write down the items’ ID numbers or scan bar codes. Now, with Smart Cabinet, it’ll automatically sends data to the back-end system indicating what has been removed, according to the tag ID numbers no longer being read, and by whom, based on that individual’s ID badge read.
Once the surgery has concluded, the worker can return the unused items back to the Smart Cabinet by scanning his or her ID badge, so that the system can automatically indicate that those products were unused. Those used items’ packaging is saved and placed in a bin, which is then moved to a bar-code scanner plugged into a PC. Employees then simply need to access the LogiTag software, click on the record of a specific patient who has undergone a procedure, and then scan the packaging’s bar codes to update the system as to what was used.
At the end of the day, the LogiTag software provides a report that informs management of items that were removed and returned to the cabinet, and by whom, as well as which were supplied to a patient or may be missing, in this way greatly reducing the risk of losing or discarding high-value medical products.
The Smart Cabinet and StockBox have enabled New York Hospital Queens to reduce excess inventory, though it will take at least six months to determine the extent of that reduction. The system provides the added benefit of being able to automatically detect when an item is nearing its expiration date, so that the hospital can more easily ensure that inventory is not overlooked, thus reducing the likelihood of products expiring prior to use.