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  • Editing Team 09:27 on March 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , medical drugs, ,   

    RFID & RTLS Help Hospitals to Ensure Patient Safety 

    Technologies like radio-frequency identification (RFID) and real-time locating systems (RTLS) are already transforming how some hospitals operate and they are going to play an even bigger role in the hospitals in the future, yet they are still underused in healthcare.

    In fact, beyond asset tracking and supply chain management, wireless technology can provide real-time data which can increase patient safety.

    The best way to put RFID and RTLS to work is with an integrated, enterprise-wide approach. That isn’t easy. But the Healthcare Symposium, which held early this month, showcased best practices for putting the proper building blocks in place and then reaping their rewards: capturing data, aggregating it, analyzing it and extracting knowledge to drive efficiencies and improve care.

    In the session, John Wass, CEO of Wavemark, Inc., showed just how important real-time information can spur better care delivery.

    A hospital is “almost like a war environment,” said Wass: periods of quiet punctuated by dramatic and often chaotic situations where “everything is going crazy.”

    In those situations, “real-time information is absolutely critical,” he said. One way of getting that information is via RFID — active or passive tags that can show whether a needed piece of equipment is there or not — and if it is nearby, where exactly it is. They can track critical medication, and tell whether it’s safe to administer or expired.

    Wireless technologies allow caregivers “to focus on the patient,” rather than on time-draining administrative tasks, said Wass. In emergency situation, they can offer clear directives, preventing nurses and physicians from overreacting to stress.

    In a “battle against time,” with “limited human resources,” he said, “automated or semi-automated data collection is critical to winning the battle.”

  • Editing Team 08:48 on October 13, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , medical drugs, ,   

    Ingestible RFID Digital Pills Get a Bright Future 

    ingestible-digital-pills-healthcare-medicine-device-RFID-blogUS Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first ingestible devices — some drugs embedding with digestible microchips to tell doctors whether a patient is taking their medications as prescribed. To some, this signifies the beginning of an era in digital medicine.

    “About half of all people don’t take medications like they’re supposed to,” says Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California. “This device could be a solution to that problem, so that doctors can know when to rev up a patient’s medication adherence.” Topol is not affiliated with the company that manufactures the device, Proteus Digital Health in Redwood City, California, but he embraces the sensor’s futuristic appeal, saying, “It’s like big brother watching you take your medicine.”

    The sand-particle-sized sensor is made up of a mini silicon chip containing small amounts of magnesium and copper. When it is swallowed, a slight voltage will be generated in response to digestive juices, conveying a signal to the surface of a person’s skin. A patch on the skin then relays the information to a healthcare-provider’s mobile phone.

    So far, the FDA and the analogous regulatory agency in Europe have only approved the device based on studies showing its safety and efficacy when implanted in placebo pills. Proteus hopes to have the device approved within other drugs in the near future. George Savage, co-founder and chief medical officer at the company, says medicines that must be taken for years — such as those for drug resistant tuberculosis, diabetes, and for the elderly with chronic diseases — are top candidates.

    “The point is not for doctors to castigate people, but to understand how people are responding to their treatments,” Savage says, “This way doctors can prescribe a different dose or a different medicine if they learn that it’s not being taken appropriately.”

    Some people think that digital medical devices will provide alternatives to doctor visits, blood tests, MRIs and CAT scans. There may be other gadgets, such as implantable devices that wirelessly inject drugs at pre-specified times, and sensors that deliver a person’s electrocardiogram to their smartphone.

    In his book The Creative Destruction of Medicine, published in January, Topol says that the 2010s will be known as the era of digital medical devices. “There are so many of these new technologies coming along,” Topol says, “it’s going to be a new frontier for rendering care.”

  • Editing Team 17:27 on July 31, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: medical drugs, ,   

    University of Maryland Medical Center Uses RFID Tags to Help Track Emergency Drugs 

    Maryland-medical-center-emergency-drugs-RFID-blogAt the University of Maryland Medical Center, trays containing life-saving drugs are now filled with RFID tags that ensure all the medications are there and have not expired.

    Maryland officials had been looking for ways to improve efficiency and safety, and they finally decided to deploy RFID tags in April.

    RFID technology is used frequently in the retail industry. Retailers use tags to track inventory because individual items can be quickly counted with scanners. Some hospitals use the tags or bar codes to track other gears such as wheelchairs and beds while some others use the technology to show when crash cart trays have been opened.

    While other hospitals have been focusing more on reducing human error, Maryland appears to be the first to use the high-tech tags to track all its emergency medications.

    So far, the tags appear to be suitable for use, said Maryland doctors and pharmacists. They are saving time for pharmacists, who are responsible for hundreds of crash cart trays.

    Before April, the pharmacist manually inspected each tray, noting which drugs needed replacing and which were close to expiration. They’d write the information down on paper. Then someone else would double check the work, which adds up to a 20-minute or so process.

    Now the manual work is replaced by a scanner. A tray is placed in the machine. Seconds later, a monitor will list what’s missing or dated. All backup inventories are also tagged, so that managers can constantly identify which drugs are in short supply, which saves a lot of time, said Adrianne Shepardson, manager of Maryland’s Central Pharmacy Services.

    “The average number of mistakes among hospitals is 2 in 1,000 and that’s more than we liked,” Shepardson said. “We’re trying to build a robust system so we have no mistakes.”

    Kevin MacDonald, who created the system along with partner Tim Kress-Spatz, saw a need for new technology in the pharmacy department of hospitals. The partners asked a dozen hospitals around the country if they could survey their trays and found almost 20 percent had expired items and eight percent had the wrong medications.

    “Hospitals are really trying to cut down on errors,” MacDonald said. “And they are looking to technology to help.”

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