RFID Traceability for Healthcare
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RFID Technology reduces logistics demands dramatically

01/09/2015 - Worldwide projects and investigations of Fresenius Kabi demonstrate the benefits of RFID technology, especially for the logistics of blood bags. RFID makes blood donations not only safe, but also efficient! RFID replaces around 15 individual scans and saves valuable time in all processes -from donation, through to processing and storage.

Around 4.5 million blood bags and packed red blood cells are processed annually in Germany. Using RFID for identification in the logistics process, more than 100 million scans can be saved! There is an enormous potential for optimisation for blood donor services by using this technology, as Dr. Armin Reidel, Fresenius Kabi, explains.The technical requirements have been addressed by Fresenius Kabi and its partner Biolog-id in large-scale projects in Mexican hospitals and Italian blood banks, which are already showing benefits in practice.

Dr. Armin Reidel, Director Disposable Kits Fresenius Kabi, Division Medical Devices - Business Unit Whole Blood Technology, Fresenius Kabi Germany, in interview with ‘RFID im Blick’.

RFID on blood bags - used worldwide in blood donor services, blood productions and hospitals

The company Biolog-id that works in close cooperation with Fresenius Kabi on RFID solutions for Blood Bag Tracking since 2012, is one of the pioneers in the industry and has already implemented numerous projects worldwide.

France: The French Blood Transfusion Service (Etablissement Français du Sang/EFS) produces and delivers some 3,000,000 bags every year. Biolog-id’s solution ensures since 2015 that every unit can be tracked automatically from preparation centre through to fractionation by LFB, a manufacturer of plasma-derived medicinal products. One of the Benefits: The RFID sorting line at LFB enables bags tto be registered and tracked individually once they have been scanned.

Mexico: A large-scale field test since 2013 in Mexican hospitals has clearly shown the benefits of RFID technology. Throughout Mexico, hospitals’ cold storage facilities are to be equipped with RFID technology by Biolog-id to optimize the storage of blood products. For example the solution enables the state’s blood bank system to manage the locations of its blood bags. The nationwide use of RFID in mexican hospitals is planned.

RFID makes blood donations not only safe, but also efficient! RFID replaces around 15 individual scans and saves valuable time in all processes - from donation, through to processing and storage.

“Blood donor services and hospitals can minimise rejections of blood bags down to a 2-digit number range, exclude mix-ups, and benefit from a drastic reduction in the immense logistics effort,” Dr. Armin Reidel is convinced. He is in charge of the disposable products in ‘whole blood technology’ business unit in the global operating health care company, which provides medicines and medical devices for infusion, transfusion, and clinical nutrition.

A single transponder to make 15 individual scans unnecessary

Investigations of Fresenius Kabi show that blood donor services usually need 30 single scans to document the donation, processing, and storage of a blood donor product. Each process step requires new barcodes to be printed and adhered. An RFID tag can save the need for up to 15 scans during the handling process of a blood bag system. ”These figures illustrate labour savings when applying automatic registration in logistic processes,” says Dr. Reidel. “A blood bag with an attached RFID transponder can be tracked during its entire handling process.”

Safe and consistently -from donor to cold storage

“Today, we can safely monitor the logistics process from start to finish with RFID systems,” explains Dr. Reidel. Starting at reception, where complete donation trays supplied by field staff are registered in bulk by tunnel readers, “smart” refrigerators that can handle chaotic storage conditions and optimally utilise the capacities, through to software for temperature monitoring, and reusable temperature loggers for transport containers, which can be linked to the system with the blood product by RFID.

Stable temperature from minus 30 to plus 100 degrees

The technological requirements for the use of RFID already exist, says the expert: “We are in close contact with our technology partner Biolog-id and test the products in the laboratory. The results show that at temperatures over 100 degrees, such as during steam pressure sterilisation, the tags show little to no reaction. Here, the error rate is close to zero. Frozen storage of red blood reserves at plus two to six degrees Celsius is just as trouble-free as the freezing of plasma at minus 25 to 30 degrees Celsius. Improvements have also been achieved during centrifugation, in which so far the crucial issue has been the stability of the chip antenna connection.”

Pioneer Italy: Benefits from RFID will prevail

RFID technology is ready for everyday use. That is what worldwide projects have shown. Clinics in Italy already use the technology in their cooling chambers. Even the logistical benefits for blood donor services have been demonstrated, important for 200 to 300 blood banks directly connected to hospitals in Italy. “We are already very active in this market and will supply around one million tags and pieces of equipment
by the end of the year,” explains Dr. Reidel. In Luxembourg and Switzerland, pilot projects are implemented. “If the benefits – outside of the cold chain – are seen in logistics, RFID will definitely prevail in blood donor services in Germany,” Dr. Reidel is convinced: “The requests are very concrete, and a pilot study with a large blood transfusion service is already being planned.”

September 2015 | RFID im Blick

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