Next Generation UHF RFID Specimen Tracking
Last year, after nearly two years of development, we brought RFID Specimen Tracking from concept to reality with our partners, Mayo Clinic. Since going live we've engaged with laboratories across the US and Europe to build our roadmap, and the response has been exciting - demand for this solution is stronger than we projected as every lab we speak to understands the flaws and risks inherent in current manual processes.
While developing RFID specimen tracking, we focused on a feature set that closely matched our initial customers' tactical requirements. In the same way Apple release a limited set of extremely high quality features with each new product, we strictly controlled our scope to ensure EasySpecimen was accurate and robust out of the gate.
Our product team couldn't sit still for long though. There's too much 'stuff' that is valuable to our customers and will directly improve patient care - to the point of saving lives. So here's what we can say so far about 2012:
HL7 Support - late in 2011 we added fully-featured HL7 support to deliver better integration at the point of collection with surgical information systems, and when accessioning into the lab with laboratory information systems. Robust, highly configurable data integration is key to eliminating transcription errors.
UHF Label Support - in Q1 2012 we added support for UHF label tags, which are far less expensive than the HF variety initially supported. They are also significantly more flexible so can be applied or embedded into a broader range of container types. In addition, UHF tags can be read in many different ways - pads, mobile readers, tables and even portals. While the physics of UHF are more challenging, we were confident that our RF engineering expertise would enable us to achieve accurate UHF results when coupled with new innovative counting algorithms in our software. The result means the per-sample cost of adoption and sustainment drops dramatically, and enables new efficiencies such as...
Single Step Container Setup - the team are now busy leveraging HL7 and UHF support to make container setup much more efficient for clinical teams. Previously, containers were first tagged with an expensive HF tag, and labeled again during the collection process with required human-readable information. The HF tag must be very close to the read surface at each read point, so typically is installed on the underside of a container and therefore is not suitable for displaying human readable information.
With HL7 and UHF support, EasySpecimen will dynamically take patient/sample/test data via its HL7 interface from a surgical information system, encode a UHF label on demand, and print the required human readable information on the same label - all in one simple step. EasySpecimen then associates the label's electronic product code (EPC) to the sample data held in the EasySpecimen database, and locates the sample to the point of collection.
All this with a single press of a button, ensuring the clinicians' workflow is not impacted negatively when adopting the technology.
Aggregation and Analytics - I mentioned that EasySpecimen is focused on solving the transactional nature of specimen handling and processing. Later this year our team will release a strategic analysis portal based on our existing IAM (Intelligent Asset Management) asset visibility platform, which will aggregate specimen handling data and enable broader analysis and workflow.
Customers will be able to analyze specimen processing metrics across collection points and delivery routes, evaluating where and why delays or errors occur and react accordingly. IAM provides rule-based alerts to warn lab teams when samples are collected but not delivered to the lab within a given time period, or alert users when samples are separated, seen at incorrect locations, or breach time limits for delivery between points. The possibilities are very real, and very important to patient care.
Lastly - well, I could continue...and we will do more. For example, with IAM in place we will be able to deliver tablet support with a new breed of mobile bluetooth reader no bigger than a pen, which we are currently developing for other clinical asset visibility use cases. Using smart RFID-enabled mobile devices such as tablets to securely identify and location clinical assets is an area we are working on as I write this blog.
There is much to do - stay tuned!
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