Dutch RFID project in health care completed

Utrecht 15 March 2007The University Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam, Capgemini, Geodan, Intel and Oracle have successfully completed their joint project "RFID in Health Care". Between September 2005 and January 2007, the project partners in different pilots have been testing the usability of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) within a hospital environment. In this research it has become clear that RFID in health care can constitute an added value for patient safety, and efficiency and transparency in logistics. The project has been carried out by order of the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports and has been co-supported financially by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.

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The project aims were pretty ambitious: RFID implementation has been tested in three domains - personal, material and blood products - within the complex and high-technological environment of an OR-complex, intensive care unit and blood transfusion laboratory at the AMC in Amsterdam. All three pilots eventually have provided valuable insights.

The project has demonstrated that patients are benefiting from a good use of the technology. By supplying health providers as well as patients with active RFID-tags, their mobility throughout the hospital can be followed. This leads to a more efficient and better registration and extra check-ups in case of surgery, and offers additional opportunities for process enhancements within the operating room. By means of the RFID data, it is possible, for instance, to handle the number of person movements more adequately. This effort to provide more efficiency reduces the chance of spreading viruses, so the risc of wound contamination for patients is being limited.

The project has also successfully shown that RFID is very suitable to follow up the stream of materials involved in a surgery session. In this way, insight can be gained in the use of materials in a random surgery such that the logistical process can be enhanced. The process in fact constitutes a plea for the application of RFID in the logistic chain of medical materials.

In a third pilot, the usability of RFID for tracking blood products has been investigated. In the European regulatory framework, it is necessary to track the blood and blood elements from donor to acceptor and vice versa. Temperature sensitive, active tags provided a solution; they enable a continuous control of the product throughout the entire chain, from the transfusion lab to the administration process. After use in the operating room or intensive care unit, it is also possible to check which blood samples have been used with all the positive outcomes for the transfusion registration one can imagine.

In summary, RFID in Health Care has proven to be a groundbreaking project. The participants have been able to show that the technology, if carefully applied, can be of great value in the domain of transparence, patient safety and efficiency.


Leslie Versweyveld

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