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Ask the RFID Expert: Medical Device Lifecycle Management

Can RFID help hospitals and practices manage device lifecycles?

Absolutely. A professionally deployed RFID system can automate a significant number of tasks related to medical device lifecycle management, improving end-of-life recordkeeping accuracy and helping to ensure patient safety.

All medical device PLM requirements are based on some kind of benchmark data – time, number of uses, number of sterilization cycles undergone, etc. This makes PLM an ideal application for RFID systems. The device can be quickly and uniquely identified with the reader. Then data stored on the tag, or stored in a database linked to the number in the tag, can be accessed with a handheld or fixed reader. This allows the reader to deliver critical details to users. Thin information can be used for preventive maintenance, field updates/retrofits, product recalls or end-of-life/retirement purposes.

Take, for instance, the end effectors detailed in this Vizinex case study. Their effective life is tied to the number of autoclave cycles and “patient touches” they’ve seen; at a certain point, they must be retired from service. Before that point, users must be notified of the impending sunset so they can ensure an uninterrupted supply of devices. “Patient touch” events are logged into the tag by the host machine. Uses are logged each time the device is issued from inventory. If the device is not used (that is, it does not interact with the patient), it must still be sterilized before returning to inventory, and this event is tracked with data added to the RFID tag’s memory.

Without RFID (and the automated logging of events that it enables), a task like this would need to be handled manually. This is inefficient and error-prone, driving higher costs or, in the worst case, compromising patient safety.

There are many ways that RFID can be deployed to aid in life cycle management for medical devices. In addition, adding RFID tags to devices can ease and speed the implementation of FDA-mandated UID requirements that now confront medical device suppliers.

Talk to Vizinex about how we can help you use RFID to automate processes and improve PLM and traceability for your medical device.

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