Blood Tracking Solutions: The Future of Healthcare

Blood transfusions are a routine part of hospital work. Yet, in hospitals using manual systems, it’s a process riddled with the potential for error – from a lab worker accidentally mislabeling a unit of blood, to the unit having to be discarded because the nurse has been held up en route from lab to ward.

Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes aren’t discovered until the unit is at the patient’s bedside and transfusion has begun, risking the patient suffering from an adverse reaction. In 2014, 764 serious adverse events and 346 serious adverse reactions were reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), in the UK alone.

Additionally, blood collection is time-consuming. Lab workers start by selecting a unit from the computer system and fetching the unit from stock. Next, they print out the correct label, call the ward, and wait to place the unit into the hands of the porter or nurse. Once a call is received in the ward from the lab, a nurse or porter is notified to go to the lab, sign for the unit manually, and then head back to the ward without delay. This ensures the transfusion is carried out in line with cold chain rules. When this same process is repeated from start to finish, hundreds of times a year, the hours spent in retrieving and carrying the blood unit add up to a significant portion of working hours.

While this process might work, ultimately, it doesn’t have to be like that.

Eliminating errors through automation

Automated blood tracking solutions can slash error rates to near-zero, while simultaneously creating huge time savings.

This automated solution creates robust workflows for your teams to follow with safety checks built in every step of the way, ensuring that your patients receive the best possible care. Now, when the lab worker selects a unit of blood, that unit is given a unique identifier assigned to a particular patient. Each patient receives a different identifier, ensuring that each unit receives its rightful patient. After the unit is selected, the lab worker prints and attaches a compatibility label, which includes the patient’s name and demographic details. Then the worker takes the unit to a secure, public-facing fridge, oftentimes found in a corridor.

blood-tracking-scanner

The picture above shows how easily blood samples can be tracked using a barcode and scanner.

When the lab worker places the unit in the fridge, he or she use a mobile computer or scanner to scan the unit and the compatibility label, ensuring both are labeled correctly and accurately. Once the unit is in place, an electronic message is automatically sent, via barcode, to the ward nurse on his or her mobile device. The nurse then clicks to accept the job, goes to the fridge, and uses the barcode scanner to scan the barcode in the text message.

This unlocks the fridge automatically, while alerting the nurse where the unit of blood can be found in the fridge. The nurse then scans the unit to confirm collection, and the cold chain rules kick in. Now, if there’s a breach and the blood isn’t used within the appropriate time limit, the lab is automatically alerted.

Back on the ward, the senior nurse records a receipt using a computer on wheels. The final step is to scan both the patient’s wristband and the unit of blood: if the match is incorrect, an alert sounds so the process can be stopped. If everything is deemed okay, the transfusion can begin.

This automated solution makes absolutely sure that the blood unit being collected for each patient is the correct one. It also guarantees that only authorized personnel have access to the fridge.

Paperless, efficient and safe

While you can’t guarantee that staff will never make a mistake, this robust, automated blood tracking system makes it much harder for an error to slip through the cracks.

Furthermore, the time previously spent making phone calls, walking to and from the lab, and manually filling in labels is saved by using one seamless, paperless process that makes a blood unit’s journey from the lab to the ward as smooth as possible.

One final benefit that this automated solution offers is that it creates a complete audit trail. Each step of the unit’s journey is logged automatically, thus staff and management know who labelled and stored a particular unit, and who collected it and when they did so. Regulatory inspections become almost hassle-free; all the data you need is catalogued, saved, and searchable, so staff no longer have to wade through boxes of paper.

It’s not often that a solution can make dramatic improvements in patient safety, while improving productivity and reducing costs. Blood tracking is one example of an automated solution that does just that and hospitals typically see a return on investment within nine months. After the initial nine months, this system pays for itself many times over.

RFID Technology: The Future of Retail

ATTENTION ALL RETAILERS: We know what you’re probably thinking…. What the heck is RFID anyway? If you’re new to retail, or haven’t heard of RFID, let’s start off by reminding you what RFID is all about. RFID stands for radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. This technology uses a method of identifying items through radio waves. The RFID device works much like a barcode and scanner, except it is far more efficient and cost-effective! The technology utilizes a reader and tag that work simultaneously allowing for optimal service at the quickest pace.

RFID technology isn’t a new concept either. It has been around for nearly seventy-six years and has experienced significant advances in the past decade, and most particularly in recent years. These advances include a lower cost of ownership, improved reader form factors, greater global standardization, and innovations in passive ultra-high frequency (UHF) tags, which are all furthering RFID interest and adoption.

While all of these advancements are great, the single-most convincing argument for implementation of RFID devices in retail stores, can be found in the proven return on investment (ROI) that item-level tagging provides throughout the entire supply chain process. If you haven’t had a chance to look at the many benefits of RFID technology recently, consider these five great reasons why you should implement RFID in all of your retail stores:

  • Increased Inventory Accuracy. Studies have shown RFID technology offers the best solution to track merchandise for stocking and marketing purposes.
  • Reduced Inventory Management Labor. Both apparel and footwear retailers utilizing RFID in their stores have reported inventory labor reductions of 75 to 92 percent. In tests prior to the introduction of RFID technology, only 200 items per hour were counted using a manual process. Following the introduction of RFID technology, 5,000 items per hour were counted.
  • Reduced Inventory Carrying Costs. With RFID technology, retailers have been able to sustain leaner inventory levels, while reducing associated carrying costs more than ever before.
  • Improved Sales. Item-level RFID has shown an increased sale of items per transaction because the technology is fast and is cost-effective.
  • Protection Against Theft. We all know that shoplifting occurs more regularly than we would like to admit in retail. It’s been estimated that shoplifting alone costed U.S. retailers $32 billion last year. By using RFID to support electronic article surveillance (EAS), retailers are notified in real time when items are being stolen.

Almost all of the benefits listed above apply directly to a retailer’s in-store operations, yet, in today’s fast-paced world, retailers understand now more than ever, that being able to distribute items and fulfill orders from inventory located in any part of the supply chain is more efficient, more cost-effective, and more likely to result in greater satisfaction and an enhanced customer experience. Furthermore, nearly all retailers agree that the key to accurate inventory management is technology, most notably RFID.

Throughout the entire the supply chain, RFID technology allows retailers to maximize their inventory control and maintain flexibility from initial manufacturer orders through direct-to-customer shipping. Today’s RFID devices help increase the level of productivity in every retail store, by operating as both a sales channel and a fulfillment center. Additionally, this device helps enhance customer satisfaction and ultimately, improve end-to-end supply chain ROI.

This system of technology works and we are confident that its level of usage will only continue to grow in the future! If you have any further questions regarding RFID placement in retail stores, please do not hesitate to visit us at: https://www.informsinc.com/.