in RFID News on Oct 25, 2016. 0 Comments
Oct 24, 2016—Orthopedic implant company Medacta USA is piloting an RFID-enabled solution to track its loaner kits when they are provided to hospitals. Each kit comes in the form of a case filled with Medacta USA implant products. The system, supplied by inventory-management technology firm Terso Solutions, allows Medacta USA to receive daily updates regarding which products are inside each case, as well as each time the case is opened. In this way, users can view which implants remain in a particular kit, and where that case is located. That information is intended to help the company prevent errors, investigate losses and, if Medacta USA adopts the system permanently, automate the billing process.
Since Medacta USA began testing the technology, says Shawn McIntyre, the company's director of operations, it has been able to more accurately and efficiently replenish kits with replacement items—even when cases are still in the field—since Medacta USA now knows which items were removed from the kit and not returned. It also knows when and where those actions occurred.
Headquartered in Chicago, Medacta USA is the U.S. division of Medacta International, a manufacturer of orthopedic implants, as well as neuro-surgical systems and instrumentation. The company ships its kits—each filled with implants for a specific type of surgery, such as a hip replacement—to hospitals prior to patient procedures. A Medacta USA sales representative is present during such surgeries, to provide surgeons and hospital personnel with technical assistance.
Traditionally, as products are removed from the kit, the sales representative manually records those actions, after which Medacta USA bills the hospital accordingly. However, implant products can end up missing, and are sometimes lost by a carrier in transit, delivered to the wrong facility or misplaced at the hospital. What's more, the act of replenishing a kit can be inefficient, since the company may not know which items need to be restocked until that kit arrives back at its warehouse. Medacta USA began working with Terso this year, McIntyre says, to test how well RFID technology could make these processes more visible.
Terso Solutions' RFID Mobile Case Automated Inventory Management Solution consists of Terso's Mobile Case, comprising a Pelican hard-sided carrying case with a built-in Impinj RS500 RFID reader, a 4G cellular radio and a microprocessor to store read data and forward that information to Terso's Jetstream cloud-based software. Terso developed the technology in 2014 and 2015 so that businesses that send kits of high-value medical devices to hospitals could gain visibility into those kits' locations and contents (see Terso Makes a Case for Mobile Tracking of Medical Devices).
Medacta USA began testing the technology on two of its implant kits approximately two months ago, and intends to continue testing throughout the remainder of this year. If the technology continues to work well, McIntyre says, his company may opt to incorporate the RFID technology into all of the loaner kits it provides to health-care organizations for use during surgery. To date, he notes, the solution seems to be helping his firm determine what is in each case and where it is located at any given time, and thereby identify which products may need to be replenished—and, in the event that an item ends up missing, when and where it may have been removed from the case.
"One thing [our customers] didn't have was full exposure of the status of each kit," says John Kuehl, Terso's hardware product manager. Companies like Medacta USA often need to replenish a kit quickly, he explains, either at the implant firm's distribution center (when returned by a customer), or in the field (while at a hospital or in the hands of a sales rep)...
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