RFID consortium to bring blood product tracking technology to market

The Transfusion Medicine RFID Consortium, which seeks to improve safety and reduce costs in the blood supply chain through use of radio-frequency identification technology, announced Friday that Beaverton, Ore.-based S3Edge has been tapped to commercialize a new RFID and barcode-based blood product tracking technology.

Designed and built under a private, academic and public initiative funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Blood Product Tracking suite consists of mobile, desktop and server software applications that offer greater visibility to the physical movement of blood products, while improving the efficiency of blood center operations, officials say.

The RFID consortium includes BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Carter Bloodcare, Mississippi Blood Services, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Mississippi Baptist Health System, University of Wisconsin Madison – RFID Laboratory, Lenexa, Kan.-based Mediware Corp, Brookfield, Wis.-based SysLogic and S3Edge.

The suite of applications has been deployed in a production pilot at the BloodCenter of Wisconsin and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) with promising results, officials say.

"Thanks to the outstanding work of the entire consortium team, we have successfully piloted the new system to track blood products as they move from fixed and mobile donation sites, through the blood center and to distribution," said Lynne Briggs, vice president and CIO for BloodCenter of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. "After 24 weeks of running the system in a pilot mode here at the BloodCenter of Wisconsin, we have seen process efficiency and traceability gains, as well as marked improvements in reconciliation."

The hospital transfusion services tracking module was piloted at the DeGowin Blood Center at UIHC, where it was run in parallel with IPR, an internally developed barcode-based tracking system.

"The RFID system provided equivalent capabilities to those of IPR in terms of detecting and resolving process errors," said Thomas J. Raife, MD, Clinical Professor & Medical Director at UIHC DeGowin Blood Center. "It additionally provided the blood bank staff real-time visibility for blood products in transit from the hospital blood bank to the point-of-care and in remote storage in our emergency department."

The initiative to introduce RFID technology in transfusion medicine is a showcase of how groundbreaking technologies can be effectively designed, developed and commercialized via private-academic-public initiatives for the healthcare industry, officials say.

"This effort represents the culmination of years of hard work by the consortium members in bringing a much needed innovation to the market in a collaborative manner," said Rodeina Davis, who was the principal investigator for the STTR grant. "We are pleased to see S3Edge taking the next steps to ensure that the cumulative efforts of the consortium benefit the transfusion medicine industry as a whole."