It’s safe to say that the staff in any reputable laboratory or hospital knows what lab samples they have in-house, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they know precisely where they can be found at all times. Keeping track of where samples are located is key to safe handling and efficient service.
This is one of the main reasons that RFID technology in healthcare has gained traction for tracking and verification. With the latest advances in hardware and software, RFID is the best available technology to ensure accurate, real-time traceability of lab samples and drugs, while also protecting patient data and brand authentication.
Tracking Samples in the Real World
For Aegis Sciences Corporation, a full-service forensic toxicology and healthcare sciences laboratory, RFID enabled substantial improvements over the lab’s previous inventory management system: barcodes. Although laboratory staff maintained a very high level of accuracy in specimen tracking, the exact location and status of each item was not known at any given time without physically locating the sample cup or tube.
As a lab that handles thousands of samples, the need to physically locate a sample in order to provide a status update was a time-consuming and inefficient process. Additionally, if management wanted to calculate utilization metrics for a specific instrument, technicians had to follow an extra step to keep records of each sample run on that instrument for a pre-determined time period.
With real-time tracking and automated data collection made possible by RFID, Aegis was able to achieve greater accuracy, visibility and productivity. However, it was important that the new inventory management system not disrupt or alter current procedures and protocols.
Custom Solution For Lab Samples
In order to meet the lab’s needs, a system was designed based on the MSM Solutions cloud-based software PortalTrack and Zebra’s line of RFID printers. Now Aegis uses RFID tags that still contain a barcode printed on them, allowing both the barcode and the RFID tag to be used for sample identification purposes with real-time information management.
The PortalTrack RFID inventory tracking software tracks and records each sample as it moves through the lab, offering a user-friendly dashboard to inform the exact location of each sample. Integration of the PortalTrack software with the lab’s Oracle database allows the entire organization to view a “snapshot” of data on the status of samples as well as instrument usage metrics.