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INDUSTRY WATCH


RTLS saves blood in North Carolina TRACKING SYSTEMS


A tracking system that sig- nifi cantly aids in the successful


conservation of stored blood has been developed and put into use at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Launched at the hospital in August 2010, the technology employs proprietary real-time location sys- tem (RTLS) tags affi xed to the exteriors of portable coolers to track their location and elapsed time in use. The system was cre- ated at Wake Forest Baptist by Ron Noel, a resource-management manager, and Mary Rose Jones, blood bank manager. By tracking the location and elapsed time of coolers and electronically convey- ing that information to the appropriate personnel, RTLS allows staff members to retrieve coolers containing unused blood before a specifi ed time expires, which greatly reduces the possibility that unused blood may have to be destroyed. Blood must be kept chilled, typically between 1 and 6 degrees Celsius (33.8 to 42.8 degrees Fahrenheit), to be suitable for use in transfusions and other medical procedures. Any blood stored in a cooler beyond the spe- cifi c effective time span (generally between fi ve and 10 hours) is considered expired and must be destroyed, even if not used. “We use RTLS technology to track the location of


wheelchairs, beds and other mobile items,” says Noel. “We employed the RTLS system to track the coolers and added a timing function to alert the blood bank staff when the validated time is approaching.”


The tracking system’s software displays each cooler’s status on a computer monitor. When a cooler’s status changes, the system changes the color of that cooler’s screen icon and automatically sends an e-mail notice to designated addresses. “Since adopting the RTLS system last August, the results have been outstanding. We have not lost one cooler in the medical c


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la WAKE FOREST BAPTIST MEDICAL CENTER n


Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Ron Noel is the co-inventor of a proprietary system that uses RTLS tags to track the location and elapsed time in use of blood bank coolers.


center,” Jones says. “We also have reduced labor time – blood bank staff members no longer have to make multiple phone calls trying to locate coolers – and realized considerable dollar savings.”


A provisional application for a patent on the tracking system has been fi led with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Offi ce.


Noel and Jones are listed as the inventors; Wake Forest Baptist would be the holder of the patent. The Offi ce of Technology Asset Management (OTAM)


at Wake Forest Baptist is working with Noel to form a company, Time Temp Trac, that will market the system to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Wake Forest Baptist will have an equity share in the company.


CMS pushes private non-profi t health plans HEALTH PLANS INTERFACING


Centers for Medi- care & Medicaid


Services (CMS) is encouraging the creation of consumer operated and oriented plans (CO-OPs). A CO-OP is a private, non-profi t organization that sells health insurance coverage, similar to a health maintenance organization (HMO) or a preferred provider organization (PPO), and will be subject to the same rules as other health insurers. All profi ts are used to benefi t members by lowering premiums, for example, or improving health benefi ts.


CMS is proposing standards for CO-OPs and for qualify- ing for $3.8 billion in repayable loans to help start up and capitalize the new health plans. All CO-OP loans must be repaid with interest, and loans will only be made to private, non-profi t entities that demonstrate a high probability of becoming fi nancially viable. CO-OPs will sell coverage through a state’s affordable insurance exchange as well as have the opportunity to sell coverage to small businesses through a state’s small business


4 September 2011


health option programs (SHOP exchanges). According to CMS, several successful health insurance cooperatives cur- rently exist around the country, covering nearly 2 million individuals. A number of diverse groups are organizing to take advantage of this new opportunity. In one state, primary care providers are working to create a CO-OP to focus on care for rural areas. In another, a CO-OP steering committee has been formed by interested physicians, technology and business experts, and community groups. The CO-OP program provides for loans to private enti- ties with the goal to create a new CO-OP in every state to expand the number of exchange health plans with a focus on consumer accountability. The CO-OP program contains extensive provisions to protect against fraud, waste and abuse. Loan recipients are subject to strict monitoring, audits and reporting requirements for the length of the loan repayment period plus 10 years.


CMS will accept comments on the proposed rule until September 16, 2011.


HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY www.healthmgttech.com


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