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Unique Device Identifi cation

Making best use of unique device identifi cation

UDI is valuable when it provides actionable intelligence to deal with critical changes in device status.

By Mary Baum T

he job of today’s healthcare CIO has become a precarious balancing act. The CIO must provide technology that allows for accurate and timely exchange of patient information to physicians,

nurses and clinicians. At the same time, they must ensure that patient information is protected, and their facility’s medical equipment is tracked with the latest standards in unique device identifi cation (UDI).

Hospitals today rely on coordinated care and deserve the best possible outcomes with the signifi cant capital re- sources they’ve already made. Patients today receive care across teams, departments and disciplines. Unfortunately, cross-discipline teams are not intuitively collaborative, and their various communication methods do not share mean- ingful information in ways that routinely ensure better outcomes. Simply automating delivery practices is a proven

Mary Baum is chief healthcare offi cer at Connexall USA Inc. For more on

Connexall solutions:

exercise in futility when delivery systems are disparate silos and people work in separate departments, fl oors and systems. EMRs can somewhat improve delivery, but only if they sup- port integrated care and improved patient outcomes. Much talk about UDI has been centered on FDA require- ments, but this is somewhat misguided. Medical device packaging is already highly regulated, identifi able by serial number based on the 2007 mandate. Unfortunately, an ab- sence of UDI data for certain medical devices often leads to imprecise, ad hoc approaches in a hospital’s response to changes in device status, such as a product recall for a series of defective pacemakers, for example. Technologies such as barcodes, RFID and enterprise com- munication tools have contributed to a steady improvement in the management of medical device tracking. EMRs are a great fi rst step to collect information and capture data from information silos, but the real question may be: How can healthcare data, UDIs included, be made readily available – in the moment that it matters?

UDIs play a critical role in one of the primary goals 24 September 2011

for healthcare IT: bridging information silos, whether the information is needed at the bedside, in the hallway or el- evator, between units, on a crash team or in the ED. These few examples illustrate how leveraging UDIs can dramati- cally improve real-time decision support to deliver better outcomes: • Clinical safety – RFID technology is placed on the pa- tient’s body on the day of surgery. In the operating room, the tag is scanned and it becomes evident that this was a case of “wrong procedure/wrong patient.” The medical mistake is prevented in time.

Asset control – A facility is missing a $35,000 patient ventilator. The security team receives an automated alert on their phone including location and UDI code, and the guard closest to the correct exit is able to respond quickly and repossess the stolen equipment.

Facilities management/asset control – A pharmaceutical department loses power. The hospital’s facilities manager receives an alert in time to relocate – and effectively save – $400,000 worth of pharmaceutical inventory and supplies. Technology had been pre-set to route an alert if the coolers reached a specifi c temperature threshold. Whether a specifi c data stream includes a UDI code for a product recall, life-critical patient monitoring data on a nurse’s mobile phone or an RFID alert regarding missing equipment, the “best use” for any data are the scenarios in which that information is shared promptly with the proper decision makers who can act upon it. For the CIO, an IT standard, such as the EMR, may provide a unifi ed, standard platform to share this data, but it will need to be fully integrated to allow for intelligent routing – across people, departments and disciplines.

The hospital of the future will surely maximize the power of collaboration by selecting solutions that enable convergence. Communication technologies must be a cen- tral part of this solution. To better protect our patients and resources, all unique data must be shared in a meaningful way across the care continuum – especially in the moment it matters.


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