Using RFID technology to track hemophilia drugs

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Specialty pharmacy US Bioservices and MedImpact Healthcare Systems are piloting a home inventory management program using RFID technology to monitor the use of drugs at home by haemophiliacs. Hemophilia is a genetic disorder that impairs the body’s ability to form blood clots. The system, which consists of passive cooling devices that support RFID, can track in real time which drugs are being stored and which are being used, with the aim of preventing drug backlogs or expiration while helping health-care providers understand and manage each patient’s situation. The technology is provided by AmerisourceBergen, the parent company of U.S. biological services.

Hemophiliacs generally live a normal, healthy life, but they need medication, either as a preventive measure or when an injury that could lead to bleeding occurs. Often, they need to store the drugs because they are used in an emergency. Hemophilia medicines are expensive and have a specific shelf life. Kevin James, vice President of bioservices, said the drugs also need to be refrigerated to be effective, so it’s important to know their status. But tracking them is hard to do, and patients often store their medications in the refrigerator at home, leaving them behind and causing them to expire.

The pilot program, in which patients use AmerisourceBergen myCubixx refrigerator and cloud-based software to collect and manage RFID-based data from coolers, is accessible to US Bioservices and MedImpact, as well as patients and healthcare providers. About a dozen patients in the trial will install refrigerators in their homes. It comes with a built-in computer, an amazing M6e RFID reader module and antenna that can be inserted into standard wall units.

Each drug offered to patients in the pilot service is accompanied by an UHF RFID tag with a unique ID number encoded on the label. Passive UHF RFID tags are installed in a specialty pharmacy at bioservice America. This unique ID is stored in the US Bioservices software, which is associated with the details of the drug, including the number and expiration date of the drug, and any temperature storage requirements.

The system is designed to enable US Bioservices and MedImpact to determine when patients need a drug supplement. Analysis from the data can also determine whether a patient has more drugs on hand than he or she needs – for example, if a patient USES drugs at a lower rate than expected.

The pilot, which began in July, will last at least six months before it is evaluated, James said. Participants will evaluate the return on investment (ROI) provided by the system, based on whether the risk of drug expiry or overstocking is reduced.

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