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Private-public collaboration will enhance patient safety during blood collection and transfusion

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), Health and Human Services, has awarded a $1.4 million Small Business Technology Transfer grant to SysLogic Inc., the UW RFID Laboratory and the BloodCenter of Wisconsin. The grant will fund the second phase of a project to determine how radio frequency identification (RFID) technology can be used to enhance patient safety when collecting, manufacturing and transfusing blood products.

This collaborative private-public initiative represents the first-ever research into the potential clinical and financial benefits of RFID technology for automatic identification, tracking, and status-monitoring of blood and blood products across the entire transfusion medicine supply chain, from the point of collection to the delivery of a product by a healthcare provider to a patient.

RFID is an automatic identification method that relies on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags. RFID tags contain silicon chips and antennas that enable them to receive and respond to radio-frequency queries from RFID transceivers.

The project aims to enhance the safety, quality, productivity and responsiveness of the nation’s blood supply through research, development and transfer of RFID technology. The targeted result will reduce production costs and blood transfusion errors by increasing efficiency and accuracy in material handling of blood.

SysLogic, the RFID Lab and the BloodCenter previously received a $100,000 Phase I award from NIH for research into the technical feasibility and impact assessment of using RFID in the blood supply chain. Data from the Phase I research project, published earlier this month in the Journal of Healthcare Information Management, demonstrated that RFID-enabled processes offer the potential for tangible improvements to productivity and safety, including reductions in morbidity and mortality among hospital-based patients receiving blood transfusions. The Phase II grant will fund the development and testing of a prototype, which will demonstrate the functionality and test the limits of the RFID solution in a realistic, yet safe and secure, environment.

“This NIH-funded project serves as a wonderful example of private-public partnership in order to bring new and innovative solutions to the marketplace. The BloodCenter of Wisconsin and UW-Madison’s RFID Lab are internationally-recognized leaders,” says Tina Chang, CEO of SysLogic, a Brookfield, Wisconsin-based information systems consulting and services firm dedicated to helping clients conduct business more effectively by delivering proven and emerging process and technology solutions.

“SysLogic is excited to collaborate with this team of distinguished researchers, technologists and health care stakeholders who are dedicated to improving patient safety and quality.”

The UW RFID Lab is a center of excellence in RFID, featuring state-of-the-art test beds for investigation of current RFID systems and the development of next-generation RFID solutions. The UW RFID Lab is an international leader in RFID research for healthcare industry applications, recognized for its multidisciplinary team of faculty and research staff and unique university-industry collaboration.

UW-Madison Industrial and Systems Engineering Professor Raj Veeramani says the project addresses a national health care priority. “Through innovative application of RFID, it will help reduce mortalities stemming from transfusion medical errors,” he says.

“This is a truly significant initiative,” says Alfonso Gutierrez, director of the UW RFID Lab. “It partners academia with industry leaders in blood transfusion and technology services to transform blood products supply chain management. UW RFID Lab's research team looks forward to contributing to this challenging and high-impact project.”

BloodCenter of Wisconsin executives agree. A private, Wisconsin-based, non-profit organization, the BloodCenter is one of only four blood centers in the world with a significant blood research program. Through its blood services, the BloodCenter of Wisconsin provides collection, testing and distribution of blood to 55 hospitals in 28 Wisconsin counties.

“Our goal is to help the transfusion medicine community ensure that the right product gets to the right patient at the right time,” says BloodCenter President and CEO Jackie Fredrick. “This project fits well with our focus on translational medicine, creating a bridge between basic research and clinical applications.”

Engineering External Relations
10/27/2009