Blog

02/19 2017

Introducing VueTray and VueSurg

At the OR Business Management Conference in New Orleans two weeks ago, we were very excited to demonstrate a beta version of our two newest clinical documentation applications, VueTray and VueSurg. They are part of VUEMED’s ecosystem of solutions built on the VueTrack technology platform and work seamlessly with our other SaaS and Cloud-based applications.

VueTray is designed to document swiftly and accurately non-sterile orthopedic implants and trays, and trauma trays.  It utilizes either UHF RFID or advanced barcode scanning software to identify without error each tray and its contents, and documents the utilization of each implant through an intuitive and easy-to-use touchscreen interface.  It keeps a tally of trays used, all parts used by tray and by level within each tray, as well as a complete list and count of all items used during a procedure identified easily with clean descriptions and UDI data.

VueSurg leverages our VueTrack technology platform to manage, track and document surgical instruments from sterile processing to use in patient procedures – seamlessly and in real time.  VueSurg is an UHF RFID-based technology that works with RFID-tagged instruments to uniquely identify each individual instrument, its flow, location, chain of custody, patient utilization, and sterile processing status.  At the point of care, each instrument used is identified by VueSurg and recorded as part of the procedure, but is also monitored to make sure that it’s returned to a soiled instrument bin to secure a perfect count of instruments pre- and post-op for patient safety.  No more “missing” instruments, thereby providing peace of mind to physicians and staff.  Everything is handled by RFID antennas and a simple touchscreen application.

10/24 2016

Bringing RAIN RFID Technology to Healthcare

For the first time ever, VUEMED and Impinj held a webinar last week to talk about their partnership to bring RAIN RFID technology solutions to their healthcare clients. RAIN RFID is a passive UHF RFID based wireless technology standard that has connected over 15 billion items to the internet over the years, enabling businesses and consumers to identify, locate, authenticate, and engage each item. In the healthcare space, VUEMED and Impinj have joined forces to use passive RAIN RFID to wirelessly connect and network clinical inventory and assets to software applications such as ERP systems and inventory management systems. By tagging medical products and devices (or helping manufacturers tag their products) with standards-compliant Ultra High Frequency (UHF) passive Gen2 RFID tags – which are encoded with all of the unique pedigree information about a product – products are then recorded and “born” in the cloud.

We all know that healthcare providers struggle with their current materials management systems and the growing pressure on hospital budgets. In order to avoid waste and increase revenue, hospitals are looking to gain greater control over their clinical inventory. How big is the problem? According to the Global Health Exchange (GHX), more than 600 medical device recalls are issued each year, and up to 10 percent of products will likely expire on the shelf. Healthcare organizations lose $5 billion annually due to waste in the implantable device supply chain alone.

While Impinj provides the RAIN RFID tag chips, reader chips and readers, VUEMED’s software makes the data available about an item’s identity, location and authenticity across the healthcare supply chain. For hospitals, we bridge the gap between materials management and clinical areas in order to get the most accurate and timely communication of data on a product’s availability, location and pedigree information (lot or serial number and expiration date).  For manufacturers, we give them full visibility of their inventories anywhere in the field and all the way inside the hospital.

For a recording of this webinar, click here:

08/09 2016

Introducing VueTrack-Mobile

At AHRMM16 in San Diego last week, VUEMED was pleased to launch VueTrack-Mobile, the newest addition to its ecosystem of UHF RFID solutions, designed to vastly improve supply chain management, data accuracy and clinical documentation. This hand-held technology was met with great enthusiasm by representatives of hospitals and manufacturers because of the flexibility it offers to users who wish to perform a variety of inventory management tasks on the go, wherever and whenever they need to.

VueTrack-Mobile is a much-anticipated addition to VUEMED’s existing UHF RFID solutions, namely VueTrack-UDI, our turnkey UDI-compliant RFID tagging technology, and VueTrack-RF, our technology for ensuring the full chain of custody for products and devices from the point of delivery to the point of care.

Together with our technology partners – Impinj, Smartrac, Xerafy and Zebra – VUEMED is bringing to healthcare the superior strength of a complete technologic ecosystem consisting of UHF RFID-based hardware, tags and software. As demonstrated at our AHRMM booth (#1025), VUEMED and its partners are illustrating to hospitals and suppliers that choosing a unified UHF RFID technology platform brings them unprecedented flexibility, scalability, UDI compliance, data accuracy and visibility.

 

04/09 2015

Pros & Cons of Mobile Devices for the Supply Chain

I was recently interviewed about the pros and cons of mobile/portable electronic devices for the healthcare supply chain in hospitals.  As I stated, the emphasis should really be on the whole solution, not just one component of it such as whether the device is mobile or not.  The solution is what drives the efficiency in the supply chain, and is usually a combination of sophisticated software and hardware that may be mobile/portable; however, portability is not necessarily the best hardware option in the hospital environment.  It is true that because the supply chain extends all the way to the procedure room and the patient, smart phones and tablet PCs may seem attractive due to their format and portability; however, their inherent physical limitations – namely their limited screen size – can constrain the full potential of the app or software which are really the solution’s brain.  Additionally, mobile/portable electronic devices are fragile and can get lost, damaged, dropped, or stolen more easily than other types of hardware that are less sexy but much more suitable in many ways.

I think it is a mistake to believe that the portability of the hardware is paramount.  And how about solutions that do not require human intervention, or devices that do not need to be operated by humans at all?  For instance, VueTrack-RF™ is VUEMED’s RFID inventory management solution that is completely hands-free and free of human intervention: the RFID antennas and the software do all the documentation, analyses, and reporting of supply chain events and transactions without any mobile devices.  Medical products manufacturers and hospitals are already looking into such non-human driven systems that are much more accurate, effective and efficient, as well as cheaper to maintain and scale up.

09/29 2014

The Pitfalls of Supply Documentation at the Point of Care

Recently at the OR Manager Conference in Long Beach, CA we held a presentation entitled “Pitfalls and Implications of Current Supply Documentation at the Point of Care.”  In it we highlighted how manual, duplicative and error-ridden this process is, and why poor point-of-care data matters – the implications of inaccurate patient medical records, poor recall and expiration tracking, over- and under-billing, and product waste, to name just a few problems.

The challenges that resonated most powerfully with our audience were: (1) the highly manual documentation process for implants and biologics; (2) items hoarding, i.e. placing products in numerous places to ensure that they won’t run out, thereby causing excess and waste; and (3) the amount of time nurses spend on reviewing and responding to billing errors the day after a procedure.

What the audience said they were most shocked to learn about was: (1) the financial impact of the errors in the clinical documentation process, and the consequences of over- and under-billing; (2) the excessive number of manual touch points in this process, from the nurses in the room to the billing clerk to the auditors and often back to the nurses; (3) how many actual pieces of paper have to be completed and tracked; and (4) to what degree this failure of supply documentation at the point of care makes it nearly impossible to track recalls to the patient.

08/14 2014

Reflecting on AHRMM14

Last week VUEMED participated in the AHRMM14 conference in Orlando. As always, AHRMM was a great opportunity to reconnect with current customers and meet potential new customers. But this year was special for us because we had the opportunity to introduce our newest technology solution, VueTrack-RF™.  We’re proud of this new milestone in our company.

VueTrack-RF™ is the RFID version of VueTrack™, using advanced ultra-high frequency RFID antennas and inexpensive, versatile passive tags. It turns any space – whether a supply room, procedure room, or warehouse – into a fully controlled inventory space using existing shelving, thereby avoiding the need to install bulky and expensive RFID cabinets. Small antennas are strategically placed on walls or in the ceilings – everything else remains the same.

A major theme at this year’s AHRMM was the critical role of the supply chain in achieving accurate and complete data. VueTrack-RF™ tracks medical supplies, assets and people in real time with 99.5% accuracy. Data capture is hands-free and virtually error-proof. Some of the benefits of VueTrack-RF™ that the healthcare providers we spoke with at AHRMM14 were particularly interested in are how it would enable them to scan any manufacturer barcode, to have access to a centrally-managed, quality controlled universal item master database, to have real-time remote access to inventory data, and to avoid costs associated with product recalls.

10/23 2013

Are you ready for the FDA’s UDI mandate?

Q: What is the FDA’s UDI mandate?

A: The FDA issued a final rule on September 24, 2013 establishing a labeling system for the identification of medical devices through distribution and use with a unique device identifier, or UDI.

Q: How will this mandate be carried out?

A: The FDA rule requires that the package of every medical device include a UDI in a plain-text version and in a form that uses automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) technology such as a barcode, RFID, etc.

Q: When will this mandate be carried out?

A: The FDA is aiming for an aggressive time table for implementation of the UDI system, with most high-risk medical devices required to carry a UDI on their label within the next year, moderate-risk devices within the next three years, and most low-risk devices within five years.

Q: What is the goal of the UDI system?

A: This system will enable the FDA to address more effectively a growing public health concern about patient injuries and deaths related to medical devices. By ensuring accurate monitoring and swift identification of devices implicated in adverse medical events, UDI will improve product recall management and patient safety.

Q: What is the GUDID?

A: GUDID is the FDA’s new public, searchable Global Unique Device Identification Database (GUDID), which the UDI will be used in conjunction with.

Q: How will this change affect healthcare providers?

A: We anticipate that healthcare providers will benefit greatly from using UDI on their devices because it will help them improve their clinical inventory management and enhance their tracking capabilities (expiration, consignment, etc). Using UDI will help provide hospitals with more accurate and efficient inventory data, the ability to implement better management tools, improved accuracy of invoices, and a reduction in the number of erroneous purchase orders.

The UDI will also be valuable for accurate clinical documentation – systematically documenting medical devices throughout the supply chain all the way to patient records.

Q: Is the FDA requiring the use of a specific type of AIDC technology?

A:  No; however, the most commonly and widely accepted form of AIDC technology is the barcode. There are currently multiple different classes of barcodes being printed on medical devices and supplies. VueTrack™ is an advanced barcode scanning technology system that is uniquely suited for reading, parsing and interpreting over 120 classes of barcodes, and for accurately and swiftly extracting the product ID, lot/serial number and expiration date. It will become vital, when embracing the UDI system, to consider upgrading at the same time to a system like VueTrack™ that can handle any barcoded information and provide a seamless feed into clinical documentation as well as materials management systems.

Q: What is new with VUEMED?

A: VUEMED has under development two new tools in beta version that leverage its unique expertise and technology applied to inventory management and clinical documentation through barcodes. The first one, VueScan™, is specifically designed to assist with the documentation process of medical devices and supplies at the point of care by allowing it to identify and parse all barcodes, and pass in real time the right information in the right data input field of the clinical documentation system, thus providing accuracy with expediency in one step. The other tool, VuePar™, is designed as an audit tool primarily for the materials management function, whose main objective is to allow actual SKU quantities available on the shelves to be periodically checked against active par levels to determine necessary reorder numbers. VuePar™ accommodates management at the SKU level but also handles the Kanban system or a combination of both, as well as consigned and non-consigned inventory.

 

09/05 2013

Reflecting on AHRMM 2013

If you attended the 51st Annual AHRMM Conference in San Diego recently, you might have noticed that vendors representing inventory management solutions were more numerous than in previous years. This was confirmation for me that hospitals as a whole are putting more emphasis than ever on inventory control. Also, it shows that the market is catching on and offering more options to hospitals. This is all good. The more competition there is, the better – it helps bring newer and more sophisticated solutions and technologies to the hospital environment to address the many complex issues associated with managing medical supplies and devices.

Despite an increase in the number of offerings at AHRMM, however, I didn’t see many vendors offering comprehensive solutions that address the variety of needs across the healthcare supply chain. And their lack of emphasis in most cases on the importance of complete and thorough inventory data capture surprised me, especially since hospitals are now demanding more data and analyses to help them gain better control over their inventory-related expenses.

Additionally, one thing that shocked me at the conference was the totally anachronistic approach of some consulting firms to inventory management problems. One firm was actually arguing that in a particular case study where a hospital was losing $4 million per year due to mismanaged inventory and shrinkage, it should add 30 staff people (yes, you read that right) at $50,000 per year per staff ($1.5 million total) in order to manage the inventory; their theory was that this would result in a net savings of $2.5 million per year.

The math sounds pretty attractive, but I seriously doubt that this equation could work in higher end job markets like San Francisco, NYC, Boston, and so on. Also, this solution is just out of touch with hospitals’ current reality. Who in the healthcare supply chain in recent years has been able to hire and sustain more staff? All we have been hearing lately is the mandate to do more with fewer people, not more. And can that consulting firm guarantee that spending $1.5 million on added staff really erases $4 million in shrinkage? Needless to say, this is not a sure thing.  To make matters even more ridiculous, this particular case study had to do with the waste of consigned items which weren’t even owned by the hospital (p.s. – shouldn’t the manufacturers of these products be taking some responsibility for their own inventory?).

Most importantly, we live in the 21st century, and we need to keep encouraging and supporting hospitals to modernize their processes. A much more logical and effective approach for hospitals is to invest in long-term technologies that ensure increased productivity and efficiency. By spending a little money up front on technological solutions that solve such entrenched problems as mismanaged inventory, hospitals see dramatic savings within a few short months.

05/28 2013

The Crisis of Medical Billing Practices Today

A couple of articles published in the past couple of months about hospital billing have illustrated a great crisis of our modern healthcare system in the U.S. There was the very informative but disturbing article in Time magazine in March, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us” by Steven Brill (http://tinyurl.com/afcvpxa), which made no apology about exposing both for-profit as well as non-profit hospitals’ mind-bending billing practices that prioritize boosting the bottom line rather than caring for patients.

The other article, published more recently earlier this month by the New York Times, “Hospital Billing Varies Wildly, Government Data Shows” (http://tinyurl.com/c2vjq4y), drew attention to the disparity in cost charged to patients for identical care from one hospital to another, transcending regional variations as hospitals literally sitting across the street from each other charge vastly different amounts for the same procedure.

Both articles underscored the reality that the cost of providing care and the prices charged to patients are completely unrelated, and that hospitals follow obscure billing practices that rely on mysterious formulas. What is the true cost of care? I’m not arguing against hospitals’ charging a fair market value for their services and turning a profit. But fair market value is what’s key here – and the best interests of patients – not the financial gain of hospitals.

What I also find unnerving is that there is absolutely no transparency or guideline as to the method of pricing and charging for their services. Imagine going to a grocery store and depending on your method of payment or where that store is located, the total for your shopping cart may go from $100 to $800. In a transparent and real market economy, patients would be able to compare the price of healthcare services among providers in order to obtain the best services at the best cost. Where else do consumers engage a service without any knowledge of the price they’ll have to pay at the end? Nowhere but healthcare where patients only realize the financial trouble they’re in once they receive the bill, which can leave them anywhere from baffled to bankrupt.

Let’s give patients the power to decide where to spend their healthcare dollars. Usually when consumers are empowered, providers compete to provide the best service at the best price which should result in lower healthcare costs, more efficiency in delivering services, and increased quality and outcomes.

04/18 2013

VUEMED and Optimé Supply Chain team up

We’re very excited about our new collaboration with Optimé Supply Chain.  You may have seen on nbcnews.com or on Yahoo! Finance that VUEMED and Optimé have joined forces to create OptiVue™, an exclusive Web-based software system that combines VueTrack™ and SmartANALYTICS™ (by Optimé).

OptiVue™ is a critically important development because it solves the data problem that exists in most hospitals. It does this by giving hospitals the tools they need to access, gather and analyze the data required to make informed decisions about their inventory composition, supply purchases, clinical utilization and comparative effectiveness.

OptiVue™ breaks down IT system silos in hospitals and creates a seamless, integrated data flow from otherwise fragmented applications, such as materials management, clinical information systems, billing and electronic medical records. OptiVue™ also connects patient, demographic and account information to the supplies used at the point of care, as well as to the performing physicians and procedure type.

For more information, check out our new OptiVue™ page on this site.