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How Medical Device Manufacturers Digitize Trunk Stock For Field Inventory Management

Updated: May 13, 2022

Medical vendors leverage tracking technology and software to gain the insight they need to manage field inventory, trunk stock, and consignment programs.

Consigned surgical instrumentation and devices, such as ortho, implants, scopes, and laparoscopy, have become essential to healthcare facilities. What if the manufacturer knew exactly which loaners are in each rep's trunk stock? How could it be utilized to improve inventory utilization? How valuable would it be to know the actual location, whether in a hospital or with a field salesman? What are the solutions for making the entire process less time-consuming and error-prone?

What Loaner Management Software and Technology are Available?

Xerafy RFID Tag For Loaner Tray Tracking

The technology and processes to enable visibility of trunk inventory, loaners, consignment, and even the warehouse are now available. Electronic RFID tags that allow full tracking in the field automate the data collection. The battery-free trackers are totally field-proof from the warehouse to the trunk and the SPD for re-processing and are designed to be put on all types of metal and plastic trays, cassettes, containers...

Consigned inventory management features are already supported by integrated solutions from providers such as CardinalHealth, SPM from Steris, LoanerLink from Censis, and SpaceTRAX from Stanley Healthcare, among others.

By incorporating tracking capabilities into their workflows, medical vendors benefit directly from streamlining their field inventory, as well as its location and identification. The benefits of digitization extend to the institutions, where increased asset availability helps improve patient outcomes thanks to better surgical case coordination, scheduling between institutions and vendors, shorter pre-op notification lead-time, and increased overall accountability.

How to Advance Consignment Inventory Traceability and Accountability in SPD?

SPD departments are still learning to deal with the added complexity stemming from loaner instrumentation management, and medical device tracking can help.

Traceability at a CSSD Facility

The increased number of loaner trays, containers, and cassettes poses a logistical challenge, which is exacerbated by the impact on patient safety and service quality: How do I decontaminate, process, and handle instruments that are uncommon, rare, or complex? How do I get access to their count sheets and usage instructions? How can I learn about a loaner set's history records and document its reprocessing information at the facility?

While the use of loaner instrumentation may be temporary, the SPD is responsible for cleaning, sterilization, maintenance, and inventory integrity while in the custody of the healthcare institution. As a result, any tracking technology considered must be safe for all processing methods, particularly sterilization: ETO, cold solutions, autoclave/dry heat...

How to Foster Better Coordination and Faster Scheduling for the OR?

Xerafy TRAY TRAK RFID Tag on CD Horizon Spinal System 4.75 Percutaneous Tray
CD Horizon Spinal System 4.75 Percutaneous Tray

The OR will focus on get the right instrumentation sets, on time, and in the right room, as with all required instrumentation. Technology is already available at hand with scheduling systems such as Cerner, EPIC, Meditech, but more than often, loaner kits are not fully tracked.

In addition to reducing inventory-related OR delays, instrumentation sets will be built based on physician preferences. Each instrumentation set prepared for a specific case is labeled to assist perioperative nurses in proactive patient safety.

Eventually, surgical loaner tracking should enable full traceability, with each set associated with a doctor, an operating room, and a procedure, in accordance with UDI requirements.

Taking Consigned Inventory Management From Barcodes To RFID

Surgical Loaners with Barcodes and Tags

Medical device manufacturers are not new to field inventory with many looking at upgrading their tracking solutions to RFID. The technology is taking over from the first-generation loaner and consignment program tracking solutions that used barcodes, QR codes, and other camera/computer vision technologies.

The rationale for the technology upgrade is found in several operational advantages over older tracking solutions. Used with the right medical device tracking software, RFID enables real-time inventory tracking. It allows for inventory automation and is fully operational in the OR, SPD, and in the field, providing full data accuracy. Moreover, the unique identifiers provided by RFID tags are UDI-compliant for full traceability from manufacturer to patient. RFID has a long history of usage in the medical field and is fully interoperable with existing systems, facilitating the upgrade and its deployment at the facility.

Xerafy ROSWELL RFID Tag on Surgical Tray
Xerafy ROSWELL RFID Tag on Surgical Tray

The RFID tracking devices come in the form of Passive UHF RFID tags designed to be attached to the surgical loaner trays, containers, and cassettes. The RFID tags are made of medical-grade materials such as 316L stainless steel and engineered plastics. They are shock-resistant and processing-safe, being designed to withstand standard processing and sterilization methods.

The RFID tags fit both metal and plastic trays and take advantage of existing holes on surgical trays to provide a perfect fit using rivets or screws. The addition of metal inserts ensures a solid bond with the trays throughout the rigors of processing, while the option to use screws allows for easy removal or replacement if required.

Xerafy is a pioneer in RFID for Healthcare and Medical applications, bringing to market critical technological innovations that enable advanced identification and automation capabilities. In addition to a complete range of field-proven RFID tags available off-the-shelf, Xerafy offers Custom RFID Tags services, covering everything from a personalization service bureau to custom design engineering capabilities.

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