Larry George is a retired Air Force clinical laboratory officer and currently serving as a contract project manager for the Center for Partnerships in Research and Technology (CPRT) in the Office of the Assistant Air Force Surgeon General for Medical Modernization. CPRT has projects and personnel assigned at Falls Church, Virginia, San Antonio, Texas and Biloxi, Mississippi.
In a previous blog post, I reported on a research project sponsored by the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General at the 81st Medical Group Hospital, Keesler Air Force Base in South Mississippi. The project, which uses Automated Identification and Data Collection (AIDC) applications, seeks to improve clinical and business processes. AIDC includes technologies such as Radiofrequency ID (RFID), ultrasound, bar codes and infrared that allows an item to be identified nearby, in the case of bar codes, or at a distance, using RFID.
An additional proof-of-concept project is underway in the hospital’s Central Sterile Supply (CSS) to validate the initial positive return on investment estimate. This application uses both bar codes and RFID to support surgical tray and instrument tracking. The two-dimensional bar codes (approximately 4 mm square) are electrochemically etched into the stainless steel surgical instruments, uniquely identify each instrument as well as its type, and are linked to information in the system data base. The accompanying picture shows a tech applying a 2D bar code as well as example instruments that have been marked.