Small miracles demand interoperability

There's a lot of talk on the SurgiChip site about HIPAA compliance and protocols, but it's really a Zebra RFID printer and reader. Your knee gets the same service as a pallet of toothpaste.

SurgiChip system, Zebra chip makerThe HIMSS show floor is filled with little miracles but it is hard to see how they can find their niches until hospital software vendors embrace interoperability.

I spent the day yesterday wearing such a miracle on my badge. It's called a SurgiChip. From the front it looks like a Post-it Note with better glue. But the glue covers a passive RFID chip.

There's a lot of talk on the SurgiChip site about HIPAA compliance and protocols, but it's really a Zebra RFID printer and reader. Your knee gets the same service as a pallet of toothpaste.

The SurgiChip idea is you get it at your pre-operation meeting, when you meet the surgeon and discuss the procedure. The idea is that your name and the operation are printed on the paper, your EMR data is encoded on the back, then the chip is glued on the site of your operation and the surgeon signs it.

This makes certain that if you go in to get a left knee replaced they don't take our our right kidney. Even if that happens just once for every 100,000 operations, as it does, this system provides prevention.

"With paper the orders to the surgeon and the patient don't always match. The surgeon looks at the paper in front of them and it can be wrong," said Chris Schuster of Interlogix, which is showing the product in its booth.

But if your proprietary EMR system doesn't support the device, you're either entering all this data manually or you've got an expensive paperweight.

On the other hand, Schuster said, systems like this can help spread RFID throughout the hospital. 

"This is a passive tag. Put an active tag on a bracelet from check-in and you're tracked from the moment you walk in." Tie it into your medication system and the only drawer in the room's medicine which opens will contain your pills, no one else's. Plus your relatives can always find you. 

A lot opens up when you have a system whose standards-based design enables little miracles like this.  

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