7 Reasons why do barcodes at Walmart succeed and in hospitals they fail?

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One of the biggest challenges hospitals are facing is tracking items in the operating and procedural rooms. Usually, we know what is coming in but have a hard time keeping track of what is coming out. Inventory gaps, preventing the use of expired or recalled products and capturing charges are some of the consequences.

Have you ever stopped to think why this is happening? Why does it work at Walmart and not at the hospital?

Most hospitals accept the medical implant according to the manufacturer’s number and give it an internal number without specifying an expiration date, production series, and other information about the item because it requires an advanced ability to read multiple manufactures barcodes. On the other end, the manufacturer’s catalog number is continuously changing. FDA and EU Medical device regulation have created the UDI standard, which are forces hospitals to digitize the implant record in the patient medical file for recall purposes

The FDA has accredited 4 agencies, from which medical device labelers can select to register new UDI. Adding universal product numbers to medical devices helps everyone in the supply chain—manufacturers, distributors, and customers—better manage and track products The Global Unique Device Identification Database (GUDID) is a database administered by the FDA that will serve as a reference catalog for every device with a unique device identifier (UDI). GUDID contains ONLY the device identifier (DI) portion of the UDI, which serves as the key to obtain device information in the database. While GUDID does not include production identifiers (PIs), GUDID contains PI flags to indicate which PI attributes are in the UDI.

Items are aging, new suppliers are added, and as a result, the maintenance of the item master becomes one of the biggest problems of the hospital, an issue that has financial and clinical implications. The medical staff will rightly claim that even if they adhere to the report usage of each item, and even if they will be trained on the sophisticated logistics software, the software sometimes simply does not recognize the item in the operating room.

What could be the solution?

By using computer vision technology, we can provide all segments of information at once from the packaging’s label (Ref, expiration date, batch ID serial number, manufacture, etc..), the information is then associated with the case number. The captured data is validated by our cloud server database and back-office team and sent to the hospital ERP and EHR. Therefore, we can ensure more than 99% accuracy with no human in the process. During surgery, alerts for any recalled or expired items that are in use appear on-screen, to increase patient safety and avoid litigation risk for the hospital.

In the infographic below we have gathered all the reasons that are important to know:


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