Podcast | Episode 5: RFID Technology in Pharmacy

Jerry talks about the use of RFID technology in pharmacies, specifically the use of RFID in refrigerated consignment programs and medication tray management.

Show Notes:
Host: Jerry Fahnri

Current setup:
Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – Blackout Edition
Dragonpad Pop Filter
Sony MDR-V150 Headphones

RFID-enabled refrigeration [4:25]:
Cardinal consignment programs [PDF]
FFF Enterprises

RFID-enabled medication tray management systems [7:00]
Intelliguard Kit and Tray Management System by MEPS
KitCheck by KitCheck

8 thoughts on “ Podcast | Episode 5: RFID Technology in Pharmacy”

  1. Another RFID-Enabled Refrigerator Solution:

    Several years ago, I saw a similar solution to manage high-cost, refrigerated drug products offered by the ASD Healthcare division of the AmerisourceBergen Company (ABC), a national drug wholesaler. It may have been introduced back in 2007 ( There is information on their website about this inventory management solution ( and a fairly recent press release in 2014 touted that they had exceed 400 Billion scans with their patented product, Cubixx ( One of the primary differences I recall is that they use “Active RFID Tags”, rather than the less expensive passive tags used by the vendor’s products you talked about. Their RFID refrigerators appear to be made by Helmer. Like the other vendors, it is a consignment-based solution. I’m sure hospital pharmacies that are using the system may have more information to share.

    Use of RFID within automated IV Workflow systems:

    I’m not sure if I see the added value of RFID scanning over traditional barcode scanning after you have already assembled the products for a particular IV admixture. It is my opinion that RFID is best used to detect the presence or absence of “items” within a larger grouping of those products (i.e., like the kit management and refrigerated items that you discussed in your podcast).

    Another possible, pharmacy-related, RFID niche: Controlled Substance Management.

    When you look at the human costs associated with the accurate management of controlled substance inventories from the time that the products are manufactured, throughout the wholesaler drug distribution systems, down to the receipt and storage within a large user of controlled substances (e.g., hospitals, mail order pharmacies, large retail), there is a HUGE need for a “better way”. RFID tagging at the time of initial labeling of controlled substance, coupled with RFID Inventory Management technologies throughout the supply chain would eliminate the current “human problem” that exists when people attempt to manage large inventories manually. Imagine an RFID version of CIISafe to then manage controlled substances once they are received by the hospital, retail, or mailorder pharmacy. This could even extend to RFID-enabled drawers (for these RFID-tagged controlled substances) within Automated Dispensing Cabinets. In addition to being a far superior method of inventory management across the supply chain, it would also create a more secure dispensing system within hospitals and other healthcare settings. The downside of this solution is that it would negatively impact all of the people who spend (i.e., waste) their time “counting” controlled substance inventories and tracking down controlled substance inventory discrepancies. Imagine what they could do with that time to actually improve patient care. It might also create some new challenges for drug diverters and maybe even “solve” a portion of this problem.

  2. We are exploring this at our hospital. May I ask your personal opinion on which is better between Intelliguard and Kitcheck? In general the Intelliguard workflow seems more logical to me (encoding after applying the tag..etc). I’ve also heard that Kitcheck can’t handle stacked tags in the case of a tackle box setup (I have not confirmed this). The pricing of these companies is interesting as well, no hardware costs..everything built into the tag cost-I’d almost prefer to purchase the equipment upfront and have a lower tag cost. I feel this would be easier to convince others that the tag cost is worth the functionality.

    I want to see one of these companies partner with an ADS and come out with a Pyxis/Omnicell anesthesia system (or drawer add on) that charged/charted as soon as the RFID tag was found removed. This would help us capture charges where anesthesiologist “forget” to chart that they pulled a drug.

  3. As always I appreciate your thoughts, Ray. I wrote about Cubixx back in 2012 ( You’re correct about the active tags. I remember seeing them for the first time and thinking they were gigantic. The tags were nearly as big as the drug items they were attached to.

    My thoughts on the use of RFID in the iv room are very specific. I’ll have to sit down with you sometime and walk through it.

    Completely agree with your RFID use case for controlled substances.

  4. Hi Matt – thanks for stopping by. I have some definite thoughts about your question. I’ll take them offline and email you directly.

  5. Matthew,

    Since I don’t know how else to get back to you, I’ll respond directly to a couple of your points:

    (1) Pricing of Tray Management Systems: While I believe that Kit Check has always used a “per tag” pricing method (i.e., all hardware, maintenance, and service is “free”, the MEPS Intelliguard system originally offered a more traditional pricing model (i.e., the customer purchased the hardware and software and the tags were purchased separately, at much less than the “bundled per tag” pricing method). I would suggest that if you prefer the traditional pricing method, you should let your preferences be known to the vendors. If MEPS is still offering both pricing models, which I believe they are, this may give you some leverage.

    (2) Anesthesia ADC with RFID Drawers: As you are probably aware, CareFusion/Pyxis and Kit Check have a business partnership. Whereas CareFusion/Pyxis used to demo their Pyxis Anesthesia System in conjunction with the Codonics Labeling Systems, I no longer see that and instead, I see them showing the Pyxis Anesthesia System with the Kit Check Anesthesia System. I have to believe that an RFID drawer (for controlled substances within the Pyxis A-System) can’t be far away.

    At a recent ASHP Meeting, MEPS was actually showing a prototype of an RFID drawer which could be placed in an Anesthesia Cart. You might ask MEPS where they are with that RFID drawer module and if they have established a relationship with any ADC vendor (e.g., CareFusion/Pyxis, Omnicell, or Aesynt).

    Given that the last thing on the Anesthesiologist’s mind is accurately keeping track of the controlled substance inventory on an automated anesthesia cart, I agree with you that this would be a huge feature on a system like this. The first vendor to bring this capability to the market will have something to be brag about.

  6. I googled ‘RFID Healthcare’ and happened to be your previous article ‘Cool Pharmacy Technology -‘ issued on Feb.24.2015. Our company, muRata, is making electrical components and one of the lineup is RFID/NFC. Here we make very small tags, 2.0 x 1.2mm for UHF and 3.2 x 3.2mm for HF, so if you’re suffering size problem to track very small pharmacy objects, our tags might be a good fit. These tags are rugged packaged so it should be able to withstand plastic molding process so one can embed these tags into for example rid of tubes or bottles. Just wanted to share and hope these tags might be useful for your future investigation.

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