Kit Check announces two patents issued by USPTO

baby_cryingI receive press release emails for several companies. One of those companies is Kit Check. I’ve written about Kit Check several times before.

Yesterday I received and email from Kit Check stating that “the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued two meaningful patents with two more expected on June 16, 2015. The patented innovations reach back to Kit Check’s founding and are fundamental to automating key hospital pharmacy processes”. Ok, that caught my attention. I’m always curious when patents are granted.

The two patents issued are U.S. Patent Numbers 8,990,099 and 9,037,479. Both have to do with the management of pharmacy kits. I proceeded to the USPTO where I found the same abstract for both:

“A system for managing pharmacy kits comprises a reading station configured to read tag information from a plurality of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags associated with a pharmacy kit, and an information processing system operatively connected to the reading station and configured to receive the tag information from the reading station and determine a status of the pharmacy kit based on the tag information, a plurality of stored templates defining contents to be included in each of a plurality of pharmacy kits, and a plurality of kit records indicating the current contents of a plurality of pharmacy kits.”

I didn’t spend any great amount of time reading through the details of the patents because let’s face it, people who write patents do a masterful job of filling space with useless dribble. Seriously, patents make pouring a cup of coffee sound like someone has created a method for generating perpetual motion. With that said, I did do a cursory overview.

I was surprised at the gist of what was patented. In summary, the patents were given for a system that uses RFID tags to read things inside a closed container. Obviously there’s a bit more to it than that, but that’s my understanding of the patents in a nutshell.

I cringe when I see patents like this because it’s proof that you can patent just about anything these day. And in my opinion it stifles innovation, creativity, and ingenuity.

Does this mean that other companies won’t be able to develop a closed system that reads multiple items with RFID tags? I certainly hope not. Only time will tell what Kit Check plans to do with these patents, but I can only guess that they didn’t spend all that time, energy, and money for the heck of it.

Pharmacies and RFID

RFID technology is intriguing in many ways. It offers some advantages over bar code scanning technology, but then again it tends to be more costly and labor intensive. I’ve always thought RFID technology would find significant use in pharmacy practice, but that hasn’t happened. It has found some niche areas in healthcare, but not to the extent that I thought it would.

I read two RFID articles over the weekend, and on the surface they appear to be in stark contrast. But after giving it some thought I’m not so sure that’s entirely true.
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Kit Check passes 100 customer mark

Kitcheck.com: “Kit Checkâ„¢ … today announced that over 100 hospitals are using its cloud-based software solution. The first customer site was installed at the University of Maryland Medical Center in April 2012 and the user base has grown quickly, including more than 50 sites added since January 2014.” – Pretty interesting numbers coming from Kit Check once you get past the marketing jargon. Yeah, I’m calling shenanigans on this statement in the press release: “Kit Check Vice President of Sales Doug Zurawski, Pharm.D., commented, …  “Kit Check already represents the fastest adoption rate in history for hospital pharmacy software and our growth continues to accelerate.” Fastest adoption rate for hospital pharmacy software in history? I’d like to see the fact checking for that statement. I’m going to reserve the right to take that statement with a healthy dose of skepticism. Still, having 100 customers using RFID technology to manage medication trays is pretty impressive.

If you’re more than just a casual reader of this blog then you know that I support RFID technology and believe that it has a niche in pharmacy practice. And one of those niches is medication tray management.

I first mentioned Kit Check back in January 2012. Back then Kit Check was really the only game in town, but times have changed. Not by much, but they’ve changed. Today Kit Check is directly challenged by Intelliguard by MEPS Real-Time, Inc, and to a lesser extent MedKeeper. Each has their potential pros and cons.

Does this mean that RFID is poised to take off in pharmacy practice? Hardly, but it does mean that people are beginning to see the potential benefits of using this type of technology. As long as the companies in this space continue to improve usability I can see potential uptake in the near future.

Anesthesia Check – O.R. syringe labeling and medication tracking system

Got a chance to see the new Anesthesia Check system from KitCheck while at ASHP Midyear. The system is designed using RFID and bar code technologies to provide safety for syringe labeling in the operating room (OR), as well as chain of custody and waste tracking for all medications used by anesthesia during surgery.
Continue reading Anesthesia Check – O.R. syringe labeling and medication tracking system

Kit Check goes in at CaroMont Regional Medical Center in North Carolina

PRWeb: “CaroMont Health (formerly Gaston Memorial Hospital) became the first hospital in North Carolina to adopt Kit Check™for hospital pharmacy kit processing.

CaroMont Regional is a 435-bed, not-for-profit general and acute care facility. Kit Check™ provides cloud-based software that leverages RFID technology to reduce pharmacy kit replenishment from an average of 30 minutes to 3 minutes. CaroMont installed Kit Check™ in mid May and after 10 weeks of operation has already tagged and tracked more than 10,000 medications used in 206 emergency pharmacy kits.”

I know some pharmacists at CaroMont. They’re good people and are always looking for a way to utilize technology to improve operations.

I wrote about Kit Check back in January 2012. I’m a big fan of using RFID technology to manage niche items like medication trays. It makes sense to me. Barcoding works, but sometimes it’s just easier to use technology like RFID.

Is RFID the future of heathcare? I don’t know, my crystal ball recently stopped working. The technology itself is quite mature, but hasn’t really caught on in healthcare. With the advent of smartphones and tablets with built-in NFC technology I have to believe that some innovative company will take the queue and continue to develop the concept.

Things I’ve written about RFID can be found here.

NFC medication tracking system

Well, well, well, here’s one page in my idea book that I can put a big read “X” through [December 6 2011 – Page #42]. And for all those people that told me it was a stupid idea – you know who you are – I have one word for you: Harvard. Yeah, that’s right, Harvard. It seems that some intelligent, forward thinking people over at Harvard Medical School have developed an NFC system for medication administration at the bedside.

Ah, justification. Feels good. Sorry, sometimes being petty feels good.

NFC World: “Harvard Medical School’s teaching affiliate Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has developed an NFC system aimed at making it easier for nurses to track and administer each patient’s medication.

The new bedside system uses a combination of Google Nexus 7 NFC devices, which run the new application and store details of each patient and their prescribed medications, and NFC tags attached to patient wristbands, medication packages and employee ID badges.

When administering medication, nurses use the NFC tablet to tap the tags on the patient’s wristband, on the medication and on their ID badge. The application running on the tablet then checks to see if the medication and dosage is the correct one for the patient and records which medication was administered to the patient and by whom.”

Booyah!

Research: Dr. Adam Landman: Near-Field Communication Technology at the Patient Bedside from BWH Public Affairs on Vimeo.

RFID-enabled carousel [Video]

A link to the video below was left in the comment section of my recent ASHP Midyear 2012 post. The video features a SencorpWhite RFID MiniVert Carousel. Pretty cool use of RFID technology. Where would something like this fit in a pharmacy? Not really sure, but I can think of a few use cases that would make sense.

From the SencorpWhite site:

In the pharmacy setting, the integrated RFID provides two distinct operations –real-time put-and-pick verification and cycle counting –and so, the MicroVert allows stock transactions to be securely and accurately monitored without operator intervention. In addition, inventory can be audited on-demand in as little as 30 seconds.

Health Robotics ASHP Midyear press release includes mention of RFID

I came across this press release yesterday. The press release is from Health Robotics, a company that builds and distributes automation and technology aimed squarely at the I.V. room. Their product line includes several robots designed for specialized I.V. room compounding, including i.v.STATION ONCO, i.v.STATION, CytoCare and TPNstation.

It looks like the company is taking advantage of recent events surrounding sterile I.V. preparation to promote the safety of robotic compounding. They will be presenting data from recent studies from various hospitals across U.S. This all makes sense. But what I found interesting was the quote from Gaspar DeViedma, Health Robotics’ EVP.

“… I invite all ASHP attendees to compare and contrast our company’s track record now yielding streamlined robotic “live” installations within 60 to 90 days from purchase order; new RFID solutions tracking temperature-controlled I.V. doses from the offsite sterile compounding sites to the hospital pharmacies, on to delivery carts and refrigerated cabinets and all the way to the patient; and finally to witness the new standards in Chemotherapy and Monoclonal Antibody Therapy IV Automation.”

The emphasis is mine. That part about RFID almost slipped past me when I first read it. RFID is gaining popularity in the pharmacy world. Health Robotics certainly has my attention. I’m curious to see what they’re up to. I hope to have an opportunity to visit their booth at Midyear. I’ll keep you posted.

NFC & RFID with Android [Slide deck from SlideShare]

I came across this presentation while surfing the SlideShare superhighway of information. It gives a nice little overview of both RFID and NFC technologies, including hardware, software, and potential uses. It also provides information on how to use the Android SDK to build NFC enabled applications. Thinking about giving it a go.

More RFID refrigerator stuff – Cubixx and myCubixx

The video below gives a brief overview of Cubixx and myCubixx from ASD Healthcare, an AmerisouceBergen Specialty Group. Cubixx is a large RFID refrigerator solution like you’d see in a pharmacy, and myCubixx is its little brother that is used by patients as a personal RFID controlled refrigerator at home. Pretty cool concept.

Continue reading More RFID refrigerator stuff – Cubixx and myCubixx