If you are a regular reader here at the Quack, I have had a small campaign going on with posts about how this technology could solve a lot of issues, main one being some ideas with recalls at the FDA. Microsoft Tags was kind enough today to include my thoughts today so in case you are not on Twitter or one of the other social networks, here’s the article below. Many thanks again to Microsoft for the consideration here, I was speaking out loud here a bit on what I thought might be a simple for consumer to use technology that could save lives.
You can also view the entire article here at Microsoft Tags and by all means download and get try it out on your phone, very simple and easy to use. Try making a tag of your own. I keep a couple of my Tag samples on the blog for anyone to practice with as well under the resources on the right hand side.
Also, check out Microsoft Gov who also posted about this potential life saving technology too:
Do Microsoft Tags Belong in Healthcare? (Same post but directed toward government use/readers)
Do Microsoft Tags Belong in Healthcare
“We are lucky to have Barbara Duck of The Medical Quack write a guest blog post.
Barbara has quite the blog on the medical industry. She was kind to write an amazing post, concerning Tag & Health. Enjoy!”
Do Microsoft Tags Belong in Healthcare? I Have Some Ideas on This Subject
If you read the Medical Quack you may have seen some of my recent posts on how I think this technology would prove to be an asset to healthcare. Healthcare, like every other industry today is inundated with information and rapid communication is key. We have more mobility today with telehealth and other wireless capabilities emerging into an area that is growing by leaps and bounds, almost faster than we can keep up. We read about safety notifications and their timeliness and availability all the time, and thus my thoughts grew into the area of another avenue of using cell phones to help keep up.
Recalls of both medical devices and drugs are growing for a number of reasons. First of all, we have a lot more information available today than what we have ever had and we need to capitalize on this opportunity quickly. We read in the news every day it seems about quality control issues, devices needing software updates and so on. How do we get the word out quickly and efficiently? If one has times they can certainly search the web and put out a full on effort to find all of this every day, but healthcare workers have the same problems we all have and that is time. When human lives are involved, time is everything.
The opportunity to turn a cell phone into a “scanner” with real time information is huge. As mentioned above, this can be a daunting task at times and we have people at all different stages with using technology today and in my opinion, using a cell phone makes sense, when all one has to do is open a program on the phone and simply “shoot and aim” and relative information would be available instantly. Back in October of 2009 I kept reading about all the recalls of devices and created my first opinion/idea post here. It just made sense to me.
Some hospitals have used RFID to work with getting recalled devices off of the hospital shelves and this is great, but what about those who have not, and furthermore, what about the consumers and/or patients. For instance I could be looking for new safety information about an over the counter drug that has been on the news, while someone else who has an implanted heart device may be looking for something else, but one thing in common is that we both need access quickly.
This is where Microsoft Tags and cell phones can play an important role. The Tags can be encrypted and will work with many RFID programs too, so to me it appears we have one big common denominator of technology that we could use to bring this all together. If medical device companies were to use a Tag on their packaging of their devices, it would only take one quick scan to ensure it has not been recalled, or alert healthcare workers that new safety information has been released on a product. Obviously if a device had been recalled, perhaps a big red screen could be used as an alert and in the case of new safety information regarding surgical procedures, when scanned, that too would show on the cell phone.
Scan that knee, hip, defibrillator before you use it, takes a few seconds and will help hospital registries function and less mistakes. Hospitals work hard to do a good job at this, but I continue to read stories to where patients have been implanted with a device that had been recalled and it was missed. One story in particular involved a man who was implanted with a heart device that had been recalled and he died when it malfunctioned. To me, this could have been a preventable incident and a life could have been saved if a simple scan would have put up the red flags to not use the device.
There have been talks for years at the FDA about a registry and that is good, but I feel we need to add some modern day technology to make this work. The plan talks about involving medical records and here have a vehicle to help accomplish the task. One company found that even after a device with a potentially dangerous flaw was pulled from the market, doctors at more than 40 hospitals implanted it in at least 50 patients, so is this reason enough for concern, I think so.
Have you ever looked at how different packaging is with devices? Even if some currently have some type of bar code, it still take an individual time to look all over and usually compare the item to a description that has been printed from either a manufacturer warning or one from the FDA, lot numbers need to be identified and so on. If you have ever tried to look up such information yourself, you can probably attest to this fact.
In addition, the FDA could maintain a synchronized data base of all the Tags filed by drug companies and medical device manufacturers. Once a synchronized data base was established the FDA could have instant alerts to notify them that the company is in compliance. This would not replace current notifications by any means, but would serve to enhance with having a quick and simple way to serve several purposes.
Kaiser Permanente has a “registry” system they use which identifies implanted joints and they can get a print out of patients and doctors on who has those implants, but not all hospitals have this capability and this is only one area of recalls that needs to be addressed. I like what Kaiser is doing with their technology but as mentioned I think the cure needs to go up the ladder a few steps here to produce a system that is universal and easy to work with. Hospitals still have to manually have a “person” go through the implant log by hand. I have had informal conversations with pharmacists and a couple people at Kaiser that liked the idea too, so why not explore.
If a device or drug notification has changed, the Tag can be changed. In the case of the FDA and a synchronized data base an encrypted token on the Tag from the FDA could be possible to ensure the information is not a copy cat and with the access to the page only allowed when it contains their token. Unfortunately there will be those who try to copy cat out there, so this is just a little forward thinking on my part. Without the FDA token, the information page would not be accessed. Recently the FDA put out an announcement to help individuals identify recalls and below is a personal opinion with several other links as to my perceived concept on how this can be done much better with technology. We had the recent “counterfeit Alli” warning and how easy would this have been to take your phone and scan the product to make sure you had the “real product” in hand?
I have made a couple of my own samples for demonstration purposes that I keep on the blog, one goes to a sample text document and the other Tag opens my blog on a mobile phone. Lately we have heard about drug thieves too and by having some real time tracking on bottles, this could also stand to help locate and tell the difference between real and counterfeit drugs and help the DEA find those that have been stolen. Right now we have to look for “lot” numbers so why not have a Tag specific for each lot number in the case of pharmaceuticals and over the counter drugs? Could be just turn this lot number into a Tag as well?
Recently in the news was an article about a drug recall that missed the normal publication areas with the FDA and the recall of the drug went almost unnoticed. I am out there on the web every day working at what I call “being a forensic dot connector” in healthcare and this item along with using Microsoft Tags just “gelled” in my head as a way to avoid something like this occurring again.
The absolute beauty of the Tags is that you can either aim and shoot at a Tag on your computer screen, or it can be printed on a piece of paper too. General Mills has started using Tags on some of their food products. You can watch the video below and just think of the magazine as a bottle of pills, a device or whatever to get the idea of how this works.
There is also some work in this area relative to Personal Health Records, how convenient would it be to aim and shoot and add credible information into your Personal Health record? Would you rather sit down at a computer and go through the process or use your cell phone to add the information? If you received an EOB statement with insurance reimbursement information would this not be simple to instantly add this to your personal health record?
The link below is an article I posted a short while back that gives more details on the personal health record and device connections. You can see where the Withings scale is connected with encrypted Tags. With Tags you could also explore the idea of storing a Tag in a medical record so the patient could easily identify what device they have, implanted or external use and at any time they could play an active role in keeping up with any pertinent information they need.
Not too long ago I did a post about Kroger, the grocery chain using bar coding in their stores and the principle here is very similar, if a customer tried to purchase a product that had been recalled, a notice appeared when the customer was at the checkout line, “do not sell”. I think in this area we might pay a little attention to what their IT folks did to ensure consumers were not buying “recalled” products, food or over the counter drugs.
One day I adventured outside the area of healthcare a bit in reference to the White House story about the uninvited guests, and had these thoughts, it could be an asset to the Secret Service too, as the data base of Tags for invited guests would allow all agents to collaborate and make sure that everyone had their “Tagged” invitation in hand, so in other words no duplicates here and the Tags would update so all officers would know who checked in with real time information.
I see this as a technology that has some very far reaching benefits and it is available today and is not being used, especially in areas where lives can be saved and errors can be reduced. Granted each use would have its own element of design and planning and infrastructure implementation would need to take place, but the basic functionality of what can be accomplished in my thoughts here truly substantiates a “proof of concept” that shouldn’t be over looked as we are losing out with not using a simple and efficient technology that could benefit so many and save lives.
Tags could be stored in “cloud” data bases, like SQL server as one example and processes written around to develop alerts and notifications for when information changes, we do this already with electronic medical records so the idea is not new and novel, just needs some innovation and programming.
This post here is somewhat of my request for a “wake up” call for many to explore and see if we can better utilize technologies that are here today and will grow with tomorrow to help us navigate though the era of information overload and explore the use of “smart technologies”. That is somewhat why I started my blogging campaign at the Medical Quack to hopefully create an awareness and maybe spur some creating thinking here with pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies and the FDA as an available technology that could stand to save lives, improve how we communicate and evaluate information and besides all of that when you try out some tags, it does have an element of fun and excitement too when you watch all of this take place on your phone!
Recently with Johnson and Johnson in the news, they somewhat became a “poster child” here for me to again once more “hint” around and suggest this concept once more and they are not the only ones today being hit hard with recalls, no matter how they originate, being an FDA recall or a voluntary company recall, they are all the same in the fact that a methodology better than what we are doing today is necessary.
Would I as a consumer like the availability of being able to use my phone to get this information instantly? You bet I would and I can guess too that clinicians would also welcome using this technology as they could have instant information instead of a lot of extra time in going to the web and performing time consuming research. We simply are running short of time to do all of this today and I think we should give this some heavy consideration here with improving how and where we find the information we need.