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BCW Wins $1.4 Million NIH Small Business Technology Transfer Grant

BloodCenter of Wisconsin (BCW) announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $1.4 million Small Business Technology Transfer grant to fund continued research into the deployment of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to enhance safety and reduce hospital costs related to the collection, manufacture and transfusion of blood products.

The NIH grant allows the first-ever research into the potential clinical and financial benefits of RFID technology for automatic identification, tracking, and status monitoring of blood and blood products across the entire transfusion medicine supply chain.

Data from the Phase I research project, published earlier this month in the peer-reviewed Journal of Healthcare Information Management, demonstrated that RFID-enabled processes offer the potential for tangible improvements to productivity and safety, including reductions in morbidity and mortality among hospital-based patients receiving blood transfusions. Partners on the team include SysLogic, Inc., University of Wisconsin – Madison, Mississippi Blood Services, Carter BloodCare, Mississippi Baptist Health System and University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

RFID is an automatic identification method that relies on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags. RFID tags contain silicon chips and antennas that enable them to receive and respond to radio-frequency queries from RFID transceivers. This project aims to enhance the safety, quality, productivity and responsiveness of the nation’s blood supply through research, development and transfer of RFID technology. The targeted result will reduce production costs and blood transfusion errors by increasing efficiency and accuracy in material handling of blood.

“We are enthusiastic about continuing our RFID study on behalf of blood centers and hospital transfusion services everywhere,” said BCW Vice President and Chief Information Officer Rodeina Davis. “As this study will advance patient safety, reduce costs by increasing efficiency and streamline our processes, we are deeply gratified that the National Institutes of Health has funded our study through its completion.” Davis is also the Principal Investigator for the study.

“This NIH-funded project serves as a wonderful example of private-public partnership in order to bring new and innovative solutions to the marketplace. SysLogic is excited to collaborate with a team of distinguished researchers, technologists and health care stakeholders who are dedicated to improving patient safety and quality,” said SysLogic CEO, Tina Chang.

The NIH grant will fund the development and testing of a prototype which will demonstrate the functionality and test the limits of the RFID solution in a realistic, yet safe and secure environment.

“RFID has great promise for improved process control in transfusion and transplantation safety. Error reduction from donor to recipient is a health reform that has the potential to save lives and health care cost. I am pleased that the BloodCenter of Wisconsin, SysLogic, and the University of Wisconsin have led the way to improve patient safety through this evolving technology,” said Senior Advisor for Blood Policy in the Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Health and Science, Jerry Holmberg.

“Our goal is to help the transfusion medicine community ensure that the right product gets to the right patient at the right time,” said BCW President and CEO Jackie Fredrick. “This project fits well with our focus on translational medicine, creating a bridge between basic research and clinical applications.”