HealthRFID

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Portrait of Scott Linke, HealthRFID Business Development Executive

Optimizing Our Specimen Supply Chains: An Introduction to HealthRFID with Head of Business Development, Scott Linke

A key contributor to HealthRFID’s start-up success, Scott has over 20 years of experience in supply chain management. Applying his wealth of knowledge, Scott has helped pivot HealthRFID technologies into an impressive array of specimen supply chains. From blood bags to tissue samples, Scott has an in-depth knowledge of the unique demands and concerns of these industries. Today he agreed to sit down to introduce HealthRFID and share a little about his time as head of business development.

Welcome Scott. Can you please begin by giving us a brief introduction to HealthRFID and what the organization does?

“Pleasure to be here!”

“HealthRFID is part of a group of companies, and that group of companies has been around for 25 odd years. The organizations within that group have built up skills and expertise in tracking technologies over a long period of time.”

“HealthRFID was formed as part of that about nine years ago, to leverage that expertise into the healthcare industry.”

“If you look at the sort of things that we’ve done, we’ve started out dealing with traditional pathology, looking at tracking of samples and the issues associated with that. We’ve since branched into blood transfusion and the blood transfusion chain.”

“We’ve been involved in clinical trials and specifically the biologic issues around clinical trials and managing samples and everything that’s associated with that from a laboratory perspective. We’ve done work in the organ procurement chain alongside tissue and bone processing.”

“And more recently, we’ve been involved in forensics, so really our area of core expertise is supply chain management of anything biological in the healthcare industry.”

“And that’s all been the result of building up unique skill sets in these technologies over a long period of time.”

So HealthRFID leverages tracking technologies to enhance supply chain management for members of the healthcare industry, is that correct?

“The tracking technologies are important, but it’s broader.”

“Supply chain management is not just about moving and tracking things from point A to point B to Point C, it’s about understanding what’s at point A, what’s at point B, and how that can impact Point C.”

“A classic example of that is the pandemic – and not how it just affected healthcare providers but how it affected all organizations. Think about the supply chain and all the issues we had during the pandemic. No one had contingency plans in place. They didn’t understand how closures of factories in China, for example, would affect deliveries into places like Australia or the US and lead to organizational chaos. Businesses went broke because of it.”

“We’re talking about the same concept here. You need to be able to understand what’s going on in the supply chain, and how it can impact your business.”

“Because at the end of the day – healthcare or not, if you can’t get the items that you need to run your business in a timely manner, you’re losing operating revenue. If you don’t manage it carefully you create the risk of becoming insolvent. So that’s really where we help.”

“Albeit, I don’t think the healthcare industry is particularly unique. I’d look at a snapshot of today: what are the drivers of the healthcare industry specifically to look at? They’re driven by the same factors as any other industry. “

“If you’re a patient, what you expect out of hospitals now is higher in terms of service levels than what you might have expected 20 years ago. What that does is it puts pressure on the hospital to deliver those services and deliver the quality.”

“If you’re a patient, what you expect out of hospital now is higher in terms of service levels than what you might have expected 20 years ago. What that does is it puts pressure on the hospital to deliver those services and deliver the quality.”

“And hospitals for one, have limited resources. They have limited money. So how do they do that? That’s really the core of what digital transformation is all about: it’s about productivity issues. How do I get more out of less?”

“A simple example of that might be the labeling of a blood sample in a hospital. There are still hospitals that use clinicians and nurses to write on a piece of paper or a little white label what that sample contains. Now in today’s age, ask yourself, wouldn’t it make sense to digitize that process and make it a lot more efficient and accurate?”

“We’re in an information age where we should be able to access a broad range of information to help us understand and make more informed decisions. In a supply chain world that might mean understanding volumes of samples that are coming into a lab and making sure that I can effectively resource this afternoon, based on what I know is happening this morning.”

“There’s a push for just-in-time (JIT) inventory management. An example of that is blood. Blood is in short supply. How do I make sure that blood that’s got to be allocated to a patient is done at the last minute so that I’m not tying up resources in blood that could be used elsewhere in emergencies? How do I manage that process?”

“Other areas are just about understanding digitally the journey of things like samples. In the forensic world, there are court cases that can be thrown out because samples integral to proving the case weren’t handled correctly and it’s happened. So, there’s a lot of effort and resources put into making sure that that’s documented, and surely digital technology has a role to play in making that journey a lot more efficient and making sure that all of those details are recorded efficiently.”

“So, to answer your question, tracking is just a subset of what we’re really trying to do, and what we are trying to do is optimize in these supply chains the best ways we can.”

Front view of HealthRFID's head office

HealthRFID Head Office

So HealthRFID has been around for almost a decade. Do you think HealthRFID has made a significant impact in the healthcare industry? If so, would you mind please sharing some success stories or case studies with us today?

“One of the more concrete examples of one of the things we’ve done are the safety labeling systems in hospitals, particularly blood group and store testing; where blood samples are taken to identify the blood grouping of patients. Obviously, there’s a high risk there because if a patient is given the wrong blood grouping during transfusion, it can potentially be fatal, and it could certainly cause a lot of side effects.

“There are hospitals that we’ve worked with where they’ve had several near misses – and a near miss is not an actual miss, but they’ve come very close to giving a patient the wrong type of blood. Thankfully, it’s been picked up at the very last minute. We’ve implemented systems that have eliminated those risks, and it hasn’t happened in the instances where we’ve installed our system.”

“There are hospitals that we’ve worked with where they’ve had several near misses – and a near miss is not an actual miss, but they’ve come very close to giving a patient the wrong type of blood… We’ve implemented systems that have eliminated those risks.”

“Another issue in this area the industry has – particularly with sample collection in hospitals or pathology – is the rejection of samples if they’re not labeled appropriately. There are a number of reasons samples are rejected, but one is because the labeling is not compliant. So, in instances where we’ve deployed our system, we’ve been able to reduce that non-compliance for labeling down to virtually zero.”

“What does that mean? That means that the samples don’t have to be retaken. That has an impact on the patient experience. When you’re receiving a blood draw, and the nurse keeps coming back and saying – ‘oh we’ve got to take another sample’. You’re not happy about it, and you have the risk of vein issues and veins collapsing from repetitive sampling. You have time wasted because the samples have been taken again, so that’s time taken away from clinicians and nursing staff that they can’t dedicate to patients. So, we’re actually enabling them to have more time to give patients.”

“For clinical trial sites, we’ve enabled staff to reduce their documenting time by half or even two-thirds because they don’t have to go and log everything on paper. We’ve enabled the quality of output from clinical trials to be increased because we’re providing automation of processes and eliminating a lot of human error. These are just examples of the sorts of things that we’re achieving across this space.”

“In forensics, as I mentioned earlier the amount of time that organizations spend making sure that they are able to fully trace samples that are being used in court cases is astronomical. By making that process digital, we have been able to free up their staff to handle higher volumes or direct their time elsewhere in the organization rather than just checking, double-checking, and rechecking the integrity of the work that they’ve done. So that’s really important as well from a justice outcomes viewpoint.

Now HealthRFID is not alone out there working in this space, so what makes HealthRFID so special, and why would HealthRFID be an effective partner?

“I think that if you look across all the environments and the sub-industries we’re involved in, I don’t know that there’s someone who has the breadth that we do. There are certainly in specific areas other organizations and other suppliers that we come up against.”

“Everyone’s supply chain is a little bit different. The way that they manage these processes is different and here we can coin the phrase ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ – and it’s true. You can’t just take a square peg and try and fit it in a round hole if all you’ve got to offer is a square peg. Our approach before we engage any client in terms of a solution is to understand well, what is your current process?”

“You can’t just take a square peg and try and fit it in a round hole if all you’ve got to offer is a square peg. Our approach before we engage any client in terms of a solution is to understand well, what is your current process?”

“Let’s sit down and understand how you do things as they are and how we can use technology to fit for that application rather than just saying ‘Here we have a square peg to sell you’ and hope that that fits into what they’re trying to achieve.”

“There’s a lot of time that we spend upfront to 1) understand the existing process and the issues, 2) offer the most cohesive form of change management and 3) create the maximum, most positive impact on the organization – without loading up staff at a time when staff are worked to the bone anyway.”

“Staff are extremely time-poor and are often unmotivated to adopt new technology. So, suppliers must make the process as easy as possible. How you do that is by understanding what their environment is today before you change that environment tomorrow. That’s what we do best, and I think our clients will attest to that.”

Thanks for your time today, Scott. Would you be able to share some insights into any exciting projects or initiatives happening on the horizon at HealthRFID?

“Oh, look I’m not going to sort of mention any specifics. I think what I will say is that we’re always looking, and as part of our philosophy, we are always looking for ways that we can add value to our client’s business – in whatever way shape, or form that is. And so that drives the initiatives that we undertake, and there are some things that we’re doing, but you know, watch this space.”

Thanks for reading. You can learn more about HealthRFID here or learn about our platform here.