Health-Care, Pharmaceutical Providers Testing RFID to Track Hemophilia Medication

Aug 06, 2018—

Specialty pharmacy US Bioservices is piloting an in-home inventory-management program using RFID technology, with MedImpact Healthcare Systems, for monitoring the at-home use of medications by patients with hemophilia, a genetic disorder impairing the body's ability to form blood clots. The system, consisting of passive UHF RFID-enabled coolers that track, in real time, which medications are being stored and which are being used, is intended to prevent the overstocking or expiration of medications, while helping health-care providers understand and manage each patient's condition. The technology is provided by US Bioservices' parent company, AmerisourceBergen.

US Bioservices provides patient support, including specialty medication and clinical care. Among its customers are patients with hemophilia who require drugs to manage their condition. Hemophiliacs typically live normal, healthy lives, but they require medication either as a prophylactic or when an injury occurs that could lead to bleeding. Typically, they keep these medicines on hand, since the drugs may need to be used on an emergency basis.

The myCubixx refrigerator

Like other medications, hemophilia drugs can be high-priced and have a specific shelf-life. They also require refrigeration to be effective, says Kevin James, US Bioservices' payer strategy VP, so tracking them is critical—though this can be difficult to accomplish when the drugs are dispersed to the homes of patients who may or may not need to use them regularly. Patients typically store the medicines in their home refrigerators, making it easy to lose track of them or enable them to expire.

MedImpact Healthcare Systems is a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) that provides home delivery of drugs for patients' health insurance companies. The system being piloted is part of the firm's MedImpact Direct Specialty Program pharmacy delivery service.

For the pilot, patients are using an AmerisourceBergen myCubixx refrigerator and cloud-based software to collect and manage RFID-based data from the cooler, which can then be made accessible to US Bioservices and MedImpact, as well as to the patient and health-care providers. Each of about a dozen participating patients will have the refrigerator installed in his or her home. The unit measures 1.8 cubic feet and can hold a month's worth of medicine, depending on the size of the product being used. It comes with a built-in computer, a ThingMagic M6e RFID reader module and antennas, and can be plugged into a standard wall unit.

Each medication provided to a patient comes with a UHF RFID tag attached to its container, with a unique ID number encoded to that tag. Passive UHF RFID tags are attached at one of US Bioservices' specialty pharmacies. That unique ID, stored in the US Bioservices software, is linked to details about the medication, including its quantity and expiration date, as well as any temperature storage requirements.