Certain medical devices require individual adaptation to the consumables used in each case
For example, blood sugar test strips contain chemicals that react with the blood. This reaction is evaluated by the measuring device, which then displays the blood sugar level. Since each batch of test strips has a relatively large variation, the measuring device must know the batch parameters to ensure correct measurement. As a result, the trend is now to insert cartridges of ten test strips in the device and to integrate an RFID tag in each cartridge, which contains the batch-specific production parameters of the test strips. The measuring device reads the tag automatically so that even Alzheimer's patients still receive precise results. In other areas, for example where the reagents used only have a specific life or a limited use-by date, RFID tags can also ensure proper use.
ID technology with the relevant crypto-controllers offers the right solutions for software protection
Wherever there is a need for IP protection or protection from imitations, ID technology can help – with both hardware and software protection. Hardware and software can also be clearly assigned to one another using ID. Since the expertise of many medical technology manufacturers is primarily in their software, they must use special measures to protect this software. Again, here ID technology with the relevant crypto controllers (which are often also line-based or hard-wired) offers the right solutions for software protection.
The field of mobile healthcare is a combination of smartphone and sensor technology. The mobile system records data in an RFID tag. Patients who have the relevant sensor on their person can when necessary – i.e., if they feel unwell – read the data from the RFID tag and use an app to send it immediately to the doctor, who can make an initial diagnosis based on this data.
In medical technology, it is important that all the elements of a system work together properly
With an integrated RFID tag, it is possible for the individual elements to effectively identify themselves electronically. In this way, manufacturers ensure that only the appropriate accessory, the right probe or the special single-use element is connected to the device. Manufacturers can therefore ensure that only original accessories from their company are used and no imitation products are used that might cause hygiene or liability problems. If the device only operates using original accessories protected by RFID technology, the manufacturer has also taken due care in this logistical aspect. The range of possible applications for object identification via RFID is huge, since RFID can be used to identify blood supplies just as easily as chemical components, which are mixed together to repair teeth. There are even RFID tags, which work at -150 °C, so that virus samples, cryo samples, etc., can be identified via RFID, whereas labels often fall off at these extreme temperatures. If the tag is incorporated in the plastic of a blood bag, for example, clear identification is possible after it has been thawed.
A wireless service interface uses RFID technology to set the parameters for a device at the end of the production process
The manufacturer produces a device for the global market, and its individual parameters such as user language can be programmed individually prior to dispatch to the dealer or customer. In addition, service technicians can use RFID technology to change the parameters of a device locally without having to establish a mechanical connection. For example, for x-ray machines the strength of the radiation has to be reset after a certain number of operating hours. The wireless service interface can be used to reset the machine quickly and reliably: without using plugs which are problematic in terms of hygiene. In many cases, certain parameters must also be set locally in the application. Although the buttons on the control unit can be used to program a dialysis machine, a smarter and more hygienic solution is offered by an app, which then transfers the relevant parameters such as flow rate, speed, etc., to the dialysis unit via RFID. If for example an English speaker is working in the hospital, then it is possible to set the user language to English via the user app for the devices that this person uses – this would set not only the app but also the device display because the device receives the relevant information via RFID.
Secured data exchange
The required level of data security can only be assured using the relevant crypto-controllers and authentication systems
Whenever sensitive data has to be sent via the Internet (e.g., from the lab to the doctor or from the nuclear spin tomography department to the doctor) it must be transferred securely because patient data is highly sensitive. The required level of data security can only be assured using the relevant crypto controllers. Depending on the application, symmetrical or asymmetrical methods - or a combination of both methods - may be used.
Sensor tag / data logger
In future applications, RFID sensor tags could be read with standard NFC phones
Such an element will provide information about specific medical values, such as vital functions or the level of oxygen in the blood. These values could then be read wireless via RFID. Data logging over a longer period of time would therefore be possible. Patients could even use an app on their own Smartphones to read the recorded data and automatically send it to the doctor or another evaluation point. For a diabetic patient, who records blood sugar values via RFID on a Smartphone and also keeps a food diary in the relevant app, this can create an excellent database for further decisions: in this way, the patients can better look after themselves. This improved fine-tuning can considerably increase quality of life.