Nice University Hospital's biobank now uses RFID to guarantee sample traceability and confidentiality

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Psion plc and partner Frequentiel have successfully implemented a pilot project with Nice University Hospital that uses RFID technology to track living tissue samples.

The solution aims for better traceability of samples and specimens in the Hospital's Biobank. Psion's Workabout PRO PDA is used for the project's automatic identification component, to carry out the various operations of reading Frequentiel's RFID chips placed on the containers of living tissue samples.

While RFID is already used in healthcare structures for various applications such as patient, file and mobile equipment management, the confidentiality and ease-of-use it offers also make this technology a unique tool for traceability of living tissues. The experts have confirmed that it is possible to secure, control and track sample transfer times, time-stamp the operations each sample undergoes and facilitate specimen locating at every step in the process, from taking the sampling through to temporary and then final storage.

By combining the technologies and know-how of the Mistrals consortium members and Frequentiel, the project has been successfully carried out in real-life conditions on thoracic samples since July 2010. Boosted by the success, the teams are now looking to industrialize the solution and implement it in other Hospitals in France and Europe.

Professor Paul Hofman, Head of the CHU-CLCC tumour bank and Director of the Biological Resource Centre CRB INSERM CHU-CLCC and of the Region-INSERM 21 team explains: "Biological analyses are increasingly important in medicine. The collection of samples within the tumour bank can be used to make diagnoses but also to develop new, customised therapeutic strategies thanks to experiments that can only be done on frozen specimens. Given the amount of information processed, the sensitive and confidential nature of the data transferred and the need to preserve the frozen specimens, a solution to track and keep the specimens confidential was a great advantage."

The proven benefits of this pilot project, in operation since July 2010, raise hopes for a specimen traceability project on a more "industrialised" scale thanks to RFID technology.

This experiment is part of the Mistrals project carried out by a consortium of the international competitiveness cluster "Solutions Communicantes Scurises" (SCS Secure Communication Solutions) at Nice University Hospital. The consortium consist of ST Microelectronics, IBM, Tagsys, Psion, SPS, Nice University Hospital, Paoli Calmette Institute and Saint Etienne engineering school.

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