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Business trends

Smart labels could help Japan's money-losing hospitals lift productivity

Device suppliers Ship Healthcare and Teijin developing ways to manage inventory, slash wait times

Smart labels embedded with IC chips can help hospital track supplies and patient records.

TOKYO -- Japanese medical device suppliers are putting smart labels --  a technology widely used to track merchandise in the retail industry -- to work at hospitals in hopes of making health care more efficient for providers and patients alike.

Ship Healthcare Holdings and has begun testing an inventory management system at a hospital in northern Japan's Iwate Prefecture. The system tracks which medical equipment has been used on which patient and how much remains in stock by attaching labels embedded with integrated circuits (ICs) to each item. Once inventories of catheters or other supplies fall below a certain level, orders for new products are placed automatically.

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