Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is redefining accuracy and visibility in a wide variety of sectors. Retail, manufacturing, aerospace, automotive and defense to name a few, but there may be no more vital area to benefit from the unique advantages of RFID than in the healthcare sector.
Greater accuracy and visibility means speed and fewer mistakes, in healthcare that means better safety for patients. Be it through tracking medicines, medical equipment, samples and even patients, hospitals and other healthcare facilities are using RFID to improve their service, and that means speeding recovery times and saving lives.
“RFID tags make it easier for medical equipment to be tracked and traced, enabling hospital employees to easily locate equipment when it is required urgently, thereby enhancing the safety of patients. The technology can also be used for inventory and minimizing misplaced equipment,” explains Andre Gwilliam of RFID Journal. “The automatic data entry in RFID technology can help to eliminate any medical mistakes, as hospital laboratories can use it to track tissue or fluid samples.”
Despite these compelling factors, healthcare was a slow starter in terms of RFID adoption. Up until 2013 less than 10% of hospitals in the US has taken on RFID technology in any form, leading to higher costs and poorer service in this crucial sector.
“The reason why healthcare costs are so high is hospitals keep buying things they already have and waste money,” said Mark Roberti, the founder and editor of RFID Journal, at a conference focused on RFID in Healthcare. Roberti believes that hospitals were so focused on the priority of saving lives that they become slow to adopt technologies that saves money, namely RFID. This situation has changed significantly in the subsequent years however.
Now, the market for RFID in healthcare is expected to grow to over $3.89 billion in the next seven years, according to a report published by Grand View Research. The rapid growth has mainly been credited to major factors such as growing utilization in patient and the product tracking. Furthermore, improving efficiency of inventory accuracy and the healthcare supply chain is expected to result in a further increase in adoption level of RFID in healthcare during the same period.
This growth is just the beginning, beyond the low hanging fruit of supply chain and inventory management there is a whole host of potentially beneficial RFID applications in healthcare. High-tech equipment dependent medical specialties such as radiology are now discovering the advantages of RFID for better maintenance scheduling, reducing equipment downtime and the chance of unexpected failure.
“At a time of technological uncertainty, we are relying more than ever before on the strength and safety of our equipment. Improving and strengthening your patient care with well-maintained and regularly tested RFID tags, through such leading providers, could make all the difference for a safer environment,” concludes Gwilliam.