The healthcare industry has been increasing its investment in RFID technology. As a result, the recent market research shows RFID in healthcare will grow exponentially by 2025. One of the reasons for the significant expansion of RFID in the industry is the wide applications that can get benefits.
There are a variety of applications in hospitals that adopt RFID technology – from surgical tools tracking to patients and medical care personnel tracking.
The following are 7 common RFID applications in healthcare around the world.
1. The medicine inventory tracking
Hospitals have an ever-increasing and ever-changing supply of medicines, and inventories must be constantly tracked to ensure patients receive adequate supplies. Traditional inventory tracking (as in many industries) involves manual counting and barcoding, which are labor-intensive and time-consuming. Using RFID in healthcare can reduce the time it takes to count, allowing medicines to be counted more frequently, ensuring accurate medicine types and quantities.
During the inventory process, the RFID tag on each bottle or box can be read with a hand-held reader, or the inventory can be continuously performed with a fixed reader and antenna.
Some hospitals and pharmaceutical manufacturers also use RFID for pharmacy anti-counterfeiting management. Due to the high cost of prescription and life-saving medicines, counterfeiting is on the rise, and many companies choose RFID as an anti-counterfeiting way.
By placing RFID tags on medicine bottles or boxes and encrypting them with specific information so that hospitals and pharmacies can verify that the medicines they sell are genuine. Tamper-proof RFID tags are also used in these applications to ensure quality.
2. Patient and employee tracking
Currently, hospitals are using passive RFID and active RFID(Bluetooth) technology to track patients and staff throughout the hospital.
There are three main reasons for equipping patients and employees with RFID in healthcare.
Passive RFID systems are often used to check patient information. RFID wristbands are printed with patient information, and it is stored in the tag’s chip or linked to the tag’s ID with a database. The information printed on the wristband is the best way to identify the patient, as it assists the patient in an emergency by ensuring they are not given the wrong medication or taken to the wrong area of the hospital.
More recently, hospitals have used active RFID (like Bluetooth) in real-time location systems (RTLS) to manage their workflows, to move patients in and out faster and more efficiently. In these cases, both patients and medical care personnel wear RTLS Bluetooth badges, and the system identifies their working hours in certain areas and updates them to the management team.
RFID tags can also be used to track infants. To reduce the risk of infants being stolen, the hospital placed RFID tags on all infants to monitor and track them. If the infant is near the exit, an alarm will be sent and the door will lock. Additionally, if the RFID tag is removed from the baby, the system will alarm immediately and indicate the infant’s location.
3. Surgical instrument tracking
Hospitals need surgical instruments such as scalpels, scissors, clips, and retractors every day. These instruments must be sterilized before use.
RFID can be used to track the instruments in the whole cycle, from warehouse to operation room, to sterilization center and back to the warehouse, information of each station can be recorded, including the time, duration, operation person, etc, it will not only help to reduce loss, mistake using of the surgical instrument, but also ensure each instrument is properly sterilized, what’s more, it can improve efficiency and reduce operation risk that leaving the instrument in the patient body, these are the major benefit by deploying surgical instrument with RFID in healthcare.
4. Disposable items tracking
Items such as gauze, gloves, and plastic vials are important single-use items in hospitals that must be kept in regulation. Since they are disposable and low-cost, cost-effective RFID products are needed.
RFID inlays can provide a cost-effective inventory solution for these disposal items, and RFID inlays can be placed in warehouses or racks.
5. Equipment tracking
Hospital beds and other portable testing machines are high-value items that are occasionally lost or misplaced. Tracking these items is critical in hospitals due to their high cost.
Deploying an RFID system is an ideal way to track these assets. Hospitals often use real-time location systems (RTLS) based on Bluetooth low energy technology to track these assets all the time.
6. Access control
Access control is a typical application of RFID in healthcare, hospitals often use RFID badges to restrict access to certain prohibited rooms or areas for unrelated people.
Staff must tap his RFID badge in front of the door reader to gain access. It not only prevents unauthorized access to restricted areas but also provides protection for medicines and medical equipment against theft or damage.
7. Linen & patient uniforms management
Towels, quilts, sheets, and patient uniforms are found in every hospital room. All of these items must be washed and sterilized before use. An effective way to track these items and ensure they are sterilized is to deploy an RFID system