CAN RFID TAGS IMPROVE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY PERFORMANCES?

Hospitals are complex, high-risk environments where any disruptive digital innovation can contribute with a positive impact on the operations performances. There is no doubt that RFID can play a role in helping the entire healthcare system efficiently manage inventories, improve asset management, and process monitoring, allowing also a better patient experience.

When dealing with medications, RFID can help itemize and sort stock to ensure quality, prevent waste and help in saving lives. All according to the main goal of ensuring patient safety and wellbeing.

However, successful implementations of RFID in healthcare are challenging and it is necessary to mitigate risks with effective implementation strategies.

RFID IN HEALTHCARE: WHY IT IS IMPORTANT NOW?

RFID technology has become a foundational technology in supply chain and asset tracking, which has driven its widespread adoption. Given the proven benefits of RFID to industries such as retail, manufacturing, and transportation, it is important for healthcare organizations to understand how they can leverage this technology to improve the patient experience, increase operational efficiency, and reduce costs.

The healthcare industry is undergoing a major transformation and change due to the growing demand for services. The population is getting older, and the demand for treatment is rising. The number of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, is also increasing. At the same time, budgets for healthcare are becoming tighter.

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT

The most common RFID use case in healthcare is inventory management of supplies and equipment. Hospitals use RFID to track and report items such as respirators, medications, beds, and more.

Organizing the data with a single system will allow hospitals to optimize their inventory, enhance accuracy, reduce overall supply cost, and improve safety by identifying the availability of critical equipment, their status and location.

TRACKING AND IDENTIFICATION

With RFID it’s possible to create a smarter supply chain tagging medicine from the start, tracking it through distribution, ensuring product authentication against counterfeiting and its delivery to the right place at the right time.

It’s not only a question of efficiency and speed: all this helps improve patient safety!

Another way RFID is being used in the healthcare sector is for patient identification and tracking. Hospitals can assign each patient a unique identifier that can be stored in their medical record and on their wristband. This will enable staff to quickly identify the patient in need and track their location and if a patient is readmitted the staff can quickly access the patient – right – records.

PATIENT EXPERIENCE AND EFFICIENCY

RFID can also be used to increase the speed of patient checkout: if a hospital implements an RFID system, it can easily track patients’ belongings and ensure that the patient can quickly find what they need. This can save patients time, and it will also help staff free up their time for other duties.

Then in order to reduce length of stay, some hospitals are implementing RFID in the patient’s room. This enables the hospital to track environmental factors such as temperature, light, noise, and more. This allows the hospital to make adjustments to improve the patient’s stay, which can reduce the length of stay and the associated costs.

BARRIERS

Although RFID technology is very promising for the healthcare industry, there are several barriers that impede the implementation of this technology which includes economic, technical, organizational, and legal challenges.

The overall cost of implementation is often the main barrier but also technical limitations such as RFID tag readability, interference with medical equipment, and interoperability with other health information technology.

Strategies to overcome barriers should focus on extensive cost-benefit financial analysis, and thorough testing of technology prior to implementation, education of staff on technology, and acknowledgment of the need for appropriate application of security measures.

Here is where Inventag Team could help: to face and overcome these challenges by selecting best technology according to business needs.

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