The term RFID (radio frequency identification) describes a wireless identification technology that uses radio waves to communicate data. Data is encoded in a chip, which is integrated with an antenna and packaged into a finished “tag.” RFID tags may be passive (requiring close proximity to a reader, and usually applied to track supplies), or active, in which the RFID tag contains a small RFID wristband to allow continuous monitoring (used mostly to track equipment).
For healthcare organizations, RFID is the next inevitable step towards the new generation healthcare services operations and it is set to provide new efficiencies, improved services, enhanced healthcare workflow and increased patient care for organizations seeking competitive advantage. Tracking elderly and disoriented patients in long term care cases, tracking mothers and their babies in maternity wards, ensuring the right procedure is being performed on the right person at the right time in surgical wards, a “smart” patient wristband that when scanned by RFID reveals patient name, date of birth, admitting orders, insurance information, surgical site, allergic reactions, medication requirements, and blood type are some of the innovative uses of RFID in the patient sphere. Among those benefiting are the many small to mid-size providers and clinics looking for an edge — from improved operational efficiency to enhanced patient safety.
Some of the recent RFID solutions, gaining importance in the Healthcare space are :
Patient safety at point-of-care: With numerous cases of wrong-patient and wrong-procedure surgeries ocurring, the use of an RFID tag attached to a patient, allows a physician to verify the correct patient, procedure and site — prior to the start of any invasive procedure.A handheld device can be used to confirm information(like the patient’s Chart and ID wrist band)stored on the tag. RFID tags containing full patient histories are used to provide emergency workers with a potentially life-saving “head start” in making treatment decisions.
Patient tracking: Hospitals are incresingly looking towards being able to track patients in realtime. RFID tags are attached to ID bracelets of all patients , or just patients requiring special attention, so their location can be tracked continuously. Physicians can also use the RFID system to easily locate patients, increasing their productivity on rounds.
Asset tracking: Hospitals are finding it easier to manage highly mobile medical equipment such as IV pumps and wheel chairs. RFID tags are used to transmit location data to a workstation which displays the data on a floor plan of the Hospital.Trained Nurses use the software to locate the items during their daily routines. This ensure that the Hospital reduces its inventory and labor costs.
Meds management: An RFID-enabled meds management solution allows a clinician to scan a patient’s wristband to validate identification and review current orders from a physician. Likewise, tagged medications can be scanned to verify that patient, medication, dose and timing are consistent and accurate.
Clinical supplies management: The use of RFID in health care provides a simple, low-cost solution that allows tracking of supplies from the factory to storage shelves.This ensures that hospitals and clinics achieve improvements in availability of supplies, less duplication and loss of equipment, and savings in inventory costs.