The Batteryless RFID Imperative in Healthcare

Posted by Ken Lynch on Tue, Jul 20, 2010 @ 10:36 AM

Patient-Centric Applications That Are Changing the Healthcare Landscape

“Today, for as little as 8 cents per tag in quantities of 5 million units, one can obtain Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags that need no batteries and can report their unique identity to a reader 50 feet away. What does this mean? Simply put, batteryless (also called passive) tags enable the rapid and precise measurement of almost every operation in the healthcare setting - from counting and verifying the number of items in each surgical tray to understanding the calculus of human behavior in hygiene compliance. Think about this for a moment. I’ll wait.”

The statement above is an excerpt from a new whitepaper published by ThingMagic, exploring the numerous benefits of deploying Passive RFID in healthcare environments. Download the paper here.

Simply put, Passive RFID is the most economical way to measure a large number of parameters in healthcare settings. For example, Passive RFID can be implemented as fixed/finished readers and embedded into mobile and stationary devices to perform a variety of functions including operating room loss prevention, surgical tray and instrument track-and-trace, pharmaceutical control, document management, patient tracking/throughput, infection control, inventory control and even inventory management in ambulances.

The extreme deployment and integration flexibility of Passive RFID is complemented by the many different types of low cost Passive RFID tags that can be affixed to, or integrated into everything from consumable inventory, to handheld surgical tools, metals, liquids, patient wristbands, photo ID badges and many other items. 

Given today’s economic environment, this unmatched number of low cost, easy to deploy reader and tag combinations allows hospitals to select a single or a small number of critical areas to deploy a Passive RFID solution – based on immediate need - then expand to additional departments or add complementary components such as an RTLS or other Active RFID platforms as more resources and budget become available.

RFID Loss Prevention PortalFurther, the ability to embed Passive RFID into mobile and stationary devices allows hospitals to benefit from patient-centric applications that would otherwise not be possible, such as point-of-care solutions and services, automated pharmaceutical receipt & distribution, and automated admissions, discharge and transfer.

An example of this approach is in motion at The Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center. This installation has proved highly successful, avoiding the loss of many expensive surgical items like a $19,000 electronic neo-probe. In its next phase, Greenville Hospital will deploy Passive RFID readers throughout its main facility to track nearly 5,000 pieces of mobile medical equipment. Download the case study.

What are some other interesting RFID deployments in healthcare? What will be the next driver for healthcare organizations to invest in Passive RFID? We want to hear what you think. Please leave your comment here. 

Tags: Loss Prevention, RFID, Asset Tracking, Healthcare, RTLS

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