Radio frequency and identification technology (RFID) is garnering a huge market attention among various technology companies. RFID is proving to be a better alternative than barcodes, when it comes to providing security to a product.
Healthcare is a field where small mistakes can cost huge financial and personal losses. Improving operational efficiency is the prime target for hospitals. Maintaining effectiveness and keeping a check on every patient, is a tough task. No doubt that doctors and nurses work day and night for the betterment of the patient, but what if human effort is complemented with an excellent technology?
Applications of RFID
- Drug Faking: Every year, the World Health Organization reports indicate an increase in the illicit trade of medicines. Pharmaceutical companies lose billions of dollars each year due to illicit trade, and many people lose their lives on account of wrong medication. All these threats can be averted by using RFID technology. RFID tags are put on medicines, which provide them with a unique code and identity. In case of illegal distribution, fake medicines can be easily distinguished from the real ones. Expired medicines can also be kept under check by using these tags.
- Inventorying and Stocktaking: Supply chain management of the medicines and drugs is essential for delivering orders, and also for maintaining an extra stock of medicines. RFID tags can help distributors to keep an eye on the availability of medicines so that they have stocks piled up for emergency requirements. This will also save time, and improve the efficiency of the suppliers and distributors.
- Instrument Safety: It is mandatory to sterilize medical equipment before reusing them. Infections and contagious diseases spread due to unclean instruments. Medical devices can be provided with RFID tags, and RFID readers can be set up at the entrance of storing chambers so that they provide information about the status (cleaned, sterilized, or unsterilized) of such devices. This helps to eliminate disastrous errors that may occur on using unclean instruments. These tags can also give the exact location of the medical devices inside the rooms/chambers, and this helps to save time.
- Packaging Problems: Often, the seal and packaging of medicines may be doubtful. RFID tags can be very useful in solving these problems. Information regarding the seal time and packaging date can be put on the RFID read/write tags, which can be checked whenever necessary. Even when the medicines are exported to different countries, the exporters can keep an eye on their materials. This is of great help to the pharmaceutical companies.
- Accountability and Product Safety: An important part in the process of drug approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the clinical testing and authentication of medicines. Using RFID technology, the authorities can make the product more reliable, and moreover, the companies will also be accountable to the government rules and regulations.
- Patient Tracking and Information: Data management about the patient's health (report tests and medicines) can be maintained on a database, and automated directly by the above-mentioned tags. They can also convey information about the health status of the patients, by monitoring and recording blood pressures and heartbeat rates. This can facilitate faster recovery of the patient, and also help the nurses/caretakers to have a better check on their health.
RFID technology reduces risk factors of human errors in the healthcare industry. As it gets less expensive, it will be surely employed in many more hospitals.