SUPPORTING HEALTHCARE ASSET TRACKING THROUGH RFID
Between 2015 and 2022, it is projected that:
The RFID in healthcare sector will grow by 24.7%.
Over $3.89b will be spent in this sector by 2022.
Asia Pacific will be one of the best markets in this sector, with growth of over 25%.
[Statistics from Grand Review Research published in April 2016]
Integrating RFID solutions into a healthcare facility ensures better patient care and improved facility management – particularly as hospitals are frequently large-scale employers boasting busy schedules. By attaching radio wave tags to assets, patients and staff members, a hospital’s management team ensures that they keep track of exactly what is going on in the busy hospital environment. It also ensures that the RFID system has maximum positive impact on patient care.
According to RFID Journal founder and editor, Mark Roberti, however, these benefits still aren’t being translated into actual working systems used by hospitals. As recently as 2013, during an RFID Journal-organized conference on RFID in Healthcare, Roberti remarked that less than 10% of hospitals are using RFID.
Why RFID Asset Tracking Features?
Although the focus is rightly on saving lives, the slowness in taking up technologies that would help them keep track of their assets is a contributing factor in hospitals unnecessarily wasting money in purchases. Hospital management needs access to up-to-date, visible data at their fingertips, as well as an effective monitoring and tracking system in place, to effectively keep track of people and assets.
As a technology, RFID tags can be used to automatically identify and locate people or objects and track them as they move around, by making their location visible via a web-based app. This aspect of RFID tracking is being touted as an effective method of infection control that gives management and staff a step-by-step outline of a patient, staff member or asset’s movements.
Because data comes in in real time, the management team effectively have the means to react fast and minimize any potentially negative fall-outs – whilst maintaining maximum patient and staff safety. The data can also be quickly accessed via the app to which the readers and apps are linked, ensuring that users can locate equipment or other members of staff as needed.
Additionally, there has been increasing evidence to illustrate how integrating RFID tracking solutions with hospital assets can help drive down costs. Considering that most hospital equipment is an expensive investment, and that they can also easily be “forgotten about” in a large hospital, RFID is a long-term solution to keeping it visible within the system.
Instead of losing track of equipment which may be lying unused, staff can turn to the web-based app which indicates where the closest unused equipment is. Instead of wasting time trying to find the needed equipment, staff can locate it all within a matter of minutes. It also ensures that hospitals do not overspend on unnecessary new equipment.
Benefits of RFID in Healthcare Asset Tracking
In the context of the healthcare industry, RFID has several major benefits, including in:
- Patient care : This gives healthcare staff the ability to locate patients at all times, and keep track of their movements, particularly when it comes to preventing infections. RFID provides the added benefit of creating alerts and reminders for when patients require medication.
- Managing supplies : Rather than order too much, RFID helps keep track of what is needed – and gives management an idea of the kinds of quantities that should be ordered. This ensures that supply amounts can be altered according to where they are needed most – and reduced where there is too much.
- Managing assets : Hospitals can quickly and easily locate and track asset movement, how and how often the assets are used, track maintenance information and other data. With automatic asset location within minutes, staff spend less time searching for assets, and more time treating patients. Less money is also spent on assets which are deemed ‘lost’, or cannot be found.
- Safe prescriptions : Matching up with data stored in electronic records, healthcare staff can provide the drugs required by each patient, by simply using a handheld reader and RFID patient tags. This system not only ensures patients get the medication they need, but it also links up to the drug inventory system and makes things more traceable.
- Tracking prescription medications : Rather than tracking prescription medications based on their lot number, they are also now tracked using other information including their expiration date.
- Ensuring security : It isn’t just a case of preventing unauthorized access to areas such as laboratories or surgical areas. RFID tracking can also ensure that assets aren’t removed from the premises, as well as prevent patient mix-up or their unauthorized removal. RFID’s security features are also particularly useful to stop the theft of medication.
- Controlling Access : Just as security is an important safety precaution, hospitals need to control who can enter parts of the premises. This is particularly important when it’s a matter of keeping areas as sterile as possible, such as operating theaters, or maintaining strict control over who can access patient records.
- Inventory management : By creating an up-to-date data store on stocks of medicines and other items, hospitals can keep easy track of what is being consumed. This allows hospitals to adjust their expenditure according to what is most needed, whether it be adjusting what new assets they require or adjusting which medicines to buy.
- Cost-cutting : Not all cuts to spending are negative. With up-to-date data coming in providing management with high visibility of what’s going on, unnecessary expenditure on extra assets or medication that aren’t needed can be reduced. This means that otherwise wasted expenditure can be diverted to other areas in the facility where that finance is needed the most.
- Infection control : According to WHO statistics, at least 7 out of every 100 hospitalized patients at any given time acquires a Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI). RFID tracking can be used to ensure that all equipment and surgical instruments have been sterilized, and staff have taken the steps to comply with hand hygiene.
It doesn’t stop there either. RFID can also be used in tracking personnel as they move around, to ensure that they can be quickly located when needed. As access to patient records is also important in patient treatment, RFID tracking on digital or hard files ensures healthcare givers have all they need at their fingertips.
RFID technologies integrated into their everyday workings, healthcare facilities can ensure their patients get the best quality of care. Whether it’s supply chain efficiency or monitoring asset location and the way assets are used, hospitals can ensure they cut down on expenditure, whilst maintaining the very best care of patients.