Why healthcare institutions need RFID technology
Ineffective patient tracking, poor asset management, and medication errors are the burning problems of healthcare institutions. RFID technology could provide a solution to these problems and directly affect quality of healthcare.
By using RFID tags, scanners, and central tracking software, medical staff could track a lot of information in real time – such as patient count, medications, asset locations…
In this article, we’ll explore three critical areas where RFID technology brings great enhancements and increases overall safety.
RFID vs barcode technology in healthcare
Before we dive deeper into the subject, we should mention that many hospitals already use barcode technology. However, RFID has many advantages over barcode technology in healthcare.
The first being is the amount of information it can gather. While barcode scanners can read one code at a time, RFID scanners can read hundreds of codes at once.
RFID scanners and tags are resistant to high temperatures and suitable for use in sterile environments as tags and scanners don’t need a line of sight or direct contact to connect, compared to handheld barcode scanners that require you to walk directly to the code you want to scan.
Equipment tracking & management
Hospitals are hectic environments. Tracking equipment with RFID tags and managing it through central software ensures everything is there when you need it, and as a result, all staff will do their job more efficiently.
Knowing the condition and location of all assets in real time helps hospitals be ready for any type of intervention.
Efficient maintenance scheduling and inspection of tools used in labs and ORs prevents unplanned breakdowns or missing equipment in critical situations. A notification system alerts technicians and allows for preemptive measures.
Patient tracking and increased safety
Wearable RFID tags help the medical staff track patients and optimize care, as well as safety. For example, a person who monitors the hospital could spot if a patient with dementia wanders off from the premises.
Patients waiting for procedures could be sorted out based on the waiting time. A nurse in one wing could notify a nurse in another wing that some patients have been waiting for admission to the operating room longer than expected and rearrange them based on level of urgency.
Unfortunately, infant abduction is a serious crime that hospitals strive to fight with every measure possible. Many hospitals now put RFID tags around newborn’s ankles and can keep track of their location.
Medicine and pharmaceuticals tracking
RFID tags on medicine allows the pharmacist to track inventory and refill it when needed. It helps the medical staff track treatments and give the right therapy to the right patient.
It’s been proven already that RFID reduces the number of medication errors in hospitals. Medical staff could identify the patient using RFID scanners, see their whole medical history and treatment plan.
It’s estimated that 1 in 19.000 units is transfused to the wrong patient each year. If the error happens, the system could notify the staff that could take proper measures. However, thanks to the capabilities of modern RFID software, treatment errors can be fully avoided as systems can automatically collect information from all the tags, check if they meet pre-set criteria, and trigger warnings if there’s a parameter mismatch.
RFID technology keeps our hospitals safer and efficient
Implementing technological solutions in hospitals can be daunting because it requires additional training for already slightly overworked staff, as well as time for adjustment.
However, if we make a simple cost-benefit analysis, we’ll see that RFID could increase overall efficiency, reduce manual labor, and keep costs of equipment down – but most importantly, increase the safety of patients. We hope to see more hospitals adopt RFID tech.
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