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RFID: healthcare waiting for the holy grail?

RFID-1.jpgIt seems the healthcare sector continues to adopt a wait and see approach to RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) whilst the private sector deploys it in ever more diverse applications--not just tracking goods and assets, but also people and processes.

RFID comprises a wide range of technologies operating at different radio frequencies, using different operating principles (location finding, active/passive) and with a variety of available functions (writing as well as reading data, sensing, security, range).

In the supply chain arena there has been fast progress in the development of a global standard for RFID in retail supply chains (EPC Global), however standards are often used as an excuse for complacency. Continuing development of the technology, its diversity and ongoing development of standards will always mean that the healthcare sector will never find the holy grail of one technology with one standard set of characteristics that will fit all possible applications.

The healthcare sector needs to get a grip and begin to trial and deploy RFID where it has proven itself in industrial applications ranging from asset management through process control to logistics and supply chains. In these applications RFID has demonstrated for more than two decades a cost benefit or improved performance that increases customer satisfaction. There are many parallels and lessons for healthcare.

Photo by kind permission of Zebra Technologies Europe Ltd.

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