Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has revolutionized how healthcare providers manage and monitor their facilities. Hospitals can easily manage their medical equipment, patients, and staff by using active and passive RFID technology. Learn more about the benefits of RFID technology in the healthcare industry and how it has become a game-changer in the field.
What Is RFID Technology?
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology uses radio waves to transmit data between an RFID tag and an RFID reader. RFID tags are small chips frequently found in medical environments, where they are in equipment or staff badges. For example, you will probably notice in a hospital setting that employees can only access restricted areas if they hold their badge near a device on the door.
The device on the door is an RFID reader that checks the information on the badge to determine if the person should have access. RFID technology is highly effective for securing confidential information, making it ideal for use in medical environments and other facilities that manage sensitive data.
Active vs. Passive RFID
There are two popular types of RFID technology: active and passive. Active and passive RFID tags can perform many of the same functions, but there are significant differences in how they operate.
Active RFID tags have an internal power supply that enables them to communicate constantly with the rest of the RFID system. Since active RFID tags have an internal power source that keeps them on at all times, real-time tracking of the location of tagged items is possible and generally more precise than passive RFID solutions. Active RFID technology is ideal for larger-scale operations responsible for keeping track of valuable equipment, where real-time tracking is essential.
Passive RFID tags also offer several advantages in numerous business applications, particularly in inventory management and supply chain monitoring. Unlike their active counterparts, passive tags do not require an internal power source and instead rely on the energy transmitted by an RFID scanner. This feature makes them more cost-effective and easier to maintain, especially in smaller-scale operations.
Benefits of Using RFID Technology
Simplify Supply Chain Management
RFID technology can help businesses simplify supply chain management, particularly in healthcare settings. In healthcare facilities, RFID technology like Pycube’s SyncSens can provide real-time traceability of critical items like IV pumps and ventilators, bringing peace of mind to all parties involved.
Active RFID technology is particularly effective in tracking highly mobile assets like wheelchairs and patient beds, which typically do not have a permanent location. Passive RFID tags, on the other hand, are lower-cost and small and can be easily attached to both large and small devices, making it possible to tag many items at once. Both types of RFID technology can simplify supply chain management by accurately tracking critical assets, leading to more efficient and effective healthcare operations.
Easily Monitor Productivity & Spending
RFID tags can also help healthcare organizations monitor productivity and track spending. Using real-time tracking and management of staff across all patient care environments, hospitals, and other facilities can keep track of productivity in a busy working environment.
Organizations can also drastically reduce paper spending and associated costs by utilizing RFID proximity cards and technologies in conjunction with output management software. Secure input printing and similar features offer a dual benefit for healthcare enterprises by providing insights into staff performance while helping to streamline operations and cut costs.
Strengthen Facility-Wide Security
Many organizations rely on RFID technology to protect their assets and secure their facilities. RFID tags provide a seamless and secure way of accessing specified areas within a facility. Say goodbye to memorizing and entering PIN codes to disarm an alarm system, and instead use proximity cards to authenticate your employees and grant them access. Additionally, multi-functional business equipment and software can easily be configured to securely authenticate a user at a printer, copier machine, or similar device. RFID adds another layer of security by ensuring that only authorized personnel can access confidential and privileged information.
RFID Technology Limitations
While RFID technology has many advantages, it has a few limitations to consider when implementing it in a healthcare setting. For one, active RFID systems require the installation of readers and antennas throughout the hospital to work in real time. Active tags require more maintenance as their batteries need to be changed occasionally. Furthermore, installing active tags can cost up to $30, making them more expensive than their passive counterparts. Due to their cost, many businesses prefer active RFID tags for securing expensive mobile assets and processes such as infant security and staff monitoring.
While active RFID tags may have limitations in some healthcare applications due to their dependence on WiFi, they still offer several advantages in tracking medical equipment and supplies. Conversely, passive RFID tags that track in near-real-time are still effective in many healthcare environments. Healthcare organizations can benefit from the cost-effectiveness and ease of maintenance of passive RFID technology. By weighing the pros and cons of each type of RFID system, healthcare providers can choose the most suitable option to optimize their operational processes.
RFID Applications in Medical Settings
RFID technology has many applications in the medical field that help healthcare organizations improve patient care and operational efficiency. Medical asset tracking, which involves using RFID tags to monitor the location and status of medical assets, can reduce equipment loss and help streamline facility management, ensuring that patients receive prompt care.
RFID technology can also assist with medication inventory management. RFID tags can easily track medication inventory, meaning healthcare facilities can ensure that medications are stored securely and minimize the risk of errors. In many scenarios, RFID technology can track medication usage and alert healthcare providers when medications need to be reordered.
RFID technology can help predict patient flow and manage hospital admission rates. Hospitals can analyze the data from RFID tags to gain insights into patient behavior and appropriately optimize resource allocation to ensure that patients receive timely care. The insights gained from RFID tags can be used to decrease wait times, improve patient satisfaction, and ultimately enhance patient outcomes.
How Pycube Can Help
RFID technology has been a game-changer for the healthcare industry. Using active and passive RFID tags, hospitals can efficiently and effectively manage and monitor medical equipment, patients, and staff. RFID technology’s benefits are numerous and far-reaching, from reducing the risk of over-medicating to streamlining operations and improving patient outcomes. As RFID technology continues to advance, we can only expect further improvements in the healthcare industry and that it will play a significant role in healthcare environments as time goes on.
With Pycube’s RFID asset tracking solutions, you can track the movement of vital medical equipment throughout your facilities and use this data to improve inventory management processes and more. Contact us for more information to get started.