All Categories

Integrating RFID Technology for Better Healthcare Supply Chain

  • Mahesh Tiwari
  • May 02, 2023
  • RFID
Integrating RFID Technology for Better Healthcare Supply Chain

Supply chain and Logistics businesses often look for ways to make the day-to-day supply chain operations a robust one. With quickly changing business landscape in terms of competition, challenges and complexities, it is prudent to incorporate modern industry 4.0 standard technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) -led automation, Internet of Things (IoT), and predictive analytics. This not only will streamline the complex operations but bring in a true Industry 4.0 transformation in supply chain and logistics business.

The healthcare supply chain, however, needs this transformation more efficiently and more quickly because human lives depend on healthcare. Additionally, the supply chain costs in healthcare account for a significant spending, about one third of the operational budget and second largest expenditure, so integration of a cost-effective yet efficient technology in supply chain operations in healthcare becomes a need of the time.

The RFID Technology Explained

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is an AIDC tool that has the capability to automatically identify and capture data from RFID tagged items. The technology uses radio frequency signals to communicate between an RFID reader and an RFID tag, two of the most important components of RFID. It also uses an antenna which is often integrated with the tag itself. What makes RFID efficient is the fact that an RFID reader doesn’t need a clear line of sight to read upcoming RF signals from an RFID tag nearby.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology is widely available and efficient enough to solve complex challenges healthcare supply chain faces at present. Moreover, it is relatively easy to integrate into the healthcare supply chain. Large scale implementation of RFID in giant retail business like Wal-Mart, H&M, and Zara, etc. has helped to bring down the costs of RFID tags and RFID readers over past few years. In fact, Wal-Mart realized the huge potential of RFID way back in January, 2005 and gave it a shot. But that did not worked out as Wal-Mart believed. Again in September, 2022 Wal-Mart started using RFID and made it mandatory for suppliers to tag supply boxes with RFID tags.

 Around one and half decade ago, it was the general view that RFID implementation costs are too high and even though the future of RFID looks promising, it would be a poor use of resources to tag any item which has the cost lower than 15 USD as the costs and ROI were too high to use RFID but over the last decade the passive UHF RFID tag costs have come down severely, about 4-5 cents if you get it in bulk. This factor alone has boosted the demand for RFID implementation as an AIDC technology, at present.

RFID and Healthcare Supply Chain

Integrating radio frequency identification technology in healthcare supply chain can be very useful in terms of efficiency. RFID technology can enhance the effectiveness of supply chain management, reduce costs and improve patient safety by tracking equipment and monitoring theft prevention, distribution management and patient billing. It allows for automated stocking, accurate usage capture, compatibility with the healthcare ecosystem and in-depth data analysis.

It can be integrated into almost all areas of patient supply chain and can act as clearinghouses of information bringing more visibility on healthcare assets, be it doctors, staffs or medical instruments, etc. By providing real-time information on patients, processes and equipment, RFID technology can save time, improve quality and patient safety.

How RFID can Specifically Benefit Healthcare Supply Chain?

RFID finds many applications in healthcare value chain but its integration into healthcare supply chain can cut expenditure and reduce losses to a great extent. RFID will also provide protection against counterfeiting and fake medical instruments as genuine medical instruments supplied to any hospital can carry a unique RFID serial no. which will ensure that the hospital receives genuine products.

Apart from that, RFID will enhance the overall supply chain visibility allowing hospitals and clinics to schedule product purchase and delivery at convenience without having to maintain an inventory of their own. This will reduce the hospital expenditure tremendously.

Use of RFID in healthcare supply chain enables a higher degree of information flow allowing data backed decisions. Supply chain companies and healthcare sector can team up and remove major supply chain bottlenecks and ensure faster healthcare services to the needy.

It’s obvious by now that healthcare should also follow retail businesses and implement RFID technology for better supply chain and timely delivery. The RFID implementation costs have come down heavily and it is likely that RFID reader and tag prices will come down further. RFID technology brings more visibility, ensures timely delivery and prevents counterfeiting.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on May 02, 2023

Get Free RFID System Consultation.

Scan the QR code
Click to chat here