In recent years, the healthcare industry has witnessed a significant transformation due to technological advancements. Use of Internet of things (IoT) has given rise to a new dimension of IoT known as Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). From various IoT based sensors to RFID labels and RFID sensors in healthcare, the contribution of technology in healthcare and healthcare supply chain is enormous. The implementation of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in smart labeling, which has revolutionized the way healthcare organizations manage patient care, asset tracking, and inventory management is something that needs to be talked about more often.
The global healthcare RFID market size is at 5.49 billion USD in 2023 and is expected to reach 22.72 billion USD by 2032, growing at CAGR of 17.01% over the forecast period, 2023 to 2032, according to a report by Precedence Research. This unprecedented growth in RFID market in healthcare is testament to the value and efficiency RFID promises in patient care and smart healthcare supply chain management.
RFID Technology: An Overview
RFID technology is an AIDC technology which utilizes radio waves to identify and track objects in real-time automatically. AIDC basically means Automatic Identification and Data Capture. It consists of RFID tags, RFID readers, and a computer software system or a backend system.
When using RFID in smart labeling applications, RFID labels/tags are attached to items that we need to track and trace. The RFID tag is written with a unique identifier and stores information about the labeled item. The RFID reader is used to wirelessly communicate with the tags, capturing data and sending it to the backend system for analysis and recording.
When an RFID labeled item (smart labeling) is within the read-zone of an RFID Reader, the reader sends a wireless RF (Radio Frequency) signal which is captured by the tag antenna. In case of a Passive UHF RFID tag, the antenna captures the reader signal and powers the IC inside the RFID tag. The RFID tag then sends a stronger signal which also contains the tag data. The reader captures this information with the help of another antenna (integrated or additionally deployed) and decodes it and displays/records it for the end users.
Now that we know what RFID technology is, let’s delve into the key features and benefits of RFID-based smart labeling in the healthcare industry.
Enhancing Patient Safety and Care with RFID Smart Labeling
RFID-based smart labeling plays a vital role in improving patient safety and care. RFID tags with unique IDs can be attached to patients allowing healthcare provider to accurately track their movement within the facility, ensuring timely administration of medication, monitoring vital signs, and minimizing the risk of human error. RFID-enabled tags can provide critical patient information such as medical history, allergies, and prescribed treatments, allowing healthcare professionals to make informed decisions swiftly in critical situations which could be lifesaving.
RFID Smart Labeling for Efficient Asset Tracking
In healthcare settings, tracking and managing assets such as medical equipment, devices, and supplies are crucial for smooth operations. Pharmaceuticals and blood samples can be labeled with RFID and traced throughput the hospital ensuring patients get the right diagnosis and medication without fail.
With RFID-based smart labeling, healthcare organizations can engineer accuracy into their operations and easily locate and monitor the status of their assets. RFID tags can be affixed to equipments as well, ensuring their seamless identification and reducing the time wasted searching for misplaced items. It improves asset utilization, reduces equipment loss, and lowers costs for hospital as well as patients.
Streamlined Inventory Management with RFID Smart Labels
Inventory management in healthcare facilities is a complex process due to the vast array of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. RFID-based smart labeling simplifies this task by providing real-time visibility and accurate inventory data.
When RFID labels are embedded in packaging or attached to individual medical products, healthcare providers including doctors and nurses can effortlessly track stock levels, expiration dates, and use the product before it expires. Hospitals can automatically trigger reordering when supplies are running low to ensure accurate inventory levels all the time. Subsequently, this optimizes supply chain management in healthcare, reduces waste, and eliminates stockouts.
Smart cabinets are also created to ensure emergency inventory which automatically updates stock levels.
Effective Patient Tracking and Management using RFID Smart Labels
During a healthcare emergency or large-scale medical event, RFID-based smart labeling has proven invaluable in patient tracking and management. Unique RFIDs for patients and staff allow healthcare providers to instantly identify individuals, track their location within the facility, and ensure the seamless flow of communication and care coordination. It has also enabled remote patient care for old patients that cannot visit hospitals very often by implementing various RFID and IoT sensors.
Smart labeling is just one example of how RFID technology is benefitting the healthcare industry. From patient tracking, patient care to healthcare supply chain and inventory management, RFID technology is proving to be game changer for medical industry. Apart from RFID smart labels, RFID sensors are also available that can be used to track and monitor vaccine vials, their storage temperature and humidity during transportation as well as stock levels, which in most cases proves to be lifesaving.
With advancements in RFID and IoT technologies each passing day, the future of healthcare is quite promising when it comes to precision care and lifesaving operations and timely delivery of critical care to patients, even in remote areas.
- Last updated on Aug 07, 2023