Medical professionals for long have tried to ensure to keep patient safety at the top and with technological advancement over the last decade in the Internet of Things, this might just be possible now. Various necessities in healthcare include timely admission of patients, timely care, and administration of correct medication, along with keeping a record of medicines and medical equipment at the premises.
Think about going for minimally invasive heart surgery and coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), the last thing you need is a mix-up in procedure due to inaccurate patient record or a mix-up in medication post-surgery. Even the administration of expired medicines is an issue that is widely reported in the healthcare industry. Is there a better way to ensure patient safety and avoid such consequential outcomes?
Fortunately yes! Radio Frequency Identification is a technology that can effectively solve most of these problems with efficient management of all the distinct aspects of modern healthcare.
RFID technology is a cost-effective way, way better than barcoding, to ensure correct identification of vials, medicines, surgery kits, trays, etc. Small RFID tags and labels can be attached to vaccine vials, medical equipment, patient OPT cards, medicines, etc. to ensure that each and every patient is provided with the right medical help.
Using Radio Frequency Identification in Healthcare
RFID uses radio frequency signals to accurately identify and track assets tagged with RFID tags/labels. Over the years, RFID has developed as an IoT tool to felicitate automatic identification and data capture. The global RFID market in healthcare is rapidly growing with a CAGR of 17.85% and stands at 3.95B USD (2022).
Hospitals, biotechnology firms, and medical stores as well as big pharma companies are increasingly implementing RFID to effectively manage inventories and improve patient outcomes.
The RFID market demand in healthcare, to a great extent, is driven by the need to automate healthcare processes, allowing healthcare facilities to provide better patient care and improve patient safety while also enhancing the day-to-day operations of healthcare facilities.
Improving Patient Outcomes with RFID
As it happens, RFID has a great role to play in healthcare when it comes to patient safety and ensuring better patient outcomes. With the rise of medical-IoT (m-IoT), patient outcomes have improved significantly whether it is regular health check-ups, administering medication, or admissions. Various wearable devices can not only measure heart rate, and blood oxygen levels regularly but also share the data on your smartphones/tablets. With the help of RFID, nurses can ensure that patients get their medication in an accurate and timely manner. RFID removes the space for human errors as small RFID tags can be installed in medicine cabinets, vials, and trays to identify which medication is meant for a particular patient.
RFID Tracking Doctors and Patients
The RFID technology can also be used to keep track of patients and doctors at a healthcare facility. Most hospitals and biotechnology firms use RFID smartcards as ID cards for patients, doctors, and staff members respectively to ensure better access control and to track people on the premises. As it happens, oftentimes hospitals need to ensure the availability of doctors or need to locate a doctor or a patient, and RFID-based ID cards allow just the same.
Managing Inventory and Preventing OUT OF STOCK Scenarios
Keeping an accurate inventory of medicines, vaccines, medical gear, and surgical tools at a healthcare facility is one of the most significant tasks that if not done right can lead to catastrophic outcomes. Inventory management in hospitals and pharmacies includes keeping track of medicines and medical gear available, timely replenishments, and ensuring first in first out to prevent expiration of medicines and vaccine vials.
RFID labels can attached to vaccine vials, injections, packages, and containers and information such as expiry date, name, manufacturer’s details, etc. can be encoded in the tag. This data is also stored in RFID-based inventory management software to generate automated reports on the availability of crucial medical requirements and allow staff to place orders for these items in advance.
RFID Sensors to Ensure Safety of Vaccines and Medicines
Apart from above mentions benefits of RFID technology, RFID-based chipless RFID sensors can be used to keep tabs on temperature, humidity, etc. in cold storage facilities to ensure that vaccines and medicines don’t go bad.
Chipless RFID tags are new inexpensive RFID tags that don’t use the traditional silicon RFID microchip but use reflectors and resonators as substrates to encode data. The fabrication of these tags is rather simple and inexpensive which brings down the total cost of the RFID tag to 1 cent per tag. These tags can be used for identification purposes as well where an RFID reader can be used to interrogate these tags and to capture the encoded data for identification.
To summarize, RFID technology offers several advantages in the healthcare sector and enhanced patient outcomes are one of the many. RFID tags can ensure better managed shelving in healthcare inventories ensuring medicines and vaccines are timely utilized and timely replenished. It is a sure and cost-effective way to ensure secure access control, accurate identification of patients and medicines, and that patients are administered the right medicines, without any mix-up.