Modern healthcare can benefit from the use of Radio Frequency Identification technology. RFID works through a combination of data chips and connecting handheld devices that can be used to scan them and exchange data. Storage can be significant, with RFID able to collect extensive records on individual assets. RFID is frequently used in logistics to help identify assets, and to monitor their movement from location to location. In terms of modern healthcare, it is this accuracy and ability to better reduce losses that can make RFID particularly useful for improving efficiency in hospitals and pharmacies. Some of the key benefits of using RFID in modern healthcare consequently include:
1 – Tracking Equipment and Assets
RFID tags make it much to keep track of expensive equipment and tools around a hospital, and can also be used to monitor the position of drugs and sensitive information. Having this database to hand, and making it easier to search and compile results in enhanced security, and helps to monitor where items are sent once they leave a location. RFID works in this way to help with any office moves, as well as any large scale upgrading and repair of expensive equipment that might involve it having to be transported, or temporarily stored during a period of refurbishment on a ward.
2 – Identifying Patients
Chips can be used on patient tags to help nurses and doctors to instantly call up patient histories and recent treatments. This information can help to speed up daily rounds in a hospital, and can help to reduce errors and lost paperwork. Tagging systems can also be designed to only be activated through handsets, rather than being set off remotely by other scanners. Other applications for patients include being able to tag babies in maternity wards.
3 – General Security
RFID can be combined with biometric cards to help identify members of staff, and to check who is leaving and entering different wards, and who is handling sensitive drugs or data. The benefits of doing this are significant, as they mean that patient confidentiality becomes much higher, and that financial losses incurred as the result of theft are reduced. A better framework for tracking assets similarly means that pharmacies are able to keep better track of their inventories.
4 – Warehousing
RFID has a wider application to warehouses for drugs and other medical supplies. Deliveries can be made faster through quicker identification, while stock can be efficiently managed to make sure that defunct or damaged items do not get accidentally sent out to services. In this way, RFID can be combined with voice identification software and automated processes within a warehouse to ensure that an extra layer of accountability is provided.
The ultimate benefits for doing so are therefore to increase the flow and security of medical assets, while increasing the confidentiality and detail of care for patients. However, it is important to seek consent on the information being stored, and to check that proper encryption and access points are established to make sure that confidential information is not accidentally leaked.