RFID and the healthcare industry

It’s this sector which stands to benefit most from RFID in the months to come. If you follow this technology quite well then you might have guessed it right that I am talking about the healthcare sector which is using RFID to improve upon its services. As per the latest report RFID which commands market worth $300 million of the US healthcare would witness a solid growth over the next five years. By 2010 it is expected to cross the figures of $1 billion and around $3.1 billion by 2012. That’s one of the fastest growth achieved in any sector by RFID.

You must be wondering what it is that is causing RFID to move so well in the area of healthcare. RFID will be increasingly used in the healthcare sector for tracking patients and hospital assets coupled with prevention of drug counterfeiting. Problems with regards to infrastructure interoperability, scalability and costs issues will be solved pretty soon and that will surely increase the implementation of RFID in the healthcare sector.

RFID is being used to track the health of patients so that better and timely healthcare services can be offered to them. RFID is being used to track elderly, patients with serious medical problems, expecting mothers and the list goes on. Companies are even working on a prototype where it will be possible to check sugar levels without pricking needles to diabetes patients.

RFID is expected to help the healthcare sector in the following areas such as cost control, drug trial compliance monitoring, error control in case of assets and patients, theft control and drug trial compliance monitoring. The implementation areas are expected to increase with each passing day.

RFID healthcare implementation is expected to bring down healthcare costs coupled with improved patient safety and healthcare services offered. It will automate the manual processes and at the same time track mobile assets and patients with care. One of the biggest benefits is that it can help to prevent anti counterfeiting of drugs which is known to cause losses worth billions of dollars apart from hundred and thousands of lives which spurious drugs can take. The technology is surely expected to give fake drug manufacturers a kick in their faces. Secondly hospitals stand to gain a lot from RFID which is expected to offer savings with regards to monitoring and healthcare equipments. The patient information stored could be useful for quickly getting insurance claims and might even be used for getting jobs in areas which call for mandatory health reports.

One of the biggest roadblocks which might hamper the long term implementation of healthcare is the prohibitive costs of this technology which may not ensure its whole hearted implementation in this sector but it is being said that with passage of time costs will significantly scale down and this might not be a problem forever. Till then it is expected that barcode technology will supplement RFID and offer a cost effective and efficient means of capturing data for a number of applications but let me tell you that RFID stands to gain over barcode in terms of accuracy, durability and reusability and if it falters it will only be on the cost front but this does not mean that RFID will kick out barcode rather both will complement each other and continue to offer their services to the healthcare sector.

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