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RFID Medical Cabinets Evaluated in New Benchmark

RFID solutions provider ODIN technologies today released the tenth in its series of RFID hardware benchmarks. Entitled , this one addresses the burgeoning market for RFID medical cabinets and shares the results of performance analysis ODIN conducted on three particular products.
Sep 12, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

September 12, 2007—RFID solutions provider ODIN technologies of Dulles, Virginia, today released the tenth in its series of RFID hardware benchmarks. Entitled The RFID Medical Smart-Cabinet Benchmark, this one addresses the burgeoning market for RFID medical cabinets and shares the results of performance analysis ODIN conducted on three particular products.

RFID smart cabinets provide real-time visibility of the tagged contents within them, enabling hospitals or other healthcare facilities to track and trace their inventories of medical devices, test samples, pharmaceuticals, and other assets.

"This benchmark was triggered by a number of our pharmaceutical clients trying to better manage their inventory and supplies," Diana Hage, who leads ODIN's professional service and operations organization, told RFID Update. "We had been asked by them about the best performing RFID cabinet solution on the market."

As it turns out, there are not that many productized smart cabinet solutions available. ODIN uncovered about 20 firms with varying solutions, but many offered only custom-built cabinets or prototypes designed on a case by case basis. ODIN's goal was to feature only "off-the-shelf" solutions that are commercially available in production quantities. That narrowed down the field to three: Mobile Aspects, TAGSYS RFID, and Terso Solutions, Inc. "All three have standard configurations," explained Hage. "Each has product literature, and you can pick up the phone and order it."

In addition, all three have been sold between 100 and 400 times. While that might not seem like a large amount, the $25,000 average price tag makes it clear that they represent major purchases for the hospitals and universities that typically buy them. "There is a definite expense that comes along with these products, but they are solving very particular applications and use cases, so there is a lot of efficiency and value that they drive."

Hage cited three leading reasons why smart cabinet customers purchase the technology. The first is to ensure patient safety, by getting the right drug to the right patient in the right quantity. The second is to improve billing efficiency and inventory management. And the last is to minimize the time-consuming and error-prone manual labor involved in documenting drug storage and dispensing. "These organizations are looking for automated ways to administratively track what they've got and what's been dispensed," commented Hage.

Overall, the three evaluated cabinets performed well. "They're all ready for primetime," she affirmed. "They all have more than adequate performance."

She explained that all three have been designed with a slightly different application or buyer in mind, meaning each offers unique strengths. "Each one of these RFID smart cabinet vendors has picked a niche in the marketplace and is servicing it very well," Hage said. "Each cabinet has a sweet spot."

There are two standard form factors to them: the "short and stocky" shape roughly the size of a dormitory room refrigerator, and the narrower, six-foot-high "tall and skinny" shape. Two of the products use 13.56 MHz (HF) RFID technology, while the third uses 2.45 GHz (microwave).

Hage acknowledged that the market for RFID smart cabinets is early yet, but she predicted strong growth in the years ahead. "It's an early stage market, but one that seems to be attracting a great deal of attention," she said. "You've started to see some big players go after this marketplace, but they're not yet manufacturing products in volume." She cited the recently announced blood bank solution deployed in Malaysia by Intel and Siemens (see Intel & Siemens Launch RFID Blood Bank in Malaysia). "With this benchmark, we wanted to get ahead of the growth curve and look at the early adopters."

Read the announcement from ODIN technologies
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