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What Is the Cost of an RFID System for a Large Hospital?

Posted By RFID Journal, 05.19.2014

Would such a deployment be expensive?

—Name withheld


I presume that you are referring to an active RFID-based real-time location system (RTLS). It would be difficult to answer, however, as I am unsure what you mean by "a large hospital." In general, I would say that the cost of an RTLS for tracking equipment, patients and perhaps personnel would depend on the coverage area involved, as well as the number of assets tagged and the business model of the RTLS provider. If you have 1,000,000 square feet to cover, it would be cheaper to do so if your building is a 25-story square or rectangular structure with an open floor plan than if you have several buildings or many different wings. That's because a complex layout would require more RFID readers to ensure complete coverage of the facility.

Many hospitals are utilizing Wi-FI-based RTLS solutions. This saves money by leveraging an existing Wi-Fi network, though you often need to add additional access points to ensure location accuracy and good coverage facility-wide.

A bigger factor is the number of assets you wish to tag. Active tags cost about $50 apiece, so if you are tagging 1,000 items, you would spend $50,000. If you have 10,000 assets to tag, the cost would be $500,000. Many hospitals start out tagging a few asset categories that they believe would provide the greatest savings. By increasing asset-utilization rates, they can then reduce their capital expenditures on replacing these assets, freeing up funds to buy additional tags.

The cost would also depend on whether you were to buy a system outright or pay on a per-tag basis. Some RTLS providers will install a solution for a fee, and then charge an annual fee per tag, sometimes in conjunction with a per-seat software license. The benefit to this approach is that you would not have to lay out a large sum to start, and the fees paid would be operational expenses, rather than a capital expenditure.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal


James E. Heurich 2014-05-21 10:40:52 AM
I'm not providing answers as this not being a market with which I am very familiar, yet am adding to the discussion. In casual conversations with others in the market, it is my understanding that the software part of a WiFi based Tag system is the most expensive. I've heard numbers ranging from $60k to $80k for your average sized hospital, and I'm sure there's an annual software cost as well. I'm sitting in a hospital right now staring at a WiFi based Tag and by golly I'm going to go downstairs and find someone in management here who can provide some more answers. You've never known me to be shy. I'll get back to you Mark.
Mark Roberti 2014-05-21 04:59:51 PM
Thanks, James. Let us know what you find out. Mark

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