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Finding Needles in a Haystack

A new report about hospitals' adoption of real-time location systems illustrates the challenges faced by RFID solution providers.
By Mark Roberti
Sep 22, 2013

For the past few years, I have been advising radio frequency identification technology providers that in order to be successful, they must focus on the few companies and organizations that will adopt RFID in the near future, and not on the many others that will not. Still, marketers are seduced by numbers. Attend an RFID event, and you'll meet only a few dozen potential users in any single industry. Go to a vertical industry event, on the other hand, and you'll meet a few thousand. The thing is, the few dozen at the RFID conference are there because they want to deploy the technology soon, while those at the vertical event have no plans to do so.

The response I get is always polite, but I know what the solution provider is thinking: "You are just saying that because you want me to exhibit at an RFID Journal event." And yes, I do… but my suggestion also happens to be good advice. A recent article published by Healthcare IT News, titled "RFID and RTLS getting 'dominated' by MU," backs me up.

The story sites data from HIMSS Analytics, a research division of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), which reveals that 92.84 percent of hospitals do not have a real-time location system (RTLS) for tracking hospital equipment "and don't plan to; just 0.56 percent are thinking of trying it out."

It astonishes me that so few hospitals—I believe the data covers just the United States, but that is not explicitly stated in the article—are interested in deploying RTLS solutions, given that we have published many articles over the years regarding hospitals that have achieved significant benefits with such solutions. According to the Healthcare IT News article, hospitals are instead investing in "meaningful use" technology projects that qualify for federal funding.

Now, I could argue that RTLS technology should qualify for meaningful use funds, but that's another opinion column entirely. The point is, how do you find the 0.56 percent of hospitals interested in deploying an RTLS solution? I'll tell you what I would do if I were selling the technology to hospitals—and the same approach would also work for companies selling RFID systems for retail, manufacturing, waste management or any other sector.

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