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Smart Labeling Applications for the Health-Care Industry

Let's explore two high-value applications for smart labeling in the health-care industry: authentication and inventory management.
By Marsha Frydrychowski
Feb 20, 2019

The global radio frequency identification (RFID) market for health care is expanding at a double-digit rate—and by 2022, it's estimated to be worth $4.9 billion, according to Grand View Research. This explosive growth stems back to the value and efficiency RFID promises to bring to health-care organizations and the added level of security and safety it promises to bring to patients.

RFID technology—a broad category encompassing many types of smart labels—has potentially limitless applications for driving accuracy and value for the health-care industry. As hospitals, labs and entire supply chains adopt RFID technologies, they become smarter. They are able to track and trace every blood sample or pallet of medication. They have real-time visibility into inventory. They're able to monitor the temperature of heat-sensitive drugs throughout the supply chain. In the end, smart labeling provides another layer of visibility, efficiency and, ultimately, patient safety to the health-care industry.

Examining the Value of Smart Labeling in Hospitals
Let's explore two ways in which RFID labeling can drive value for hospitals, as they represent a great microcosm of the health-care industry as a whole, with diagnostic testing, movement of samples and pharmaceuticals, medication dispensing and patient care all happening under one roof. And each of these ways could benefit the entire health-care industry—every health-care organization, from diagnostics labs to primary care offices to the pharmaceutical supply chain, could benefit from end-to-end traceability, improved productivity and better inventory management.

Authentication of Pharmaceuticals and Samples
Nearly 200,000 patients die in hospitals per year due to medical errors, which could potentially be prevented through more accurate, secure authentication processes. RFID could be the life-saving answer that hospitals are looking for, engineering accuracy into their processes. Smart label technology can be used to track and trace pharmaceuticals and blood samples throughout the hospital to ensure that every patient receives the right diagnosis and the right medication, without fail.

Each RFID tag has a unique identification number, which is assigned to a particular product and input into the hospital's database—and is far more difficult to duplicate than a bar code. And because some RFID tags can be read as quickly as on 700 products per second, accuracy does not come at the price of productivity.

When all medications are RFID-tagged, a nurse or doctor can quickly read a particular tag, verify the authenticity of the product to which it is attached and determine whether it's being dispensed to the right patient. Beyond the primary goal of preventing patient harm, secure RFID authentication is also an effective way of fighting the widespread counterfeit drug problem.

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