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Healthcare, Pharma Industries to Increase RFID Spending

Market research from Kalorama Information predicts the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries will significantly increase their investments in RFID technology in the next five years. RFID sales for 2008 are valued at $474 million in healthcare and $70 million in pharmaceutical.
Nov 10, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

November 10, 2008—The healthcare and pharmaceutical industries will increase their spending on RFID systems dramatically over the next five years, according to a report from Kalorama Information, a research firm with offices in New York and Maryland. Kalorama's Bruce Carlson recently told RFID Update the firm projects the healthcare industry will increase its RFID spending from $474 million in 2008 to $3.1 billion in 2013, when the market will be 6.5 times larger than the current one. Pharmaceutical spending is expected to grow from $70 million to $600 million in the same period, making it 8.6 times larger than today.

The data was produced as part of a larger report Kalorama prepared on opportunities for various wireless technologies in the healthcare and pharmaceutical markets.

One of the most promising applications Carlson cited for healthcare is to improve patient charge capture, which has not traditionally received much attention from RFID solution providers.

"With a fully implemented RFID system, you can have a patient who goes through various points at the hospital, and staff can 'wand' the patient who is wearing an RFID tag at each station rather than make a manual entry, and then each billable action a patient goes through can go to finances," Carlson said. "One hospital we looked at, University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, experienced an increase of 30 percent in billable charges using the wand system."

Pharmaceutical manufacturing holds some of the strongest potential for increased RFID adoption. "It's the industry that can put money into implementation and the need is clear and realized by the FDA," Carlson said. "There's so many benefits -- in inventory management, supply chain -- but counterfeiting seems to be a big emotional driver."

The FDA and other government bodies have promoted RFID use for drug authentication and tracking and other uses, but the FDA does not require it. For more coverage see: Carlson said the leading RFID adoption obstacles are implementation costs, especially for pharmaceutical manufacturers, and the difficulty in documenting how RFID systems will save money and provide ROI.

Kalorama is predicting hospitals will increase their IT spending and Carlson noted hospitals have not been hurt by the 2008 economic downfall. For more analysis on how macroeconomic conditions could affect the RFID industry, see last week's series: Economic Meltdown Effect on RFID: Not Now, Not Ever? and Tight Capital Could Squeeze Firms Out of RFID Industry.
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