How Can RFID Be Affordable in Health Care?

By RFID Journal

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And how quickly would a real-time location system pay for itself?

—Name withheld

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"Affordable" is defined as that which is within one's financial means. An RFID system could cost as little as a few thousand dollars to a million or more, depending on the particular application and the facility's size. One way in which the technology can be affordable is to focus on applications that can be paid for out of the operational budget.

Hospitals can also deploy systems with a phased approach. If a facility has four wings, it could implement an RFID-based real-time location system (RTLS) in just one wing. As that solution increases asset-utilization rates and saves on capital expenditures for new equipment, the savings could be applied to extending the system to another wing.

There is a downside to this approach, however. RTLS solutions work best when an entire facility is covered. That's because if a tagged item leaves the wing with the RTLS, visibility is lost and people lose confidence in the system.

An RTLS might pay for itself within three years. After that, the hospital saves more than it spent on the solution, so it can be worth borrowing to pay for the system.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal