Integris Health Gets RFID

The health-care provider is taking an infrastructure approach to deploying RFID.
Published: June 16, 2008

Last week, we ran an article on Integris Health‘s RFID efforts (see Integris’ Journey to RFID). Integris is the largest health-care provider in Oklahoma, and a pilot showed radio frequency identification technology could deliver $1 million in savings to one of its facilities—$7 million if the technology were extended to include its three metro facilities.

And yet, Integris has no immediate plans to go live with the deployment at any of its other facilities. The reason? Jerome R. Gardner, VP of special projects and consulting services, says he is planning for the long term.

Gardner thinks it may be near-sighted to take a quick-hit approach—at least for an organization that plans to deploy RFID on a broad scale, as Integris does. “What I am talking about is more of an enterprise, global approach,” he says. “You tag the caregivers, the patients and then all they touch or consume along their stay, and anything or anyone that comes in contact with them.”

Gardner understands that RFID is infrastructure. And rushing in with one system that delivers benefits today, and another system that delivers benefits tomorrow, could lead to a hodgepodge of systems that don’t deliver a lot of value in the long term. I discussed the need to examine RFID as infrastructure in this column a few weeks ago, in fact (see Good Strategy for a Bad Economy).

You don’t have to wait until you have a fully designed infrastructure and every application thought out before you begin investing. But you do need to anticipate the future uses of the infrastructure, and deploy something based on open standards that will allow your infrastructure to expand, adapt and accommodate new applications. This is the best way to maximize the value an RFID system can deliver, and I applaud the folks at Integris for taking such an approach.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark’s opinions, click here or here.