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RFID in Health Care 2008 Report

A total of 175 professionals gathered in Las Vegas in January to attend RFID Journal's first annual RFID in Health Care conference. View the presentations from the event.
Feb 25, 2008RFID in Health Care 2008, RFID Journal's first annual conference and exhibition for health-care professionals, was held at The Westin Casuarina in Las Vegas, on Jan. 23. A total of 175 attendees gathered at the inaugural event, and speaker presentations are now available on the event Web site (see final page for downloading instructions).

This conference, colocated with World Congress' Healthcare Supply Chain Management Summit, was designed to provide education about how hospitals across North America are achieving benefits from using RFID technologies to monitor patients and assets, as well as automatically collect information and reduce medical errors. Such benefits include improving patient outcomes and attaining a financial return on investment.

During this one-day event, end users—including hospitals, government agencies and health-care providers—revealed how they have employed RFID and Electronic Product Code (EPC) technologies to cut costs, streamline operational efficiencies and improve patient care. What's more, industry leaders offered insights into how to move from one-off applications to an infrastructure approach to radio frequency identification.

Harold Boeck, a professor of marketing and academic founder of Academia RFID, a Montreal-based training, research development and consulting center, provided a foundational overview of the basics of RFID and EPC technologies for health-care professionals. Boeck explained the differences between various classes of tags, both active and passive, and highlighted the need for additional IT systems to build upon RFID in real-world applications. He also explored the EPCglobal network, standards established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and major applications of RFID technology. In January of this year, Academia RFID announced an RFID certification program for operation managers, engineers, directors, RFID consultants, IT directors and system integrators, focused on business-problem solving, process reengineering, implementation and scalability (see RFID News Roundup: Academia RFID Launches New Certification Program).

John Keogh, director of RFID and supply chain solutions for Hewlett-Packard Canada (HP Canada), explored the benefits and potential of RFID technology in the health-care industry for improving business and health outcomes. In addition, Keogh detailed a digital hospital solution implemented at Norway's St. Olav's Hospital to integrate people, processes and technologies.

Dr. Ann Cavoukian, information and privacy commissioner for the Government of Ontario, and Victor Garcia, CTO of Canada for Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), offered insight into how end users can address RFID privacy issues in the health-care industry. The presenters discussed the privacy implications of using RFID, as well as whether it is acceptable to tag and track patients, whether the benefits outweigh the costs, and how to address privacy concerns while realizing the benefits of RFID technology. Last month, Dr. Cavoukian and HP Canada released a joint white paper ("RFID and Privacy: Guidance for Health-Care Providers") intended to provide health-care organizations with guidelines for using RFID while keeping a patient's privacy intact (see RFID News Roundup: Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Offers Guidance for RFID Health-Care Applications).
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