Can RFID Track Diaper Shipments for Nursing Homes?

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Ask The ExpertsCategory: QuestionsCan RFID Track Diaper Shipments for Nursing Homes?
Randolph Herzfeld asked 2 months ago
What would be the least expensive way to set up a system to track diapers from warehouse to nursing home, and then when they leave the nursing home’s supply room for use on a patient? The tracking of dispensing should be automatic and not require human intervention. Which software and tagging systems would be economical for integrating with the physical readers? And what would be an economical way to track individual diaper use each time a diaper was applied to a patient? We would need to identify the diaper’s location in a particular room.

—Randolph

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Randolph,

Tracking diaper shipments from your warehouse to a nursing home would be relatively inexpensive. You could simply place a single 10-cent RFID label on each carton of diapers and set up readers at the shipping and receiving points. To track individual diapers to particular patients, however, would require the tagging of each individual diaper. You’d have to put the diapers into a shipping container of some kind and install readers at the shipping and receiving points, as well as in the supply room and near each patient’s bed. If each patient has his or her own room, you could mount the reader above each room’s entrance.

Tags for millions of individual diapers would likely cost about 7 cents each (lower volumes for tagging plastic bins of diapers would mean a higher tag cost, which is why I said 10 cents in the first paragraph). Each reader, deployed at your shipping area, at the receiving area, in the supply room and at each patient bed or room, would cost $2,000 to $5,000 installed, and you would need software. There are companies such as  Portable Technology Solutions that offer reasonably priced software, but you would need to consider getting approval from the nursing homes, and there may be privacy issues raised by patients and/or their families, who might be concerned that you are tracking the patients along with the diapers.

I don’t know your business model, but unless there is a significant price for each diaper and you are missing many uses and thus losing a lot of money, it does not seem to me that the benefits of RFID-tagging diapers would deliver a return on your investment.

Mark Roberti
Founder and Editor
RFID Journal

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