How might radio frequency identification technology be used in a medical center that is switching to electronic records?
Good question. I have not heard of any hospital that has fully integrated RFID with its electronic medical records system, but I will share my thoughts—and, perhaps, those at hospitals with experience in this area might offer their ideas as well.
It seems to me that RFID could be a good bridge between the paper-based world and the new frontier of electronic medical records. It is enormously expensive to go back and digitize every piece of paper about every patient over the past 20 years, so it might make sense to pick a date after which all new medical records would be electronic. All existing records would be tagged with an RFID tag and stored as usual.
Each patient, whether active or not, would have their own electronic medical record. The file would contain a serial number and an image of a 2-D bar code that stores that number. The serial number would also be stored in the RFID tag, on that person's file folder. So all new patient records would be electronic—but instead of converting all existing records, an employee could scan the bar code on screen, or type the serial number into a handheld reader, such as Motorola's MC-3090-Z model, and then quickly locate the physical file.
Another opportunity would be to tag and monitor patients for the duration of their stay at a hospital, and to link information regarding their treatment to their electronic medical record and bill. So, for instance, if a patient were admitted for a broken bone and sent for X-rays, followed by surgery, that information would be captured automatically. If details of the charges were not entered into the system, software would alert the billing department that a patient had a procedure without any corresponding billing data being input into the system.
In this way, the system could link information input by doctors and nurses into handheld devices, to records associated with specific patients.
—Mark Roberti, Editor, RFID Journal
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