What are some recent trends and challenges in this industry?
The biggest trend, by far, is toward adopting active RFID technologies to better track and manage hospital equipment, such as wheelchairs, gurneys, oxygen pumps, pulse oximeters and many other devices. This increases asset utilization, thereby reducing the need to purchase or rent equipment.
We have also seen hospitals move toward using RFID to track gowns, ensure that hand-washing rules are followed and make sure that all sponges are removed from a patient during an operation. In addition, there are some facilities that are tracking patients for their own safety, as well as for that of staff members.
The challenges I see are twofold: First, hospitals are having a hard time choosing which technology to use to track assets. Some are employing Zigbee-based systems, others Wi-Fi, and still others proprietary systems. Hospitals don't want to choose a Wi-Fi system, for example, and then find out, a few years later, that all other medical centers are using Zigbee, or vice versa. So they are reluctant to commit until a clear standard emerges.
The other challenge that I see involves a shortage of funding. Hospitals' budgets are under pressure in many countries, and finding the money to invest in an RFID-based real-time location system (RTLS) can be a challenge, even if you know it will save you money in the years ahead.
Here are some stories that you might find interesting:
• Harmon Hospital Implements RFID to Track Assets
• Washington University Researchers Seek to Bring Mobility to ICU Patients
• Brigham and Women's Hospital Becomes Totally RTLS-enabled
• ORLocate RFID-enabled System for Surgical Sponges and Instruments Gets FDA Clearance
• Siemens Launches RFID Pilot to Track Surgical Sponges, Procedures
• RFID-enabled Surgical Sponges a Step Closer to OR
• Surgical Sponges Get Smart
• Medline Markets RF System for Surgical Sponges
• Hospital Tries ZigBee to Track Patients
• Testing Ultrasound to Track, Monitor Patients
• HCA North Florida Expands Its RTLS to Track Patients
• RFID Helps Cabueñes Hospital Monitor Patients, Accelerate Treatment
• At Wayne Memorial, RFID Pays for Itself
• Hospitals Use RFID to Track Temperatures, Assets and Patients
• N.C. Hospital Looks to RadarFind to Improve Asset Visibility
• PinnacleHealth Pushes Ahead With RFID
• What Are the Basic Applications of RFID for Health Care?
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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