And does this present a huge obstacle to the technology’s adoption?
The latest problem is that people keep getting sick. No, seriously, I’m not sure that there is a problem. Passive high-frequency (HF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) systems are delivering tremendous value in helping hospitals better manage their inventories of stents and other implantable devices. Passive RFID is helping ensure that sponges are not left behind in patients during surgery, and that drugs are tracked properly, and is also being used for many other applications. Furthermore, active RFID-based real-time location systems (RTLS) are accurately tracking the locations of expensive equipment, such as oxygen pumps and gurneys.
I think the biggest issue facing hospitals that want to deploy an RFD system is whether to begin with an RTLS or a passive system for tracking small but expensive items. Both deliver great value, but it can be challenging to deploy both systems at the same time. On the active side, there is no widely agreed upon standard, so hospitals must decide whether to utilize Wi-Fi tags, ZigBee-based tags, Dash-7 tags or proprietary systems, including ultrasound. This creates some risk, since no hospital wants to choose a solution and then find out, three or four years later, that other hospitals are moving toward a different technology.
I don’t believe this last issue presents a huge obstacle to adoption, however, since most hospitals will achieve a return on their investment within two or three years. So even if they have to replace the technology in five or eight years, the system will have already paid for itself.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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