HealthcareTomorrow

Monday, February 27, 2006

RFID

RFID - I have to write one more observation about HIMSS06. There were alot RFID companies there. I have been following RFID for a few years now and I was surprised to see so many new companies with RFID solutions. If you haven't been initiated yet, here is a brief description. Basically, the hospital tags its equipment (and people too) with RFID chips and then sensors placed throughout the facility "ping" the tags and locate the tagged object. While RFID was developed for tracking inventory, hospitals can use the technology to locate medical equipment, patients, and staff.

I really believe that this technology can lower costs and help to re-imagine the care process. All of the RFID companies have ROI analyses that show how much hospitals save from improved utilization of assets. As with a number of other technologies, I am not sure if an ROI can really capture the total value of its use. I see a great value in giving front-line healthcare providers the ability to quickly access the location of the tools they need to do their job...and in some cases, the patients they need to do their job on. RFID is one of those technologies that can actually change the care delivery processes. Instead of searching for an IV pump or wheelchair, a nurse or aide can just look it up. The time that was once wasted with manual searching can be replaced with activities that actually add value to the patient. Further, I imagine that front-line healthcare workers will feel more confident about the care that they can provide with this information at their finger tips.

As I mentioned, I have been watching this technology develop in healthcare for a number of years and it seems to be catching on. Nonetheless, RFID is still in its infancy stages in healthcare, but I was encouraged recently by the news that Eclypsis and PanGo were joining forces to integrate RFID into a clinical information system (EMR). This is an exciting partnership and it very well could be the future for hospitals. So look for RFID coming to a hospital near you.

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