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Why RFID should be part of your healthcare line card

March 25, 2019

Why RFID should be part of your healthcare line card
While some markets are relatively flat, the healthcare industry is booming, driven by a desire to improve patient outcomes and increase efficiencies. Research firm ReportanadReports estimates that the global healthcare IT market is expected to grow at a CAGR of nearly 16% through 2021, reaching more than $280 billion.

If you’ve carved a niche in healthcare to get a piece of this pie, chances are that barcoding technologies are part of your strategy. While barcodes and their related technologies are still very strong and play a vital role in healthcare IT, RFID is another powerful option gaining traction. In addition to real innovation in the technology itself, prices have continued to drop, making these solutions not just realistic, but worth your consideration.

Where is RFID used in healthcare?

The best way to look at RFID is from a loss prevention standpoint. There are three critical things a hospital doesn’t want to lose. RFID makes tracking all three a lot easier.

Patients and staff—Hospitals want to keep tabs on patients, especially newborn babies and people with dementia who are prone to wandering. By placing RFID tags on the patients and installing readers at critical locations (e.g., stairwells, elevators and exits) security staff can receive alerts if these patients leave areas they’re supposed to be. Employees can also wear RFID tags to simplify logging patient visits and ensuring adequate staff coverage in specific areas or floors.

Equipment—Hospital equipment is expensive, so having devices go missing is never ideal. More importantly, devices must be readily accessible if a patient is in need. Unfortunately, due to hospitals’ sprawling layout and their many rooms and closets, equipment gets misplaced often. RFID tags and gates can be used to ensure that devices don’t leave their designated areas, as well as to keep records of which employees moved them and when.

Medicine—Medicine is securely stored in the hospital’s pharmacy. Placing RFID tags on containers and gates at the pharmacy exits can increase security by ensuring medicine doesn’t leave the area.
While more expensive than traditional RFID tags and readers, real-time location systems (RTLS) solutions take the above examples to the next level. For example, staff can pinpoint not only which floor a doctor is on, but in which room. It might not be for every customer, but there’s no doubt that RTLS can be an amazingly powerful technology.

Overall, RFID solutions can reduce healthcare costs by helping hospitals track equipment and supplies, as well as improve patient outcomes by ensuring that equipment can be located when it’s needed in an emergency. To learn about the latest RFID solutions Ingram Micro is helping deliver to the healthcare market, contact Matthew Hetherington, technical account manager, business operations and transformation, for Ingram Micro.