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Thursday, 30 August 2012 07:33

RFID In Health Care

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Hospitals and the medical care industry in general are adopting asset tracking technology to track equipment, to track patients including baby tracking, to track staff, and to ensure patient’s receive the correct medicines and care – all in an effort to reduce expenses and save patient’s lives. RFID technology is key in increasing these efficiencies.

Most hospitals and medical facilities start by tracking equipment. We’re talking about tracking infusion pumps, beds, wheelchairs, heart monitors, and larger pieces of equipment that are absolutely critical to the efficient work flow of the orginization.

Since healthcare facilities invest such large amounts of capital in equipment, it is critical that the equipment is available when required; otherwise, staff waste time searching the facility to find the equipment they need, or the institution acquires additional equipment to compensate for constantly misplaced equipment, or, in the worst case, patient health is compromised.

RFID solutions can resolve these issues. The RFID solution may be as simple as simple as attaching an RFID tag or transponder to each piece of equipment and strategically locating readers throughout the area of operations where the hardware is used. In this way, any device or patient can be located anywhere in the facility. The result: less time wasted, better utilization of existing assets and improved patient care.

There are three primary components to RFID technology; the RFID reader or interrogator unit (that includes an antenna and transceiver), the RFID tag or transponder (a.k.a. transponder) which is attached to the item being tracked and middleware software that communicates with existing enterprise systems. When the reader sends a signal using a specific predetermined frequency, the tag comes to life and sends back information to the receiver and, in essence, allows the two items to communicate.

There are two primary categories of RFID tags or transponder: passive tags and active tags

  • A Passive RFID tag does not contain a power source. The tag is powered by the reader— by way of a magnetic coil within it which is activated when the reader calls to the tag, energizes the coil and in turn activates the circuits that hold the preprogrammed information in its memory
  • An Active RFID tag has a battery source that powers the tag and its antenna.

A variety of factors will impact the decision to utilize a specific tag type. These include environmental conditions, application purpose, and the degree of accuracy required when locating an item or person.

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