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Health Care

RFID has three primary uses in the medical field: tracking equipment, tracking patients, and tracking staff.

 

Tracking expensive medical machines by way of RFID systems in hospitals has tremendous advantages. Medical equipment that has historically been forgotten in storage is now tagged with RFID and easily found when needed. Hospitals have been able to cut the number of pieces of equipment they need to keep on hand, because each piece can be found when needed. Additionally, the number of staff needed to scour hospitals for lost or misplaced equipment can drop significantly, resulting in significant payroll savings.

The second benefit of RFID in the medical field is to track and monitor patients. At this point in development, RFID is used to control and monitor patient location, to control and document medication administration, and to monitor patient/staff interaction time. However, there is much more that can be done with RFID to further improve patient safety. In the future, it is expected that hospitals will seek to prevent falls by monitoring patients as they get in and out of bed.

Billing in hospitals is substantially based on the interactions between staff and patients and the resultant services provided. RFID Technology allows hospitals to closely monitor these interactions and to bill more accurately. In addition, RFID can track patient admission, discharge, and transportation. Such tracking allows the facility to maximize bed space at any given moment. By tracking patients more closely, hospitals can maximize billing and ultimately increase net profit.

The final application of RFID in hospitals is in tracking and monitoring staff. Called the “Nurse Nanny” by some, RFID systems help hospitals control staff costs and on-the-clock time. In addition, the systems can track how much time staff members are actually spending with their patients, versus doing paperwork or other non-patient-interaction work. From a quality-control perspective, this is important information for hospitals to have, in order to compete most effectively with other hospitals.

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