RFID Tech 101: Patient-Centric 3PL?

Hospital/healthcare tech is one of this year's hottest (decade's hottest?) IT areas (thank you, Captain Obvious).

Let's blow right by EMRs, EHRs, PHRs, etc., the testing/implementation of which (or lack thereof) is being relayed play-by-play in the H/HC blogosphere, to RFID tagging.

My knowledge of the topic is limited, but I'll take a stab at the most basic implications/useage in our field to get the conversation going.

RFID (radio frequency ID), which can be either passive or active based on the types of tags and readers, as well as the presence/lack of an internal power source (RFID Journal, www.rfidjournal.com , is my go-to source for up to date sector developments), can revolutionize throughput and output, if only hospital systems would work in CONCERT with tech companies to generate working prototypes. Problem is, we need design collaboration from the ground up, rather than REDESIGN of existing systems built to track products.

The difficulty lies in the fact that RFID tags were created as 'smart bar codes' largely for applications in the DOD/3PL/retail supply chains (including some interesting human/animal implantation programs), and we don't tend to think of our patients as inanimate chess pieces moving from factory floor to truck to warehouse to truck to store to kitchen cabinet. Or do we? What an interesting metaphor for IP surgical flow modeling...

The market opportunity here is huge. Imagine, 6,300 facilities on the AHAs latest membership rolls alone. Perhaps 50 are exploring RFID use, maybe 20 have actually implemented tags to track 'hard' capital (supplies, equipment) or 'soft' capital (patients, staff). Please, if my numbers are off, someone post a comment with correct numbers.

So let's kick off the week with two recent H/HC RFID applications.

Heart Hospital Baylor Plano an honorable mention that opened its doors in January, will start us off on the right foot. More...

Although HHBP's deployment isn't the most innovative use of RFID tech in the hospital setting, it's a good 'starting' point for acute care facilities to test pilot RFID programs tracking supplies and equipment. In addition, HHBPs overall design and amenities are well worth a look (concierge staff offices on each floor? and I WONDERED how long it would be before we saw hospitals adopting more hospitality industry best practices).

For those hospitals who want to track patients, on the other hand - we jump across the country to Lehigh Valley Hospital where RFID tags are being used to track OR patient throughput.

More on RFID later...

1 comment:

-N said...

RFID is a new technology which will slowly but surely evolve the health care industry.
Everyone should keep an eye on this. Walmart is the big beast who's working on making this technology deployable.
There are several start-up companies working in RFID field.
One such company is