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RFID in Healthcare: Enabling Patient Safety

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RFIDEssentially, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems collect information about physical objects automatically. Because information about tagged objects can be transmitted for multiple objects simultaneously through physical barriers and from a distance, RFID has an advantage compared to reading barcodes that require ‘line-of-sight’ and active user interaction to access the enclosed information. RFID systems exist of three main parts: (1) the tag, which is the identification device attached to the object being tracked, (2) the reader that recognises the presence of a tag and reads and processes the information which is stored on the tag and (3) the antenna, which is part of the communication between tag and reader.

This article from the Asian Hospital & Healthcare Management magazine the application of RFID in Healthcare for Enabling Patient Safety.

With the size and costs of RFID tags decreasing, their incorporation in surgical sponges, endoscopic capsules and endotracheal tubes is creating potential benefits in patient safety and diagnostics.

Applications that facilitate logistics and inventory management of expensive medical equipment appear particularly promising in the healthcare industry. And because the size and costs of RFID tags are decreasing; their small size permits incorporation in surgical sponges, endoscopic capsules and endotracheal tubes with potential benefits in patient safety and diagnostics.

RFID 

Tags are also called transponders and basically exist of three types. First, passive tags do not have a battery and derive their power from the radio frequency signal broadcasted by the reader in order to be able to transmit their data. Second, active tags have a battery and a transmitter, and do not rely on the power derived from the reader to operate. Third, semi-active (or semi-passive) tags have a battery and use the radio frequency signal broadcasted by the antenna to be activated in order to communicate. Semi-active tags can also contain sensors (i.e. temperature or humidity) that can be used as data-loggers. The tag ‘wakes up’ at pre-defined times to update the data collected by the sensor. Activation by an antenna is not required.

RFID systems operate at frequencies ranging from low frequency (LF) at 125 kHz to microwave at 2.45 GHz. The latest one is also known as the technology used for Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN). Lower frequencies are able to penetrate through materials, while better and higher frequencies can process more data. Based on these and other characteristics like the risk of electromagnetic interference or the object of interest, the most suitable RFID system can be applied. In order to track patients or medical equipment through your facility, an active or semi-active RFID system could be appropriate. For inventory control or blood product patient matching at the Operating Room (OR) a passive RFID system might be sufficient. In the pilot, a semi-active RFID tag with a temperature sensor was used for tracking blood products.

The Article also discusses a large scale pilot for the application of RFID at the AMC in Amsterdam that was carried out at the Operating Rooms, the Intensive Care Units (ICU) and Blood transfusion laboratory.

They concluded that RFID can provide tangible benefits in the healthcare industry especially when it comes to:

• Establishing safe working environments for patients and physicians
• Improving workflow and logistic processes by tracking and tracing of patients, physicians, blood products, equipment and so on
• Providing patientovative applications of mature technologies, based on platforms of proven quality ands and their relatives with better services in order to support this, inn reliability are already realised.

 Further information can be found here http://www.asianhhm.com/health_IT/rfid_patientsafety.htm

 

 

Last Updated ( Monday, 14 April 2008 00:47 )  

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