The VPM Blog

RFID in Healthcare: Past, Present, and Future

Posted by Melissa Cook on Mar 22, 2017 9:00:00 AM

RFID or Radio Frequency Identification, is often used synonymously with retail tracking technology. The popular tracking technology is used in all phases of the retail supply chain, but has in recent years made its way into healthcare, aerospace, defense, and various other fields. Curious? Let's start with the basics and then focus on the healthcare industry.

rfid_chip.jpgFirst a little background. The basics of RFID are simple: there is a tag, generally small, that is placed on a price tag, within a wristband, or wherever it is needed. These tags store information and when a reader is passed over them, that information is read and stored. For the supply chain, what that means is that you can place a tag on a box with 25 items inside and when the reader passes over it, it "reads" that all 25 items are within and keeps track of your inventory. RFID has similar uses within the healthcare industry, but researchers are finding new uses daily.

Even just a few years ago, you wouldn't have heard much about RFID in healthcare unless you worked for a technology company and were researching its uses. According to MedCityNews.com, in 2013 fewer than 10% of hospitals were even researching uses for the technology, much less implementing it. But those that were, were using it the same way as those in the retail supply chain were. They started placing the tags on medical supplies so that they could keep track of inventory and stop overbuying supplies. It then moved to placing the tags on certain medications so that their location and quantity could be monitored for safety and RfId's uses remained the same for a few more years.

RFID healthcare blog.jpgLet's fast forward to 2017. Hospitals across the country are implementing RFID at a faster rate. Medication and equipment are tagged, and the surgeons at the Mayo Clinic use RFID tags to indicate when they are in surgery and are not to be disturbed. Having the medication and equipment tagged allows doctors to quickly and efficiently locate the equipment and medication needed and saves them and the patients time. Not only does having the medication tagged save time during the location process, it also has drastically cut down on dosage mistakes. Since each tag contains information specific to the item, it can list side effects, dosage, and more assisting doctors and nurses alike.

So what should we expect in the future? Well, if you've been to Disney Land or Disney World lately, you've worn one of their new bracelets in the park. Remember being able to just wave your arm and unlock a door or pay for your meal? That was RFID. There are tags within the band and readers at those locations. The tags track your hotel information and store your card information for easy, contactless payments. This wristband technology is being researched and is hoped to be implemented into hospital care. Imagine you have a chronic illness and wear one of those bracelets. If you have an emergency and have to get to a hospital quickly, you'll be able to have them read the information stored in your tag and they will have access to your health records, current medications, health problems, and more. This will save you and the doctors time and energy, both vital in an emergency.

So what does all this have to do with marketing? I'm going to make an assumption and state you didn't know what RFID was before this. Do you know what that means? That means that even the healthcare industry and technology benefit from inbound marketing. All these advances are groundbreaking and will make your hospital visits more efficient and pleasant all-around. So why not promote it? 

So if you think your tech company, lab, or healthcare institute could benefit from an inbound marketing campaign, download our FREE eBook on how to run an inbound campaign:

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Topics: RFID Technology