RFID System for Patient Tracking 'Literature Review' chapter

Excerpt from 'Literature Review' chapter :

There are various applications of the RFID technology in the healthcare. These are explored by a HIBCC,(2006 ) report that studies the application of the RFID technology in the healthcare setting with emphasis on its benefits, limitations as well as recommendations The report categorically pointed out that that the applications of the RFID technology in the health care settings are numerous. They range from being used in the management of the hospital's supply chain to the management of the patients themselves. In terms of the supply chain management, the RFID technology can be used in the organizing the delivery of supplies such as pacemakers, artificial limbs as well as defibrillators. This is because the supply chain of these crucial items is very complicated and requires the timely delivery of the consignments. The high degree of traceability that is needed to track the shipments from the supplier up to the time the consignment reaches the patient is another reason for adopting RFID for the management of these supplies. The report also presented the applications of the RFID technology in the management of patients. This category involved the use of the technology to in the improvement of the identification of the patients by means of wristbands. The other application of the technology according to the report includes the application in the quality assurance departments of the various hospitals. This includes the use of RFID in the process of tacking various equipment in their process of getting sterilized. The use of RFID fitted trays is an example of such an application. The trays can then be tacked by the relevant administration as they get sterilized in special department of the health facility.

Extant literature has been dedicated towards the study of the various limitations that affect the implementation of the RFID technology in various healthcare settings. A HIBCC (2006 ) report clearly outlined some of these limitations. The report stated that cost was a main hindrance to the use and implementation of the RFID systems in various health centers. This is because the RFID systems are very expensive to install and maintain. This therefore means that the process of implementing the system in large scale is enormous. The various envirnonmental conditions under which the RFID system should operate is another limitation.This is because the reliability of the tags is heavily affectedly the presence of certain unfavorable conditions such as high humidity. The RFID tags in use are not suited to function well in environments of high temperature. They are therefore not easy ti implement of devices suchas surgical items that are frequently exposed to extremely high temperature. The RFID technology also suffers from a lack of sufficient applications. This is brought about by the fact the it is not easy to use the surgical tags of on metallic surfaces or in fluids. The other limitation to the adoption of the technology is the technological incompatibility that exists in the use of the technology. There is a high level of technological incompatibility between the various RFID standards. As an illustration, it is not possible for a single reader to read from tags that operate from multiple frequencies.

ECI (2009) presented a multilevel analysis of the impact of RFID- enabled process capability as well as its impact on the performance various healthcare processes. They made use of various IT0nabled processes in the evaluation of the capabilities of various healthcare processes (Sambamurthy et al., 2003 and Rai et al., 2006).his was used in the study of the various impacts of the RFID technology in the field of healthcare. The main focus was in the inventory management which of course is also linked to the quality of services given to the patients. The perspective presented in the report included the reference of the various assets in the firm as being investments in its IT infrastructure. The report categorically pointed out the fact that several technologies are in existence to be used in the management of various aspects of the healthcare inventory. They cited an example which involves the use of a combined system having bar code system in the management of the health facility's inventory. The report however clearly pointed out that the RFID system presented a unique qualities and capabilities that were better to be embraced in the process of streamlining the various healthcare inventory management issues (Dutta et al., 2007).

Chin Lin (2009) examined the effectiveness of an RFID-enabled system in the care coordination as well as the patient flow in an ambulatory care. They found that the use of the RFID technology resulted in a considerable reduction in the total wait time for patients to receive their admissions. The technology resulted in a 45% reduction in the total wait time.

Recent literature also pointed out that there is a considerable adoption in the use of the RFID technology in various healthcare facilities all over the world. The rate of adoption has however been noted to be a bit cautious as co pared to the rate of adoptions in other sectors ( Evans et al., 2005).There are about five key areas that have been documented to be of utmost importance in terms of the application of the RFID technology in the health sector. These areas can be referred to as functional areas as pointed out by Ingeholm et al. (2006);

The first functional domain of RFID application in the healthcare industry is the management of assets. In this domain, the RFID is used in order to ensure that the various health facility assets such as defibrillators are efficiently utilized. This results in reduction of operating costs of assets, higher visibility as well as theft reduction Chin Lin (2009).

The second functional area of RFID application in the health care setting is the improvement of patient care at the point of care. This is achieved by the reduction of various forms of human error in the process of drug administration and the management of blood transfusion in the hospitals. These functions were basically automated by means of bar coding technology (Roark, 2004).However, the use of the RFID technology in these processes has increased their accuracy and promptness as a result of the advantages that the RFID technology has over the bar-coding systems.

The third functional area that is improved through the adoption of the RFID technology in the healthcare industry is the optimization of workflow. This is because the active RFID systems are able to allow for the retrieval of various identification as well as location information on every tagged patient or equipment in real time. This has the added advantage of allowing the hospital administration to effectively monitor all the functions and patients in their facility seamlessly. The overall result is an increased workflow.

The RFID system has also been acknowledged for its ability to provide an improved level of security. This is as pointed out by Chin Lin (2009).This is achieved through the implementation of the RFID technology in the process of access control in certain areas of the hospital which contain sensitive information as well as dangerous materials.

The fifth functional area of application of the RFID technology is in the electronic management of pharmaceuticals. This application got endorsed through the concept of Electronic Product Code (EPC)/RFID solution which is preferred by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (2004).

Tzeng et al. (2008) presents an analysis of the business value of the various RFID technologies in the healthcare industry. Their analysis is focused on the case studies of various Taiwanese hospitals and their aim is to effectively identify the various organizational aspects as well as the strategic impacts of the RFID adoption. They also analyze the business impact of the technology in the health care setting. Their study conclude that the use of the RFID technology in the healthcare sector can lead to significant changes in the human resource management as wel las the business processes of any given health organization. They also noted that the use of RFId technology in the hospitals resulted to improved level of customer satisfaction as well as an improvement of both the efficiency as well as the level of flexibility of the various processes. Their finding therefore meant that the re-engineering of the RFID application can result in an optimization of the health care system to levels that are not easy to estimate as a result of certain factors that are deemed uncontrollable.

Other scholars have also pointed out that the wireless RFID technology can effectively be utilized in the process of monitoring the patient's heart rates in cases of treatment of patients with cardiac complications. The system can also be used for the identification of patient who is to be taken…

Sources Used in Document:


Anonymous (2004), RFID in the hospital, in RFID Gazette. July 15,


Aarts, J., Doorewaard, H., and Berg, M.(2004), "Understanding implementation: the case of a computerized physician order entry system in a large Dutch university medical center," Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, vol. 11, no. 3,

Chin-Yin,(2000)RFID-Enabled Analysis of Care Coordination and Patient Flow in Ambulatory Carpp. 207-216.

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