Report: Though promising, RFID use in hospitals faces roadblocks

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RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), which is a promising technology that has been put to effective use in some retail settings and military applications, has faced adoption hurdles by healthcare organizations. Specific roadblock to implementation, according to a report by Spyglass Consulting Group, include a lack of established standards and government mandates, as well as the availability of cheaper bar code-based tracking systems.
   
RFID technology is widely viewed to have potential uses for patient and asset tracking, and supply chain management in hospitals.
   
According to the survey, just 10 percent of organizations interviewed track such assets as expensive mobile equipment using RFID, though 45 percent hope to employ systems by year's end.
   
In reality, not many hospitals today track assets real-time and instead over-purchase or lease equipment to assure that it is available, said Gregg Malkary, managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group.
   
It seems that network-based active RFID applications are far more popular than passive RFID networks, the study found. Of all the solutions available, bar codes are by far the cheapest, followed by passive RFID tags, according to the survey.
   
There was a general sense by many healthcare organizations interviewed that RFID solutions have not evolved to a point that they are useful for large scale implementations due to worries over network infrastructure, scalability, and integration complexities.    
   
Over 100 healthcare organization professionals were interviewed for the market study in such areas as clinical engineering, materials management, pharmacy, and medical/nursing informatics.
   
The complete study "Healthcare without Bounds: Trends in RFID" is available at www.spyglass-consulting.com.