A promising approach for facilitating cost containment and reducing the need for complex manual processes in the healthcare space, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology enables data transport via radio waves to support the automatic detection, monitoring, and electronic tracking of objects ranging from physicians, nurses, patients, and clinical staff to walkers, wheelchairs, syringes, heart valves, laboratory samples, stents, intravenous pumps, catheters, testtubes, and surgical instruments (Karthikeyan & Nesterenko, 2005). RFID implementations streamline hospital applications and work in concert with WLANs (wireless local area networks) and mobile devices such as cellular phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). RFID technology also safeguards the integrity of the drug supply by automatically tracing the movement of medications from the manufacturer to the hospital patient. This article begins with a discussion of RFID development and RFID technical fundamentals. In the sections that follow, the work of standards organizations in the RFID space is introduced, and capabilities of RFID solutions in reducing costs and improving the quality of healthcare are described. Descriptions of RFID initiatives and security and privacy challenges associated with RFID initiatives, are explored. Finally, trends in the use of RFID-augmented wireless sensor networks (WSNs) in the healthcare sector are introduced.
Key Terms in this Chapter
RFID System: Consists of the RFID tag, the RFID reader, and the communications between them.
Barcode: Consists of lines of different widths that identify an item. Works with a scanner.
Passive RFID Tag: Lacks an onboard power source. Makes use of incoming radio waves broadcast by an interrogator to power its response.
Active RFID Tag: Features an onboard battery that serves as its own power source for performing operations.
Application-Specific Service: Service that satisfies the performance and functional requirements of either an application or class of applications.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): Wireless identification and data capture technology that consists of a tag or transponder and an interrogator or reader to support applications ranging from airport baggage handling to supply chain management.