Ubiquitous healthcare has become possible with rapid advances in information and communication technologies. Ubiquitous healthcare will bring about an increased accessibility to healthcare providers, more efficient tasks and processes, and a higher quality of healthcare services. radio frequency identification (RFID) is a key technology of ubiquitous healthcare and enables a fully automated solution for information delivery, thus reducing the potential for human error. This chapter provides an overview of ubiquitous healthcare and RFID applications. In this chapter, the background of ubiquitous computing and RFID technologies, current RFID applications in hospitals, and the future trends and privacy implications of RFID in hospitals are discussed.
Healthcare Industry And Information Technology
Healthcare is one of the world’s largest industries. In the United States, for example, it accounts for 14 percent of GDP (Janz et al., 2005). Healthcare is also arguably the most complex and regulated industry, regularly facing change brought on by federal, state, and local regulation, changing competitive landscapes, mergers and acquisitions, and the pressures of cost control (Finch, 1999). The healthcare industry historically has lagged behind other industries in the adoption of information and communication technologies partially due to healthcare managers and executives struggling to cope with environmental challenges in the healthcare industry (Menon et al., 2000). Zukerman (2000) pointed out that it is the dynamic nature of the healthcare industry that leads organizations to struggle to survive in turbulent conditions.
While the healthcare industry historically has lagged behind other industries in the adoption of information and communication technologies, this is changing at a faster rate (Finch, 1999). Healthcare industry leaders and decision makers have begun to realize the supporting role of technology in their effort to maintain a focus on quality care while meeting the pressures from regulatory bodies, competition, and achieving business and performance goals.
The mobile workstation, which can be used for medical records, diagnostics, charting, pharmacy, admissions, and billing, is an example of recently adopted technologies in hospitals. With mobile workstations, physicians can write prescriptions at the point of care, from their offices or from home computers (Coonan, 2002). While inputting orders, physicians can be prompted about drug interactions, potential alternatives, formulary restrictions and patient limitations. As a result, generally illegible handwriting is not an issue and the electronic support systems at the bedside can deter errors.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Object Name Service (ONS): An automated networking service that points computers to sites on the World Wide Web.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): A technology used to identify, track, and trace a person or an object without using a human to read and record data.
Ubiquitous Healthcare: Healthcare to anyone, anytime, and anywhere by removing location, time and other restraints while increasing both the coverage and quality of healthcare.
Internet: Protocol (IP): The method by which data is sent from one computer to another on the Internet. Each computer on the Internet has at least one IP address that uniquely identifies it from all other computers on the Internet.
Electronic Product Codes (EPC): A unique serial number that identifies an object or person. Currently, the 96-bit EPC is the most prevailing version and contains the detail information about the specific object or person being monitored.
Ultra-Wideband (UWB): A wireless communications technology that can transmit large amounts of digital data over a wide spectrum of frequency bands with very low power for a short distance.
Extensive Markup Language (XML): A general-purpose markup language, whose primary purpose is to facilitate the sharing of data across different information systems, particularly via the Internet.