Cost Effective Design of an RFID Based Healthcare Service System

Cost Effective Design of an RFID Based Healthcare Service System

Kinza Sarwar (COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan) and Munam Ali Shah (COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan)
DOI: 10.4018/IJPHIM.2015070103
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Healthcare industry confronts many challenges in a pursuit to give safe, cost-effective and highly-valued healthcare services; Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is considered as one of the rising mechanism which helps in addressing the challenges, currently faced by Mobile Healthcare Service System (MHS). This article focuses on the contribution of cost-effective RFID deployments in healthcare sector that broadly categorize tracking of items, patients and items associated to patient; providing solutions for improving the auditability and accountability, reducing human errors, eliminating the risks of misidentification, identifying treatment errors and keeping the inventory updated. It explores certain parameters that can play an important role for the cost effective deployment of an RFID system such as security and privacy concerns, social and ethical aspects. Moreover, the article analyses the main challenges faced and investigates how security threats and vulnerabilities are a red flag to RFID technology. Furthermore, different solutions are highlighted that can streamline the operation and can optimize the workflow services in healthcare system. RFID represents next-generation enhancement over bar-code technology. Based on performance evaluation and comparison, differences between the two technologies are identified. This article also provides an overview that how RFID is a key enabler to build-up the healthcare service system and an efficacious affirm in optimizing and transforming healthcare practices.
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Mobile Healthcare Service System (MHS) is an emerging industry that encompasses the use of wireless telecommunication to provide practice of medicine and public health. It has emerged the use of information and communication technology for services that aims at strengthening the security of patients, better use of medication, upgrading pharmaceutical inventory and identification of patient system.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a small electronic device that transmits and receives several types of data using electromagnetic radiations. It is an evolutionary technology which is based on storing and in relative manner retrieving information passively through wireless radio communication (Ahsan, Shah, & Kingston, 2010). RFID consists of Transponder for sending data particularly Tags, Interrogator/Reader for the interpretation of data and middleware interface for forwarding data. The RFID schematic system is represented in figure 1. The device serves the same purpose as a magnetic strip on the back of an ATM card or credit; provides a distinctive identifier for an object. In order to extract the identifying information of the object, RFID device must be scanned same as a magnetic strip (“RFID Solutions | Selectamark Security Systems plc,” n.d.).

Figure 1.

Schematic of an RFID system


The RFID-based system components specifications are illustrated in Table 1.

Table 1.
RFID system features
RFID Readers
ReaderCan be wireless handheld or fixed reader/antenna devices
Virtual portable memory1-50 Mbytes
Reader capabilityMulti tag reading
Transmitter/receiver frequency1-1000 MHz
Tag read range1-500 feet
ImmunityNoise and interference (Ting, Kwok, Tsang, & Lee, 2011a)
Communication standardsRS 232 and RS 485
Anti-collision capabilityBuilt-in
Operating Voltage7Vdc-25Vdc
Tags typeActive and passive tags
Battery lifeActive tags 1-5 years (depending upon the data transmitted frequency) and passive tags requires no battery (Mogre, 2009)
Tag read rangeFor active tags 1-500 feet (depending upon readers sensitivity settings) and for passive tags 1-20 feet read range
Life cycleActive tags up to 5-10 years and passive tags up to 20 years
Tags FrequenciesMicrowave, Ultra High, High and Low frequency (Ostbye et al., 2003)
Microwave frequencyWorks on 2.5 GHz with maximum 5 feet reading range
Ultra High frequencyWorks on 860-930 MHz and has maximum 20 feet reading range
High frequencyWorks on 13.56 MHz, used for short reading range applications and has less than 3 feet reading range
Low frequencyWorks on 125 KHz, used for short reading range applications and has maximum 2 feet reading range
Storage Capacity1 byte – 10 Mbytes
Wake up frequency1-500 MHz
Tags classificationClass 0, Class 1, Class 2, Class 3 and Class 4 (Massuod & Hassan, 2012)
Class 0Read only, id number is written only once during manufacture
Class 1Write Once Read Many, data can be written by manufacturer or the user one time
Class 2Read-Write, user can access read and write operation into the tags memory
Class 3Read-Write with sensors, records parameters like motion, pressure and temperature
Class 4Read-write with integrated transmitter, communicates with other tags without the presence of readers
RFID Field Generator
FunctionalityProduce 1-500 MHz field to wake-up active tags
Tags wake-up range10-200 feet (depending upon field generator strength)
Flexible strength settingAllow adjustment of wake-up tag range
Provides cost effective tracking systemCost lower than RFID reader
OptionalMotion detection
RFID Antennas
FunctionalityUsed as a medium for tag reading
Antennas typesOmni directional, dipole or multi pole, patch, linear polarized, circular polarized, stick, beam-forming or phased-array elements, Gate and adaptive antennas (Ahsan et al., 2010)
Operating Temperature-30 °C-70 °C

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