RFID-Enabled Healthcare

RFID-Enabled Healthcare

Amir Manzoor (Bahria University, Islamabad, Pakistan)
DOI: 10.4018/IJICTHD.2016040103
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Abstract

RFID is a new technology that is quickly gaining ground in healthcare industry. RFID is being used in many areas of healthcare from asset tracking to patient care to access control. The objective of this article is to provide an extensive survey of existing literature to identify various applications of RFID in healthcare and ascertain how healthcare industry can gain long-term benefits of RFID technology. Findings indicate that RFID is being used in variety of healthcare applications. Findings indicate that effective use of RFID in healthcare requires various enablers, most important of which is the government support to use of RFID in healthcare. There also exist ethical/cultural issues related to RFID implementation that require close collaboration among RFID products manufactures and healthcare providers. This article also provides several recommendations for healthcare industry in order gain competitive advantage from the use of RFID technology.
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Introduction

The healthcare industry is one of the largest sectors in many economies (Payton et al., 2011). Healthcare sector in USA created approximately 14.3 million jobs in 2008. This sector was expected to provide an additional 3.2 million jobs by 2018 (United-States-Department-of-Labor, 2010). At present, global healthcare sector is facing many challenges such as increasing operating costs, increasing number of medication errors, and ageing patient population. US healthcare expenses were expected to reach almost 20% of the GNP by 2017. That amounted to an increase of 15% in healthcare expenditure since 1963 (Middleton, 2009; Wurster et al., 2009). In Canada, healthcare expenses were expected to be almost 7.1% of the GNP by 2020, an increase of 1.1% since 2000 (Brimacombe et al., 2001). In Australia, healthcare expenses were estimated at 10% of the GNP (GS1-Australia, 2010). Each year, approximately 1.5 million Americans suffered from medication errors and these errors resulted in significant additional healthcare costs (National-Academy-of-Sciences, 2007). A study done in 2002 estimated that the population of people aged 85 and above in western countries would increase by 350% in 2020 (Wiener & Tilly, 2002). Another study estimated that by 2050 the population of older Americans would increase by 135% (Newell, 2011). It is evident that there would be an increased pressure on healthcare expenditure, which will become more complicated given that, due to the economic crisis, several countries are facing critical challenges in providing healthcare services. Healthcare is a very different business due to various reasons. Patients are not typical consumers, they do not always make the decision as to when, and where they will seek which type of care and at what cost. Healthcare providers are not as autonomous as any other typical business could be. Various stakeholders, such as legislators, regulators, and payers often affect both clinical and business decisions of caregivers. For healthcare providers, efficiency is not merely good fiscal practice. It must be a critical component of their mission (Fosso Wamba, Anand, & Carter, 2013; Lefebvre, Castro, & Lefebvre, 2011a). Healthcare sector today provides strong institutional powers and policies for an effective use of information technology (IT). Healthcare sector considers adoption and effective use of IT a critical goal of modern healthcare system to enable better support service delivery (Menachemi & Brooks, 2006; Payton et al., 2011). IT offer many opportunities for healthcare transformation through business process reengineering. Effective use of IT could provide minimized data-entry errors, real-time access to patient data, improved clinical trials, streamlined processes, increased transparency, reduced administrative overhead, creation of new high-tech healthcare markets and jobs and improved overall healthcare management of individuals (PCAST, 2010; Burkhard et al., 2010). The estimated potential safety savings from adoption and use of interoperable electronic medical records systems in USA was approximately US$142–371 billion (Sherer, 2010). RFID technology is considered the next IT innovation expected to expand healthcare transformation (Fosso Wamba et al., 2008; Ngai et al., 2009a; 2009b; Oztekin et al., 2010a, 2010b; Fosso Wamba & Bgai, 2011). In order maximize efficiency and reduce waste, healthcare providers need to answer some tough questions such as what they have, where they have it, and where it needs to go. In order successfully track equipment and people, healthcare providers need a flexible and scalable system that provides automatic tracking with no dependency on clinical staff. One such system is RFID-bases system. All the capabilities enabled by RFID technology have the potential to facilitate new value creation in healthcare service innovation (Dominguez-Péry et al., 2011).

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