RFID in the Healthcare Industry

RFID in the Healthcare Industry

Nebil Buyurgan (University of Arkansas, USA) and Bill C. Hardgrave (Auburn University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-487-5.ch001
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With its potential and unique uses, healthcare is one of the new sectors where RFID technology is being considered and adopted. Improving the healthcare supply chain, patient safety, and monitoring of critical processes are some of the key drivers that motivate healthcare industry participants to invest in this technology. Many forward-looking healthcare organizations have already put the potential of RFID into practice and are realizing the benefits of it. This study examines these empirical applications and provides a framework of current RFID implementations in healthcare industry and opportunities for continued applications. The framework also presents a categorical analysis of the benefits that have been observed by the healthcare industry. In addition, major implementation challenges are discussed. The framework suggests asset management, inventory management, authenticity management, identity management, and process management are the broad areas in which RFID adoptions can be categorized. Even though this categorization captures most of the current and potential research, more empirical studies and evaluations are needed and more applied investigations have to be conducted on integrating the technology within the industry in order to fully utilize RFID.
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Rfid Technology Background

Radio Frequency Identification is a data collection technology that utilizes wireless radio communication (radio frequency signals) to identify, track, and categorize objects (see Figure 1). The basic RFID system consists of three main components:

Figure 1.

Object/device interactions in an RFID system

  • The RFID reader, which by itself contains the processing unit, antennas, and the cables joining them; its main task is to send electromagnetic waves to the surrounding environment and listen for electromagnetic responses from the RFID tags. Upon receipt of the tags’ data, the reader submits the RFID reads to the target database.

  • The RFID tag, which is a microchip bound to a small antenna, transmits the data stored in it as the electromagnetic response to the reader.

  • The database where all the raw read data is to be amassed, and ultimately converted into meaningful numbers and patterns.

This system can be extended with a set of middleware devices, a variety of soft-controllers, a network of readers, and a powerful database management system to ease data-acquisition and data-management in a large information system (Lehlou et al., 2009).

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