Assessing the Adoption of RFID Technology by Healthcare Providers

Recently HIMSS released the results of a survey of healthcare professionals around the use of RFID technology within healthcare.  In reviewing the highlights of the survey, some interesting observations emerge:

1. Application of RFID technology towards patient safety and quality is of higher need and priority. Nearly one-third of respondents believe that widespread use of RFID applications will benefit healthcare organizations in the area of patient safety.  A slightly lower percentage (25%) believes that widespread use of RFID will be of value in the area of asset and equipment tracking.  Further substantiation of the priority placed on patient care and safety was found when more than one-third of respondents indicated that the ability to impact patient safety and/or reduce medical errors is the most critical influencer for the use of RFID applications in healthcare organizations.  Another 20 percent noted that the most critical influencer would be inventory management/asset control.

2.Current adoption of RFID technology doesn’t align with care giver priorities. Nearly 40 percent of respondents working for a healthcare organization reported that they use RFID in the area of asset/biomedical equipment tracking. Another quarter reported using RFID for inventory management.  If the priority is patient safety/quality but the adoption to date is focused on asset tracking and inventory management, then rapid adoption will be at a lessened rate until there is alignment with key issues the organization is seeking to address (safety/quality).

3. Financial resources are still constraining adoption. The biggest barrier to implementing RFID technology in healthcare organizations is finding the budget for this technology. This was identified by nearly 40 percent of respondents. Another quarter of respondents noted that they need a better ROI analysis before they will make this type of investment.  While the data suggests the biggest barrier may be identified as the budget, it seems a directly related constraint is that there is not enough alignment with the highest organizational priorities of patient quality/safety.  If the technology can address priority issues, funding will be allocated and the investment justified.

Healthcare providers are showing interest in evaluating RFID enabled solutions, however its clear that accelerated adoption is contingent on addressing their most critical needs.  Mobile Aspects has developed RFID enabled technologies that are aligned with the goals of improving care quality and safety, as well as operational needs around asset tracking and inventory management.

For instance, articles and reports are continually emerging around patient care infection risks due to flexible endoscopes that have been improperly cleaned and reprocessed.  See an example here .  Our endoscope tracking system (iRIScope) is leveraging RFID technology to automate the clinical processes and operational workflows associated with endoscope storage, utilization, and reprocessing.  In turn, this process automation creates a more controlled, systemic approach in