RFID in Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals

RFID in Healthcare and PharmaceuticalsHospitals, medical centers and pharmacies are improving stock controls, reducing manual labor and increasing product safety with RFID.  The technology is maximizing patient care and transforming hospital operations. Continue reading below to learn more about the companies that are succeeding with RFID in healthcare.

RFID Manages Medications

With the deployment of RFID technology, the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) and CaroMont Regional Medical Center gained efficiencies, improved product recalls and virtually eliminated the chance for human error when stocking emergency carts.  When an emergency happens in either hospital, such as an allergic reaction to medication or a heart attack, portable crash carts are used to help patients. The carts contain equipment and trays of emergency medications.  It is vital that the trays contain all necessary, unexpired drugs.  In April 2012, UMMC started using an RFID system from Kit Check. CaroMont installed a similar system in May 2013. Medications in the trays are RFID-tagged and each tray has a tag on it which monitors the medications that should be included in the tray. When used trays return to the pharmacy for restocking, a pharmacist visually inspects the trays and removes any used or opened medications. The trays are then placed in the Kit Check scanning station which reads all the tags and notifies the user which medications need to be replaced and if any are nearing expiration. A process that used to consume 20 minutes of a busy pharmacist’s time can now be completed in a couple minutes. Hospital workers are also able to more easily find recalled drugs with the RFID system, reducing time spent searching and resealing trays from over 20 hours down to two.

Sharpe Memorial Hospital, San Diego’s largest emergency and trauma center, is using an RFID system from Impinj partner MEPS Real Time to manage and dispense inventory and monitor expiration dates.  MEPS’ Intelliguard Automated Dispensing Cabinets rely on ThingMagic’s M5e modules, which are based on Impinj Indy RFID reader chips. In an eight month pilot of the RFID system, Sharpe tagged high-value, slow moving drugs with Avery Dennison inlays containing Monza RFID chips. During the pilot period, Sharpe was able to reduce drug stock levels without having any stock outs and no medications expired unused.  Because of the benefits of the MEPS system seen in the pilot, Sharpe is increasing the number of RFID-tagged items in the hospital.

Life sciences company Promega has saved nearly $2 million dollars due to the use of Terso Solutions’ RFID-enabled freezers and storage cabinets. Terso’s cabinets help medical device and biotechnology manufacturers keep track of their products at customer sites. Promega has reduced shrinkage in every freezer from 35% to less than 1% and reduced expired product write offs that used to cost $20,000 to $30,000 per month down to close to zero.

Hospitals Track Assets with RFID

Bahrain’s King Hamad University Hospital (KHUH) has increased inventory visibility and decreased theft since integrating an RFID solution from integrator Azimuth into the hospital’s management systems.  At the KHUH facility, some large items and mobile pharmaceutical carts are tagged with passive UHF RFID tags. Impinj Speedway xPortal RFID readers are deployed throughout the hospital above doorways and elevators to monitor the assets. The system provides automated and auditable methods of inventory management, making items easier to find and ensuring that needed items are available in the right location at all times. KHUH is able to reduce their costs because the technology decreases the need to over-provision for key assets. RFID also provides centralized monitoring and alerting in the maternity ward, greatly improving the security of newborn babies.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is deploying RFID technology at over 1,500 locations to track items and IT assets throughout their facilities. The VA hopes to improve operational efficiency and better utilize assets, while speeding up inventory taking processes.

Preventing Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals with RFID

Pharmaceutical companies are using RFID technology to track products.  Purdue Pharma efficiently protects their high-value OxyContin product using RFID technology. Leading Korean pharmaceutical company, Hanmi Pharmaceutical, tags 60 million pharmaceutical products each year, streamlining their operations, preventing counterfeit products and maximizing traceability throughout their supply chain. Read more about Hanmi’s success in this case study.

To learn more about RFID in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, we invite you to watch the webinar, RFID and the Connected Hospital. Please contact Impinj if you would like to speak to an expert about your application.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2012 and has been revised and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

About Joey McFarland

Joey McFarland is Marketing Communications Generalist at Impinj. She has been with Impinj since 2010.

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4 thoughts on “RFID in Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals

  1. Just wondering if you have done an RFID solution for tracking medical supplies (Healthcare) in Operation Theater Room with RFID?

    Basically the medical equipment/Supplies for critical surgery is very costly and most of the hospital is not willing to buy outright these items, what they have in mind is to have a storage system (that contain mediacl supplies/equipment) with RFID ready, so anytime the doctor is taking the medical supplies, the RFID reader will detect this and update the medial supplies provider and they can start billing.

    • Hi Bernard-

      Sorry for the delay in response. I have passed your inquiry on to our team and a member should have been in contact with you. Please let me know if you did not get an email or if you have any other questions!



    • Thanks for your comment. Here are some articles on patient tracking with RFID that may be of interest to you: http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?10157, http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?3865/, http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?7659

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