If You’re Looking at RTLS, Don’t Overlook Passive RFID and Other Notes from RFID in Health Care 2009 – Boston

Posted by: Kenny Schiff on September 18, 2009

Just back from attending RFIDJournal’s RFID in Health Care 2009 conference yesterday in Waltham, MA. In spite of the economic downturn, the good news is that RFID continues to gain momentum in healthcare because it is having real impact on productivity and the bottom line. What was once just a promising set of technologies and solutions is increasingly becoming mainstream.

Some takeaways from the event… it seems that there are enough forces to motivate the market away from WiFi solutions. Second, creative funding models are really what are helping the adoption of enterprise solutions along with managed services. The shift away from capitalized purchases for RTLS and RFID systems may be what moves deployments of these solutions out of the early adopter realm.

The other take away is that passive RFID definitely has a place in healthcare. We heard some compelling case studies regarding high impact, yet lower tech applications of more traditional (if there is such a thing) passive RFID. So even thought there are massive initiatives for enterprise RFID based on active technologies, customers are getting great return from less pervasive and more specific passive technologies. UMass Memorial has such an initiative in the Cath and EP labs. Also, Ray Lowe, the IS Director of Providence Health (a major west coast hospital group) talked about how he will be using Reva Systems (make applications to manage and integrate RFID readers) and ThingMagic (makes readers) as part of workflow in a new facility that will have a WiFi-based RTLS system.

The real story here is that no one auto-ID or location-based solution is going to fit all needs within the enterprise. And that’s not a bad thing. Continued innovation and product maturity, along with more open systems are making this all doable. For hospitals, there are opportunities small and large to take advantage of RFID and RTLS to immediately impact productivity and the bottom line.

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