Uncoordinated efforts between hospitals, vendors, shippers and suppliers are keeping RFID out of hospitals, concludes a new report by Spyglass Consulting Group.
Nonetheless, a few applications are poised to become mainstream.
Ten percent of HCOs (health care organizations) in the survey use RFID to track expensive mobile equipment. However, 45 percent of those interviewed expected to have such systems in place by the end of next year.
Right now, few hospitals have real-time tracking of equipment. They overpurchase or lease equipment to make sure they can find equipment when its needed, says Gregg Malkary, managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group, so a tracking system can readily pay for itself.
According to the report, active RFID applications, which can be tracked on an RFID network, were much more popular than passive RFID networks, which require a nearby reader.
Thats the case even though battery-powered RFID tags for active applications cost $50 to $100 plus network infrastructure. Passive RFID tags may cost 50 cents or less, but are still much more expensive than bar codes, which are only a fraction of a cent.
Network infrastructure was the most commonly named barrier to deployment, named by more than 92 of the 100 interviewees. HCOs want to be able to use existing wireless networks rather than a dedicated RFID network for tracking.
That makes the network more valuable, but also more susceptible. HCOs worry that tracking thousands of items could overwhelm the network. That could mean that clinicians are unable to access or enter patient data.
Another potential issue is RFID solutions that require network coverage outside of the areas where patients and physicians spend most of their time, such as storage rooms, stairwells and, potentially, areas just outside the hospital itself.