The Army, which has forked over $3.76 million dollars to 3M, plans to track a portion of the files at its Fort Hood Army base in Texas—the militarys largest active duty domestic base.
Fort Hood houses the active medical records of more than 150,000 men and women stationed at Fort Hood—and their dependents records.
In the course of a single month, upwards of 70,000 of those files are used across Fort Hoods six medical clinics, transferred from one location to the next.
The idea with the 3M project is to tag and track each file as it moves in and out of a central filing room, to reduce errors in the manual tracking, retrieval, filing and file merging processes within the Army, according to 3M.
As with other military entities, there are a lot of acronyms involved in the deal.
TATRC, or Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, is the unit within the Army that is actually leading the RFID effort.
TATRC is itself a unit of USAMRMC, or the U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command.
During the scope of the three-year project, 3M is charged with choosing and optimizing the best RFID technology for file management, according to a 3M statement.
Its also charged with developing a system that includes shelf-based reading capabilities and with getting a staff onboard to maintain the system.
"The system is designed to provide continuous automatic inventory monitoring and automatic error notification; and, essentially, eliminate human compliance issues," said David Erickson, 3M program manager and principal investigator for the Fort Hood project, in a statement.
"Recognition of RFID as a means of improving file management is growing rapidly, both within and outside of government. Problems in this area not only can waste time and money but more importantly can adversely affect the delivery of medical services and the timely deployment of personnel to their assignments to other parts of the world."
The Army is not the only governmental entity with plans to use RFID technology.
In addition to the U.S. State Departments issuance of RFID-based ePassports as early as August, the Tax Division of the Department of Justice and the U.S. Tax Court have also taken a run at RFID.
Like the Army, the latter two departments are using RFID to track records as well, and have contracted with 3M for technology.
3M, which manufactures a wide range of products, including air cleaning filters and orthodontics, also has an RFID portfolio: its tracking technology is often used in libraries, to track books and periodicals.
The companys namesake RFID Tracking Solutions, geared also for law practices, financial services firms, governmental agencies and medical services companies, provides a tracking system that helps people better locate and process physical files as they move in and out of a central file room, according to 3Ms Web site.
A spokesperson from the Army was not available to comment at press time.