RFID as a Loss Prevention System
It is imperative in all hospitals that the location and/or inventory of its staff, medicine, equipment, and other physical items be tracked at all times. Any time, hospital must be able to locate for example a particular medicine or equipment because in hospitals, the can be a matter of life and death. This is why, having a loss prevention system in hospitals is very important. It is essential that this system be updated at real time and easy enough for the staff to use it. It is also important that the process of tracking and locating the items be suitable for the working conditions of the hospital.
The solution for this is implementing an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) loss prevention throughout the hospital. RFID is a new identification technology similar to the barcode. However, it has distinct advantages over the barcode system.
One of the benefits of RFID includes serialized data. This means that each item tagged with RFID can have its own individual serial number. Other benefit includes reduced human intervention, higher throughput supply chains, real time information flow, and increased item security. (Sweeney, 2005, 12)
An article in Business Week talks about Boeing implementing RFID in its manufacturing plant. During the first six months, with an implementation cost of $16,000, Boeing saved $29,000 on labor alone. (Business Week, 2005) This showed that even though RFID is an expensive system compared to barcodes; its value comes in the savings you get from implementing it.
Things needed for a complete RFID system includes the tags, printers/writers, readers and antenna. One would also need a software company to design the software for the hospital’s needs. It is very important to ensure that all the parties involved discuss all aspects of this system meticulously to ensure the proper implementation and maximize its usefulness.
For implementation, RFID tags must be placed on all mobile physical assets of the hospitals. Medicines should also have these tags. The staff and the patients can be given wrist tags in order to track them. Readers and antennas should be placed in strategic locations around the hospital. Each time that a tag goes into the range of a reader, it picks up the signal and tells the computer where the signal came from thus allowing the system to know where that particular tag is.
What’s more, the hospital can use RFID chips especially if they implant it on people as security devices. According to BBC, a club in Barcelona Spain gave an option for its VIPs to have RFID implanted in them. This chip gave them instantaneous access to VIP rooms and also acts as a debit card for the customer drinks. (BBC, 2004) This shows that this technology offers more potential than a loss prevention system.
All the medicine and equipment that a hospital uses are very important. Finding the right staff at the proper time is also very important. With this RFID system in place, it can significantly improve the efficiency and the quality of the hospital. It also has the potential to become more than its original purpose. Innovation is key in medicine. Every day, there are cutting edge procedures and new drugs being developed to save people’s lives. But simple things like finding the right medicine on time or having the right medicine can also save people’s lives. This is why the hospital should be vigilant about having this technology. It can benefit both the hospital and the patient thus making it better for the community.
Sweeney II, Patrick. J. (Ed.). (2005). RFID for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing Inc.
Kharif, Olga (2005). RFID’s Second Wave. Business Week. Retrieved November 8, 2008. From http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/aug2005/tc2005089_4131_tc_215.htm.
BBC (2004, September 29). Barcelona Clubbers Get Chipped. Retrieved November 8, 2008. From http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3697940.stm.