RFID used for hand washing compliance in hospitals, among other uses

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New RFID systems employed in healthcare settings may help them keep track of their staff's compliance with policies, from which rooms they enter, to what inventory they use or even how often they wash their hands, according to healthcare market research publisher Kalorama Information. Staff tracking measures are among the most novel, but not the only, applications for RFID in the healthcare sector. Kalorama estimates, in its new report The Global Market for RFID in Healthcare, that there will be nearly a billion-dollar market f or RFID in healthcare.

RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) technology involves the use of small 'tag' devices that emit radio signals which are read by RFID readers. The tag is read (or encoded) when it is in range of the reader. The information is managed by a computer system which allows users to interact with the data. Because they do not involve data entry and they enhance the very mobile healthcare industry, Kalorama has long foreseen the growth of RFID technologies in healthcare and estimates there will be a US$960 million market this year for systems that help healthcare facilities function. The report indicates that hand washing compliance is one of the areas where RFID devices can help.

"Infection control is critical for healthcare systems as they try to reduce negative events, and RFID is one of the few technologies that can help," said Bruce Carlson, Publisher of Kalorama Information.

With nearly 2 million patients developing hospital-acquired infections annually, the report says that compliance is an important issue and will drive sales of such systems. With an RFID hand washing compliance system, when a staff member approaches the soap dispenser, the dispenser reads the RFID-encoded badge. It records who is at the station and when activity is taking place. Resurgent Medical and Versus Technology are among the vendors that make hand washing compliance systems. Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami is an example of a hospital that has implemented the system, and Kalorama believes that other healthcare entities will follow.

"The RFID system is brutally honest," Carlson said. "If a hospital is not in compliance, the data will soon alert management. Management can then decide how to improve individual or unit behavior."

The use of RFID for the purpose of staff tracking is in the early stages and it is not the only use for RFID technologies in the healthcare sector. Kalorama believes the bulk of RFID sales in healthcare will be in tracking patients for safety and billing purposes, inventory control and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Kalorama Information's report "The Global Market for RFID in Healthcare" contains information on each aspect of RFID in healthcare, and a detailed analysis of the products and competitors active in the industry. The report can be found here


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