The Future of RFID in Healthcare / Medical: An Expert’s Perspective
Steve Bryant, one of JADAK’s electrical engineers, shares some insights on the rapidly growing application of RFID in healthcare.
JADAK’s Newsletter Staff (JNS) caught up with Systems Engineer and RFID Expert Steve Bryant (SB) on RFID in the medical industry.
JNS: Thanks for taking some time to talk to us, Steve.
SB: Happy to do it.
JNS: So, what’s the state of RFID in medical today?
SB: RFID technology is growing rapidly in healthcare today. Obviously, barcoding technology has been used in the healthcare industry for decades. However, certain applications need capabilities beyond what a standard 1D or 2D barcode can deliver. Plenty of 1D and 2D barcodes in hospitals and clinical…
JNS: What are some specific examples of how RFID is being utilized?
SB: Well, in the monitoring of consumables: labels can be placed on medical consumables, like reagents for example in order to document how much liquid is left in the reagent for use in other machines. The tag can also be made inactive so the reagent can’t be re-filled or reused with improper materials.
Hospitals are beginning to use RFID for tracking functions like sterilization status of surgical instruments. They’ll even track usage and access to machines. Labels on nurse and clinician badges can be read by embedded scan engines to unlock or limit the amount a person can access an item, a particular device or even an area.
JNS: So, if end customers or OEM’s are thinking about integrating this technology in to their solutions, where should they start?
SB: Probably the best place to start is to work with a company that has deep experience in the world of barcoding and RFID that has proven successful project rollouts. Good partners will ask the right questions to determine if RFID is the proper fit: will the application have line of site challenges, is read/writable flexibility of RFID important, does the application require a certain amount of security or compliance to patients 5 rights, read ranges… But again, a strong partner will help customers choose the right technology and have the technical expertise to fully implement a solution, based on the customers’ needs.
JNS: Experience definitely matters. Do you have a project that demonstrates JADAK’s RFID experience?
SB: One specific project we worked on at JADAK was for a medical implant that was hard to find in larger patients. In this case, we had to design a RFID tag that would be embedded right in to the implant and could be read with a scanner like the HS-1R. The tag contained information about the implant, but more importantly was used as a mechanism to find the implant itself. To do this JADAK developed a custom UHF antenna array to tri-angulate location of the RFID chip located in the implant, so that Doctors knew exactly where the implant was. The design required to read thru layers of fat and triangulate an RFID chip was quite sophisticated and demonstrates JADAK’s RFID capabilities.
JNS: Great info, Steve. Thanks.
SB: My pleasure!