Radio-frequency identification chips, or RFID chips, might have been used across multiple sectors but the uptake in medical settings has been slow despite the benefits. But they are an important piece of technology that hospitals should be taking advantage of, with cost and time saving advantages to consider.
After the Department of Health announced incoming GS1 standards in 2014 across NHS Trusts in England, with a view for the standards to be fully integrated within the next couple of years, RFID chips are set to become even more important in a hospital setting. In order to be compliant, many trusts will need to overhaul the way they use barcodes but adopting RFID chips as an alternative is a better investment in the long term.
With the ability to replace barcoding completely and successfully, RFID chips offer a cost effective, productive way automatically and manually scan instruments throughout their cycle. The implementation of RFID chips give hospitals the power to control and track a range of items and tray sets with confidence and have data right at their fingertips.
While barcodes require members of staff to scan items, meaning that there is potential for human error, RFID can automatically capture and store information. Even through sterile packaging, RFID can register the items it needs to scan, while placing RFID portal readers at strategic points within a hospital allows for real-time, automatic information to be logged. The size and complex nature of hospitals means that this data can prove invaluable.
It’s not just tracking pieces of equipment that the technology can be applied to either. The data provided can be used to ensure consistent supply, patient identification, trace prescription drugs, and much more, all of which can be adapted to suit each individual hospital’s needs.
Among the ways hospitals can directly benefit from introducing RFID chips are:
Eliminating human error – Staff may mistakenly scan items or miss them out altogether. Thanks to automatic capabilities, RFID tech eliminates human error but can be switched to manual scanning when necessary, providing flexibility.
Making cost savings – All NHS Trusts are under pressure to make budget savings and RFID offers a way for trusts to save, on average, £3 million a year. The initial costs of RFID are higher than barcoding but the investment is more than made back in a relatively short space of time.
Improving patient care – The real-time information and ability to quickly identify patients and then access their records can improve patient care. With more data at their fingertips, employees will be able to make more informed decisions.
Time savings – The time spent scanning items manually quickly adds up. RFID implementation allows staff to focus on other areas, better using their skills. This not only supports the cost saving benefit but can mean you’re able to provide better frontline care too.