What is RFID?
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a wireless technology that uses radio waves to identify and track tagged items. RFID tags are small, battery-free devices that contain a unique identifier. Most often, RFID is embedded into a label which is applied to an item so it can be tracked—this could be a pallet, a case of product, or even on individual items like vials or syringes. When an RFID tag comes within range of an RFID reader, the reader scans the tag’s identifier at very high speed and transmits that data to the user’s associated software system. Individual units or hundreds of items can be instantly scanned using RFID’s wireless signal. There are several different types of RFID, but Ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID is the most common type used in applications that require high-speed, low-cost scanning. UHF RFID, also referred to as RAIN RFID has a longer read range than other types of RFID tags making it ideal for tracking objects in large, complex environments like hospitals and warehouse systems.
How Does RFID Work?
RAIN RFID tags have two main components: a microchip and an antenna. For pharmaceutical products, the microchip stores the item information such as NDC, GTIN, Serial Number, Lot Number, and Expiry Date. The chip itself is incredibly small, about 400 microns by 400 microns—barely visible to the naked eye. The antenna is a thin layer of conductive material (typically aluminum or copper) embedded into the label. The size of the antenna varies depending on the use case; but generally, the larger the antenna, the longer the read range of the tag.
When a RFID scan occurs, the reader device sends a wireless signal and read command in the reading zone. When a RFID tag receives the signal, it turns on and uses its wireless energy to respond to the reader. Responses happen in milliseconds with the technology allowing for over 1,000 tags to respond within 1 second.
Why Use RFID?
There are many potential benefits of using UHF RFID in almost any tracking or inventory application. One industry seeing a huge growth in the use of RAIN RFID is healthcare. When RAIN RFID is used in hospitals and pharmacies, it can:
- Contribute to patient safety: RAIN RFID can be used to track the location of patients, medical equipment, and medications. This can help to prevent errors like medication administration errors, retained surgical instruments, or the use of expired drugs.
- Increase operational efficiency: RAIN RFID can be used to automate inventory tracking and workflows. This can free up staff time to focus on other tasks, such as patient care.
- Reduce costs: RAIN RFID can help to reduce costs by preventing theft, waste, and lost productivity.
Overall, RAIN RFID has the potential to significantly improve patient safety, operational efficiency, and costs in healthcare. As the technology continues to develop, it is likely that RAIN RFID will become even more widely used in healthcare.
Other examples of how RFID is being used in healthcare today:
- Medication tracking: RFID tags are attached to medication vials and syringes to track their movement throughout the hospital.
- Equipment tracking: RFID tags are attached to medical equipment to track their location and usage. This helps to prevent equipment from being lost or stolen and ensure that it is properly maintained.
- Patient identification: RFID tags are attached to patients’ wristbands to identify them and track their location. This helps to prevent patient identification errors.
- Access control: RFID tags are used to control access to restricted areas in hospitals, such as operating rooms and medication storage areas. This can help to improve security and prevent unauthorized access.
As you can see, RFID has the potential to improve many aspects of healthcare. It is a promising technology that has the potential to revolutionize the way healthcare is delivered.