Can the Healthcare sector roll out RFID across all ITS?

By Carolyn Price

Can the Healthcare sector ever implement RFID across the entire ITS enterprise for Asset Management, can it work and what is the impact?


– The purpose of this question posed to senior leaders was to first, determine the most efficient and cost effective portions of the healthcare supply chain in which radio frequency identification devices (RFID) can be implemented. Second, provide specific examples of RFID implementation and show how these business applications will add to the effectiveness of the healthcare supply chain. And third, to describe the current state of RFID technology and to give practical information for managers in the healthcare sector to make sound decisions about the possible implementation of RFID technology within their organizations.

– Healthcare industry literature was reviewed and examples of specific instances of RFID implementation were examined using an integrated simulation model developed with Excel, @Risk and Visio software tools.


– Analysis showed that the cost of implementing current RFID technology is too expensive for broad and sweeping implementation within the healthcare sector at this time. However, several example applications have been identified in which this technology can be effectively leveraged in a cost‐effective way. The thing we’re interested in at First Round, was Process improvement and Cost, but what’s the flip side? What are the investment opportunities we might be missing out on? If cost is not a factor, then what is the Human impact to having everything with an RFID embedded in it? This would be a drastic change in how they function today. So we must not remove people from the equation, but give people a voice in how this would impact their daily lives positively and negatively. Healthcare and Information Technology Services is already a very complex inter-twined relationship and the Human impact must be taken into account regardless of cost.

Practical implications

– This evaluation of the pros and cons relating to positive Business impact shows that RFID technology has come a long way in the recent past and has potential to improve healthcare sector productivity and efficiency. Implementation by large companies such as Target has helped to make the technology become much more economical in its’ per unit cost as well as its supporting equipment and training costs. Be sure to consider the audience and their level of interest. In other words have you told them you expect a certain type of response and within a certain time period when soliciting feedback on implementing this across the entire organization (Acute, Clinical, Specialty, Physician offices, etc.)? There are many good suggestions in these responses.


– The originality of this outcome lies in the idea that few practical and pragmatic approaches have been taken within the academic field of study for the implementation of RFID into the healthcare supply chain. Much of the research has focused on specific companies or portions of the supply chain and not the entire supply chain. Also, many of the papers have discussed the future of the supply chain that is heavily dependent on advances in RFID technology. A few viable applications of how RFID technology can be implemented in the healthcare supply chain are presented and how the current state of technology limits the broad use and implementation of this technology in the healthcare industry.

About the Author

Carolyn Price is a Hardware Asset Manager for Novant Health