Focus on Quality of Care & Patient Safety in an Increasingly Value Based Healthcare System to Benefit Demand for RFID in Healthcare

The global RFID in Healthcare market is projected to reach US$5.4 billion by 2024, driven by the growing trend towards value-based healthcare (VBH) and the resulting need to develop integrated care pathways to ensure superior health outcomes.

Besides barcodes, RFID is another asset tracking technology that is being widely adopted in various sectors. RFID employs a small computer chip and transmits information through radio waves. The healthcare sector has been recognizing the potential of the technology and the advantages it has been offering in other sectors and therefore has been making efforts to use this technology. Given the stiff competition in the healthcare sector, gaining an edge is critical to surviving and growing in the market. Leading global healthcare providers are equipped with large and sophisticated marketing teams who help gain patients even from foreign markets. With insurance caps acting as challenges to the amount that can be charged by providers, they are making efforts to gain an edge by attempting to increase patient volumes. Therefore, moving patients quickly and effectively in a healthcare unit is becoming important, and RFID technology is considered to make this feasible. The technology offers visibility, which enables facilities to check-in patients quickly and also allocate the suitable medical personnel. Therefore, RFID holds immense potential to enhance patient care, which is important for healthcare providers.

RFID tags have the capability to read as well as write information, which makes them relatively versatile. Further, a RFID tag is capable of autonomous communication by gathering and displaying data instantly. In healthcare settings, several sensitive materials, such as blood, have significant importance and need to be constantly monitored. In this context, the real-time characteristic feature of RFID proves to be advantageous. Surgical procedures are another area that RFID plays a key role. The tagging of medical devices enables hospitals to trace all key devices that are needed during surgical procedures quickly, and therefore enhance patient safety. Currently, various types of medical devices are needed to have a permanent mark, including producer information and unique identifier. The benefits provided by RFID with regard to lowering death rates and increasing efficiencies have resulted in regulations standardizing their use. In the US, the FDA requires all medical devices in the country to have a unique device identifier (UDI).

Smart cabinets represent an evolving market opportunity given the importance of maintaining and tracking medical supplies. RFID-enabled medical supply cabinets (or smart cabinets) prevent the loss or misplacement of supplies and also help medical staff to track status of their usage by patients, the time they were accessed, and their expiration dates, so as to minimize wastage and cut costs. Apart from reducing inventory wastage and ensuring vital drugs are always in stock, RFID smart cabinets also enable nurses to focus on patient care rather than inventory records and manual counting.

The United States represents the largest market worldwide supported by the high incidence of drug counterfeits, favorable government initiatives and the need to enhance operational workflows, and cut down costs. Asia-Pacific ranks as the fastest growing market with a CAGR of 23.2% during the analysis period, led by factors such as competitive pharma drug manufacturing sector; focus on RFID as a security measure to optimize supply chain efficiency by weeding out the threat of counterfeit drug trading; growing number of innovative drugs going off patent and a parallel boom in generic drug manufacturing; strong commercialization of the smart hospitals concept; rise of medical tourism and the ensuing focus on achieving excellence of care through the use of RFID to enhance patient safety and enable infection control.

Major players in the market include Dolphin RFID Pvt. Ltd (India), GAO RFID Inc (Canada), GE Healthcare (UK), Grifols, S.A (Spain), IBM Corporation (USA), Impinj, Inc. (USA), LogiTag Ltd. (Israel), metraTec GmbH (Germany), Mobile Aspects Inc. (USA), Smartrac NV (The Netherlands), STANLEY Healthcare (USA), Terso Solutions Inc (USA), TOSHIBA TEC CORPORATION (Japan), WaveMark, Inc. (USA), Zebra Technologies Corporation (USA), among others.

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