Hospital Asset Tracking with RFID
In hospitals, having the right assets at the right time is critical. The inability to find equipment like ventilators, oxygen tanks, heart monitors, crash carts, or even small assets like pagers can cause extreme problems.
Not only is time a factor in hospitals and healthcare facilities, but most of the equipment is expensive and can be difficult to replace. In order to ensure that the equipment is accounted for and easily accessible at all times, these assets are frequently tracked via RFID technology. By tagging each asset with an RFID tag, these assets can be located by observing the time and place of the asset's last successful read by RFID hardware in the vicinity.
In addition to assets, inventory levels of inventory items in hospitals like medicines, PPE equipment, syringes and other one-use items are commonly tracked using RFID. To learn more about Assets & RFID Asset Tracking & Management - download our guide below.
Hospital Asset Examples
AEDs or Defibrillators
Does RFID Asset Tracking in Hospitals Provide Real Time Location?
RFID Asset Tracking can provide the near real-time location, or even real-time location with additional technology like Wi-Fi or GPS. Typically, RFID equipment is placed at certain intervals throughout a hospital like at all entrances and exits to each floor and in intervals on each floor. When the asset passes near an RFID system, the asset’s tag is read and that tag read is documented with a timestamp, relevant asset information, and relevant location of the read. For more information about Real Time Location Systems, read our guide - What is RTLS? - An Introduction to Real Time Location Systems.
Can all Healthcare Assets be Tracked with the Same RFID Tags?
RFID tags are great for tracking healthcare assets, but not all assets are created equal. The best way to determine if different tags are needed for different assets is to analyze each type of asset and try to group assets with unique needs together. (add in something about UHF RFID) The three main factors to consider when determining if the asset needs a unique RFID tag are:
- Group any assets together that contain/are made of metal
- Group any assets together that contain/are made of glass
- Group any assets together that contain liquid
- Group any assets together that go through a unique process that involves withstanding high temperatures.
- Group any assets together that go through a unique process with water.
- Group any assets together that might be exposed to rough handling.
Attachment Method -
- Group any assets together that would probably need something stronger than adhesive to attach the tag to the asset (zip ties, screws, epoxy).
- Group any assets together that would be good candidates for embedding a tag within the item so that the item’s function is not hindered by an RFID tag.
- Group any assets together that have a smaller or limited surface area
If any assets to be tagged qualify for one, or more of these groups, they will probably need to be tagged with a specific tag or type of tag in order to receive the best read range possible.
What do RFID Asset Tracking Tags Look Like?
RFID Asset Tracking tags have a variety of sizes, shapes, attachment methods, and form factors depending on the asset that is being tracked. Below are few examples of the types of tags used in asset tracking and the specific assets that they track.
RFID Label Tags
Label RFID tags are used in hospital asset tracking because they can have visual identifiers, barcodes, and RFID all on one tag. These tags can be used to track items like patient samples, medicines, and medicine kits.
RFID Rugged Tags
Rugged RFID tags are used in hospitals to track large assets that could bump into walls or barriers or be handled roughly. These tags can be used to track large assets like IV Pumps, Monitors, and Imagers.
RFID Embeddable Tags
RFID tags that can be embedded just below the surface of an item are ideal for tracking assets that are commonly handled where a tag on the surface could possibly interfere with the asset’s function. These tags can be used to track assets like surgical tools, surgical trays, and diagnostic tools. Checkout this article, Embeddable RFID Tags - What do I Need to Know? for more information.
Learn More About Asset Tracking in Hospitals with These Articles
Laundry & Textile Tracking
Transportation Asset Management
Library Asset Management
Hospital Inventory Control
Luxury Inventory Tracking
Logistics & SCM
Vehicle Inventory Management