HIMSS: RFID still mostly used for equipment tracking

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Despite more interest in using radiofrequency identification (RFID) to reduce medical errors and increase patient safety, the technology is mainly deployed for non-patient functions, according to a report from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

The society administered an online survey to 222 participants in May to discuss RFID technology. Nearly one-third (31 percent) of survey respondents believed that the widespread use of RFID applications will benefit healthcare organizations in the area of patient safety, followed by assets and/or biomedical equipment tracking (24 percent).

Thirty-six percent of respondents indicated that the ability to impact patient safety and/or reduce medical errors is the most critical influencer for the use of RFID applications in healthcare organizations, followed by inventory management/asset control (20 percent).

However, in terms of actual utilization, 39 percent of respondents were much more likely to report that RFID technology is put to non-patient uses, such as asset/biomedical equipment tracking, and 26 percent used RFID for inventory management, the Chicago-based HIMSS reported.

For RFID-adoption barriers, 36 percent of respondents stated that budgets were barriers, and another quarter noted that they need a better return on investment analysis before they make this type of investment.

Only 16 percent of respondents utilized RFID technology for patient safety initiatives, the report concluded.