Matthew Holt as a couple informative stories at Digital Healthcare & Productivity.com (whew, what a mouthful) about RFID adoption in hospitals. His first story asked, "Does Asset Tracking Live Up to the Hype?" Short answer, no.

Even if WiFi is good enough to track equipment and other assets,
there are now a few voices out to deflate the hype. Vendors such as Cisco, AreoScout, and Ekahau
claim their early clients are seeing good ROI from reductions in
equipment loss and reduced rental fees. But in the October and November
editions of ECRI’s (Emergency Care Research Institute) Health Devices
Journal Jim Keller, ECRI’s VP of health technology evaluation and Chris
Lavanchy, health devices engineering director, examined the adoption of
asset tracking so far, and concluded that ROI has yet to be proven.

They
suggest three basic applications for asset tracking. The first is to
locate equipment for preventative maintenance and recalls. The second
is to locate assets for clinical purposes. The third is to use asset
tracking for inventory and workflow optimization. Essentially, Keller
and Lavanchy believe that current WiFi solutions only work for the
first application, and they say that’s not enough to cost-justify asset
tracking. While these systems have promise, ECRI believes that most of
the installations to date are pilots in which the true costs have been
hidden.

Their study also suggests that ubiquitous WiFi across
hospitals is only available in around 20% of cases, and that management
of both the tags and the process of the location tracking is more
complex has been suggested. They point to one vendor, Agility, which
provides on-site staff for that inventory optimization — not quite a
painless, scalable solution.

Keller suggests that for asset
tracking “the hurdles are not insurmountable, but today is not the best
day to buy if you have a choice. Other more affordable solutions are
out there.” ECRI suggests that many hospitals are not doing a good
enough job recording the rental equipment they have, which may be a
place to look for easier bang for the buck. Perhaps that's why, as
Cisco's Frank Grant says, asset tracking has taken off “a little slower
than we thought in some spaces.”

Much like any other technology, RFID is not a panacea, but a tool that must be carefully applied and actively managed. Questions of spatial resolution, or positioning accuracy, have persisted in relation to various RFID technologies. Like any other sophisticated new technology, an effective needs assessment and disciplined vendor selection process are needed to ensure a good outcome.

Matthews next story is focused on the Pango-InnerWireless merger (more here). In his story, Matthew provides his view on what the future may hold for the combined entity.