Yesterday I noted that the Biomed Listserv has moved to new digs. In addition to a new hosting service, there is a message limit of 450 words - sadly, only enough for one or two points for me. I learned about this limit when my message bounced, so I've posted it here.

James asked about RFID in hospitals: who's got it, what they're doing with it, recommended vendors, and problems people have had. The following are my two cents.

Besides infant abduction systems (which tend to rely on monitored choke points rather than positioning throughout the unit), there are only about 200 hospitals that have deployed active RFID in the US. Of that 200, most are pilot deployments - limited to specific areas or departments. There's currently about 10 to 20 house-wide RFID installations. This is not the rush to adoption that many (especially some of the vendors) expected.

There's been a bit of a shake up among RFID vendors over the past year, and some very interesting new vendors have come to market. One of these vendors, RadarFind, introduced their system at the last AAMI conference in Boston. (You can read a bit about them here.) All in all, the vendor situation is unsettled.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Different applications require different levels of performance, especially positioning accuracy. Positioning accuracy varies considerably among the different RFID technologies on the market. A thorough needs assessment to identify positioning applications and requirements for each application is the first step to selecting the right vendor.
  • The details around knowing where someone or something is at a given point of time vary with different applications. If you're looking for that Newport vent that just got recalled, knowing the general vicinity is fine. If you're trying to improve utilization in your operating rooms, location data is just the beginning - you need an application that uses location data to optimize a much bigger set of processes. Thus, the workflow to which your positioning data would be applied is also an important requirement to gather.

My view of current RFID offerings is that the technology has not matured to the point where you can treat RFID as a generic multipurpose piece of infrastructure that can be leveraged by most any application that uses positioning data.

Let me know if you'd like help with an analysis of vendors, needs assessment, or planning/vendor selection.

Pictured right is the back of an Awarepoint positioning receiver - they plug into 110 volt wall outlets.