This story in CIO Insight uses Cisco's recent "introduction"
of the Clinical Connection Suite as a jumping off point to look at what
hospitals are doing with RFID. Not surprisingly, they're doing some
pretty interesting stuff. While not much is said about specialized
applications that benefit from RFID, like OR management software Surgical Information Systems or Picis, this story does dive into how some hospitals are using RFID to solve other more general problems.

Rockford Memorial has just finished a three-month pilot program
tracking 20 ventilators. But [Gary] Bayston [manager of biomed] plans to ramp up the system
quickly. He has a purchase order to update software and purchase an
additional 600 tags, and the hospital has budgeted to add 1,000 tags a

Bayston first saw the need for an asset-tracking system four
years ago. His department has to make sure 9,000 pieces of equipment
receive preventive maintenance, but engineers had trouble finding the

He then interviewed all the other department managers to see
what they needed. "The results I got back opened your eyes up wide," he
said. "We were just a little portion of it." He took the results to his
human resources department. Together they calculated that the system
was losing $4,000 a day in wages due to time spent looking for

Not all of it was medical, said Bayston. When planning an
asset-tracking program, he advised, "don't just limit to the nurses."
His hospital is considering whether items like food service carts
should be tagged too.

Bayston thinks Rockford Memorial will see a return on
investment within 12 months, and that returns will grow as technology
improves. He expects the cost of RFID tags (about $75 each) to drop by
half in a year. Battery life is also expected to improve dramatically.
In first-generation tags, batteries last only 60 to 90 days, said
Bayston. In next-generation tags, batteries should last a year or more.

Interesting comment about the tags. The tags he refers to are WiFi tags
and much more expensive than dedicated non-802.11 tags from Radianse
and others. From what I've seen recently, Gary's estimate of cost and
battery life are too conservative.

The story mentions some hospital RFID market data, a couple of hospital pilots and several RFID vendors. Here's the link.