Building Secure and Smart Hospitals with RFID
Radio Frequency Identification or RFID is a technology that enables unique identification of entities and prevents theft of objects. With the implementation of RFID, inappropriate assignment of tasks or improper scheduling can also be prevented.
In order to use RFID for prevention of theft and improper assignment/scheduling, RFID tags are attached to the objects. RFID readers then use Radio Frequencies to locate and identify the objects, and transfer the gathered information to the system on which RFID application is installed. RFID application interprets the received information to an understandable language before the results are displayed on display unit.
Most commonly used RFID terms and their descriptions are as below:
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) – A technology that uses Radio Frequencies to identify the qualified objects.
RFID Tags – RFID tags are sometimes small devices with embedded RFID codes which, when attached to the objects, allow RFID readers to uniquely identify those objects. In other cases, RFID codes are already embedded in the objects (such as self-adhesive labels) which, when scanned by RFID readers, uniquely identify those objects.
EPC (Electronic Product Code) – An EPC code assigned to every object (or a tag that is attached to the object) and is used to uniquely identify that object when scanned by an RFID reader.
PML (Physical Markup Language) – A generic language used to read objects’ information captured by RFID readers.
ONS (Object Name Services) – Gives the URL or official vendor’s site of the identified object.
RFID Best Practices for Smart Hospitals
A few key points while deploying RFID must be remembered and implemented while building a smart hospital setup. Some major key points are discussed below:
RFID Embedded Medical Equipment – In order to build a smart hospital setup, all medical equipment should have RFID tags either embedded directly into them, or to an RFID device that can be attached to the equipment. This helps the security staff of the hospital to keep a regular track of the medical equipment. With the help of RFID readers at the exit gates of the hospital, even the attempt of theft of the equipment can be tracked and prevented.
Smart Badges – It is recommended that the entire hospital staff, including senior medical officers, doctors, caregivers, etc. should always wear RFID enabled Smart Badges that makes it easier for their colleagues and other staff members to locate them in case of emergencies.
RFID Wristbands – In order to prevent confusions and wrong treatments, every new patient must be provided with an RFID wristband that enables the medical staff members to go through the patient’s information with ease and provide proper and accurate treatment accordingly.
Important Documents – To prevent the loss of important documents such as patients’ records, etc., self-adhesive labels must be attached to the documents, which further enable the concerned staff to locate them and extract information from them when required.
Drug Labels – Drug labels should also have embedded RFID codes to make it easier to identify them uniquely with the assigned unique tags (EPCs).
Blood Bags Labels – Blood bags should also have self-adhesive RFID labels in order to identify the groups and other important information of the blood.
Apart from RFID tags and other labels, it is also important to place RFID readers at proper locations of the hospitals in order to build a smart and secure RFID setup. Some key points in this regard are discussed as below:
Exit Gates – RFID readers should be placed at the exit gates of the hospitals in order to prevent thefts of medical equipment and/or other hospital properties.
Operation Theatres – Minimum one RFID reader should be placed in each operating theatre so that the concerned medical staff can be alerted instantaneously in case information mismatch occurs due to human error when a wrong patient is taken to an operation theatre.
Rooms and Cabins – At least one RFID reader should be placed in each room or cabin of every hospital staff member in order to prevent theft/exposure of sensitive information to unauthorized people.
Handheld RFID Readers – Each staff member of the hospital should be provided with a portable handheld RFID reader (typically a PDA device) with active Wi-Fi connection to access the hospital’s local network and the Internet in order to gain instantaneous access to the required data with ease.
If the above discussed points are taken into consideration while implementing RFID solutions in the hospitals, the hospitals can be made secure, while offering effective and quick services at the same time.