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Global Market for RFID in Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals to Reach US$1.7 Billion

Businesses are increasingly becoming more aware of the need to track and monitor people as well as other assets for optimum utilization of resources. Taking cue from other sectors, healthcare providers worldwide have recognized the benefits of adopting Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology into their operations for enhancing the delivery of healthcare services. The availability as well as new found usage of innovative RFID-enabled information technology applications is enabling providers to scrutinize the administration and authenticity of drugs; track medical supplies and equipment in a more efficient manner; as well as enhance patient security and safety, using RFID-enabled identification bracelets for patients. However, with the increase in realization of the benefits associated with uses and applications of RFID, concerns are also mounting regarding the potential privacy implications of the use of the technology, particularly when RFID tags are attached to identify people.
The pharmaceutical and healthcare industries are typified by unique set of requirements with respect to RFID technology. However, potential returns on investment are plausible with overwhelming benefits that could incite even laggards to adopt the technology. RFID market in healthcare and pharmaceutical industries would be mainly driven by the demand for RTLS (Real Time Locating Systems) for its use in locating equipment, patients and staff, and in enhancing safety and efficiency of healthcare delivery. Besides, demand for technology would also be driven by the need to reduce losses in operations. Tagging of drugs at item level to eliminate influx of fake drugs would also assist robust growth in demand for these systems in the years ahead. Although factors such as out of stock and counterfeiting are not the favorites in any industry, these could have relatively more serious implications on the pharmaceutical industry. RFID enables pharmaceutical companies to pinpoint the exact location of a particular stock in case of a recall, record when a patient has taken a medicine and even communicate with them.
Use of RFID in healthcare industry mainly revolves around active RFID tags. These tags operate by transmitting radio signals continuously to networked receivers that are located throughout the establishment. However, significant uses also exist for passive RFID tags, which function by swiping a reader near a tag by the user. The use of these tags had been successfully demonstrated and finds application in areas such as reducing medication errors in a healthcare setting. Active RFID has mainly been used in healthcare settings for optimizing operations and in management of assets by healthcare facilities that embraced this technology early. Those clients opting RFID for asset management application do so for locating equipment in their facilities. This includes locating products such as wheelchairs, small equipment used in operating rooms and others.

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