There are three different types of RFID tags: passive, semi-passive, and active. The passive tags are the smallest and cheapest tags. They have no internal power so they require the reader to send a strong electromagnetic signal to activate the tag in order for the tag to send information. Semi-Passive tags are bigger than the passive tags and has a small battery attached to it. It still requires the reader to activate the tag, however, semi-passive tags can be read at a further range compared to the passive tags. Active tags are the biggest and most expensive tags. They do not require a reader to activate it. It is constantly turned on and searching for the reader’s signal. All RFID tags consists of two different parts: the integrate circuit and the antenna. The integrated circuit is used to store and process information, whereas the antenna is used to transmit and receive information. The reader transmits an encoded signal to “interrogate” the tag and the tag will respond with its identification and information once the tag receives the reader’s code. Every tag has its advantages and disadvantages depending the item you want to track.
So how is it important to healthcare? One example is the Hugs System, which is an active tamper-proof RFID tag attached to a baby’s leg as an ankle bracelet. If a newborn is abducted, it will alert the hospital’s security system to lock all doors and elevators and track the baby with the security cameras to locate the babies. This will help prevent child abductions at hospitals. The kisses system is an active tag attached to the mother and baby. When the mother is reunited with her baby, the system will play a lullaby. If the match is not correct, it will send out an alarm. Another example is the SmartSponge System, which is a technology system that helps track surgical sponges. The sponges have RFID tags attached to it, which is read by the system. This will help prevent surgical sponges being left behind in a patient’s body.
To learn more about SmartSponge System click here
RFID tags are now also used in the pharmacy. Kitcheck is a system that helps reduce the time for pharmacists and technicians to check kits at hospitals to make sure the medications are fully stocked and not expired. It improves efficiency and increase time for patient care. Click here to see how Kitcheck works. There are so many other ways RFID tags can be used in healthcare such as waste management, document and file tracking, patient tracking, staff tracking, and etc.
The E-pedigree law, which is a law that requires an electronic document that provides data on the history of a certain batch of product and/or drug. The CA Board of Pharmacy will require all manufacturers, wholesalers, and repackagers by July 1, 2016 to accept and forward products by E-pedigree. Therefore, over the next few years, I see an increase in demand for RFID tags. It is a great way to reduce counterfeit drugs, increase workforce efficiency, increase patient safety, and increase patient care time.
For more information, see the attached powerpoint presentation below.
Posted by: Christina Duong, PharmD candidate 2015