But they also warn that compatibility problems between hardware and software applications, and a lack of joined up thinking from technology companies mean that the National Health Service (NHS) is not benefiting as much as it could.
Some successful examples given were:
- RFID tags worn by hospital patients that store their picture and medical records so doctors, nurses and surgeons can retrieve the correct data before administering treatment or medication. Examples include the Safe Surgery System currently in use at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital.
- Asset tracking – For the location of valuable items such as crash trolleys, infusion pumps, beds and wheelchairs. Applications are in the pilot stage in a number of hospitals where active Wi-Fi tags are attached to equipment. Return on investment is based on reducing inventory and time spent locating equipment. Examples of this technology of companies using this technology include Airetrack and Pango.
- Security for babies in maternity units – prevention of abduction. Tamper proof active UHF tags are attached to new born babies linked to UHF antennae and door security systems to prevent unauthorised movement of children. Examples include X-Tag and ELPAS.
- Security of patients with dementia. Active UHF tags worn by patients where location can be determined by RSSI to strategically placed UHF antennae. Staff can be alerted if patients move away from their ‘zone’. Examples include X-tag and Radianse.
Bob Cockshott of the Location and Timing Knowledge Transfer Network believes that use of these technologies is already having an impact on our healthcare. “RFID and other location based technologies are already saving vital working hours, reducing mistakes and cutting waste in the system. To really push forward to the next level we need more joined up thinking between manufacturers and better systems integration to really reap the rewards on a grand scale,” he said.
MEDICA.de; Source: National Physical Laboratory