RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID is a tool that is used in a wide variety of industries including the health care industry. The goal of RFID in healthcare is to lower cost and time of common task and to be able to effectively manage staff, patients, and inventory in the hospital. RFID uses real time location and authentication systems to track patients, documents, equipment and/or wait room activity. RFID is also used to control access to equipment and locations with in the hospital.



Adoption of RFID has been slow in the past due to the initial investment that the hospital had to pay. Now that the cost of RFID has decreased significantly we can see adoption of like technology picking up pace. Hospitals are beginning to see the numerous benefits of RFID and how they can not only improve efficiency in the hospital but also the quality of care for the patient. It would be a safe assumption to say that hospitals will continue to adopt RFID technology to improve care and efficiency.

Patient tracking
RFID is used to track and authenticate patients. We have heard the dreadful stories of babies being switched at birth, with RFID technology it is virtually impossible for this or anything of the sort to happen. Dementia patients can now be found just by searching for where their RFID tag was last scanned by an RFID scanner, whether that be a doorway or other piece of equipment. RFID is being used for applications such as bedside care with a quick scan of a patients RFID the nurse will know exactly what medicine that the patient needs. The capabilities are nearly limitless.

Wait Time Monitoring

RFID technology is being deployed to monitor patient wait times in real time. The technology let’s an ER see exactly the number of patients in the queue and length of wait time by each patient. Not only will the nurse or doctor know the order in which the next patient will be served but the patient will as well.

Medication Authentication and Control
RFID is being used to ensure the right medication is given to the right patient. Nursing staff find RFID easier to work with than bar codes and appreciated the additional privacy that RFID brings to the process. RFID scanners can also pick up on any medication that is leaving the pharmacy without merit. Simple barcodes would never be able to pick that up.

Surgery Asset Management
The horrifying story of a patient having surgical equipment left inside of their body after a surgery is impossible with the use of RFID. The use of RFID is reducing the chance of overlooking things like sponges or other surgical kit components after an operating procedure. The technology allows one to tag everything used in a surgery. Once the procedure has been completed the patient is scanned to make sure nothing has been left behind.

Inventory Management


RFID can help an institution manage its entire supply inventory. RFID provides more real-time visibility that traditional barcodes can’t give. RFID is also being used to manage shared storage areas such as locked pharmacy cabinets. Access to these cabinets can be restricted, controlled and audited using RFID. Inventories inside these cabinets can be seen real-time and from remote locations such as a supplier distribution center.

Access Control
RFID is being used to control access to restricted entry and exit points as well as restricted areas within a facility. RFID security systems provide the audit trail information required for restricted access areas. RFID can also be used to restrict access to a computer. For example, a nurse or doctor can walk up to a computer, the computer will read the RFID and the log in to the computer giving access to the files that they have permission to access. When they leave the computer the computer will logout, preventing the chance of access being granted to those without permission.

Document and File Tracking
RFID Reader.jpg
RFID is being used to track and locate critical files such as patient charts and records. Searching for misplaced files consumes 100’s of man hours each year. RFID can also track if a record is removed and not replaced or if it is taken out of the room. helping reduce the risk of lost records or files.

Web resources




Related Terms

Digital tag