A recent report released by Grand View Research (GVR) predicts that the healthcare industry’s need for Internet of Things (IoT) technology will grow exponentially, reaching approximately $410 billion by 2022. This relates directly to healthcare supply chain management.
The Internet of Things and Healthcare Supply Chain Management
By definition, the IoT is any object that has network connectivity and is capable of sending and receiving data. In the realm of hospital pharmacies, the IoT includes smart devices and items such as:
- Radio Frequency ID (RFID) drug management systems (automated kits, trays and storage)
- Automated IV compounding systems (compounding for IV drugs)
- Automated drug-picking systems (robotic pharm-techs that gather meds for patients)
How the IoT Is Impacting the Healthcare Industry
Among the many benefits GVR purports that the IoT will have on the healthcare industry as a whole are:
- Increased effectiveness and efficiency in patient care
- Reduced healthcare operational costs
- Reduced errors and greater accuracy
- Real-time disease management
- Seamless integration with current medical systems and technology
- Improved diagnostics
- Faster healthcare record analysis
- Ease-of-use, flexibility and portability
RFID Systems for Drug Management Increase the Use of IoT in Healthcare
One of the primary IoT technologies that GVR believes will proliferate in the healthcare industry within the next six years is RFID technology. The report stated,
“The use of RFID tags for medication management, asset tracking and asset transportation and development of novel products such as smart pills and smart beds are expected to boost the IoT in Healthcare market over the forecast period.”
Dr. John Glasser, a regular contributor to Hospital & Health Networks Daily agreed with GVR’s viewpoint and stated that he sees the role of RFID as one of many expanding uses.
“Patients’ movement through a hospital may be made more efficient through Radio Frequency ID technology,” said Glasser, “The use of RFID sensors on patients, caregivers, rooms and equipment, will equip hospitals with the process analytics needed to identify and manage an optimal flow.”
IoT and the Advantages of Real-Time Medication Monitoring
The Merraine Brain (MB), a leading healthcare blog, stated in a recent post that the IoT is already having a dramatic impact on drug management. The post said,
“RFID technology has several benefits, one of these is the capacity to automatically and precisely identify without error, key drug and patient data.”
In proving the case for IoT, MB shared that a San Diego Hospital pilot-tested the Intelliguard® RFID Kit and Tray Management System, and found it empowered them to more accurately monitor inventory levels, reduce risks associated with expired and recalled drugs, and increase patient safety through streamlined processes. Bruce Harpham, a writer and editor for CIO said that as part of the IoT, RFID technology offers many benefits, including reduced expenses in managing drugs and an increased ability to avoid drug shortages.
“Adding RFID tags to medications and containers enables producers, consumers and regulators to have greater confidence in the drug supply chain,” said Harpham.
RFID, a Leading IoT Solution
Although more and more news and media outlets are talking about IoT technologies, like RFID drug management, these solutions have been around for over a decade. In fact, hundreds of hospitals in the U.S. and Canada have deployed RFID solutions like the Intelliguard® RFID ecosystem of products(kits, trays and storage systems) to empower them to:
- Eliminate human errors
- Eliminate medication waste
- Prevent stock-outs
- Increase workflow efficiency
- Reduce inventory costs
- Increase patient safety
- Gain real-time visibility of all drug inventory
- Make informed decisions based on actionable data
- Enhance security by controlling access to inventory
Research conducted in hospitals that use RFID to automate, validate and manage drug inventories has shown that this IoT technology has enabled users to eliminate human error completely from their drug management processes and increase patient safety.
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