September 29, 2009
By Srikanth RP, NC,
RFID technology which has been traditionally used to track assets in a supply chain, can also be effectively employed to track and contain diseases.
With the Swine Flu death toll at more than 200 in India, health administrators in the country face a mammoth challenge in containing the spread of the disease. The chance of infection spreading in hospitals is greater as there is no accurate way to determine when an individual comes in contact with an infected person.
One effective solution that administrators can use, apart from sanitation measures, is using RFID tags for both patients and visitors in hospitals. RFID technology which has been traditionally used to track assets in a supply chain, can also be effectively employed to track and contain diseases.
Says Andrew Tay, APAC President, Zebra Technologies, “Hospitals can use RFID technology to track patients, and effectively contain the disease from spreading. You could even find out who has been in touch with the infected person. Using this information, you can track the source from where the disease has originated. Once the source has been identified, health administrators can move in to quarantine the patient and the location.”
Simple RFID tags can be used on the wristbands of patients and their movement can be tracked across wards. Health administrators can subsequently analyze the log of all patient interactions to immediately take precautionary action, in case a patient has interacted with an infected person. Considering the number of visitors to a hospital on a daily basis, this information can help in preventing the breakout of the pandemic.
In a way, it is ironic that the same technology that was earlier resisted for being intrusive has now come full circle. RFID may well become a lifesaver.