Vincent Videlaine, Impinj director of business development EMEA, considers the resilience benefits of IoT. 

In the modern era, healthcare systems worldwide have never been under such intense pressure as they have been during the current pandemic. As well as the strain on delivering frontline care, there has been increased pressure on supply chains, as healthcare organisations compete for limited healthcare resources. 

But while the challenges have become more variable and complex, they are not necessarily new. And while there are measures healthcare organisations can take to minimise the bottlenecks they’re experiencing now, putting in these systems will also help build resilience for the next major challenge they face – whatever that might be.

Advanced connectivity has the potential to deliver big savings to the healthcare industry by improving productivity and outcomes that in turn will free up money to invest elsewhere in the system; adding an estimated $250 billion to $420 billion to global GDP by 2030. Notably, IoT, and specifically RAIN RFID will play a key role in delivering those efficiencies.

Safer supply chains

An efficient supply chain has an important part to play in the effective delivery of healthcare services. It is no exaggeration to say that in many cases, products used in the healthcare system can literally make the difference between life and death; so, it’s essential that they are available when needed and handled appropriately along the way in order to provide maximum effectiveness when used.

One national pharmaceutical company wanted to enhance how it handled its sensitive pharmaceutical products throughout the supply chain. It began using RAIN RFID to track more than 60 million products annually and developed its own fully Automated Picking System (APS), which enabled it to automatically identify items before collecting, boxing and shipping those items without human intervention. As a result, the company has benefited from increased efficiency and is now able to monitor product movements and improve inventory management in a way that is nearly 100% reliable, secure and compliant.

Manufacturers can now offer a package of connected equipment and related services that optimise overall results. Smart, connected equipment is shifting the OEM business model from one based on selling products one-by-one to selling a system of products, sensors, and data to help machine users run a more efficiently.

Enhancing inventory management

When hospital personnel can track items faster and more accurately, staff can better understand where equipment has been and when it needs scheduled maintenance. Medical device manufacturers can play a big part in this by continually monitoring equipment performance, making solutions more productive and useful for hospitals. This means equipment gets serviced appropriately, significantly reducing patient risk due to potential faults. 

To that end, one hospital wanted to reduce its number of medical errors and ensure patients were only receiving high-quality medical devices. It used a RAIN RFID-enabled Unique Device Identification (UDI) solution to identify and locate expired, expiring and recalled devices instantly to prevent them from reaching patients. The UDI solution integrated with the hospital’s systems and patient records, eliminating manual processes and freeing up healthcare professionals time to complete more meaningful tasks.

Improved hospital and asset management

In healthcare facilities, the cost of medical supplies, devices and equipment is second only to that of staffing. Here, medical device manufacturers can very quickly become a hospital customer’s best friend by introducing RFID solutions at the production level to improve medical inventory stocking efficiency. 

At one large hospital, cardiac telemetry packs kept going missing. At a cost of $3,500 each, the hospital needed to find a solution. Eager to reduce asset loss and reduce expenses, the hospital turned to a RAIN RFID solution. Each cardiac telemetry pack was equipped with a RAIN RFID tag, with readers installed at strategic points around the hospital. Hospital staff are now alerted in real-time whenever a telemetry pack enters a high-loss area. This has shrunk costs through effective loss prevention. 

Like most other industries, the future of healthcare is digital. IoT technologies such as RAIN RFID can continue to play a key role in enabling safer, more efficient healthcare supply chains as well alleviating headaches such as lost or stolen inventory and mundane administrative tasks. All of which enables healthcare professionals to focus on what they do best – caring for patients.