RFID in Healthcare


In this episode of The Identify Podcast, “The Benefits of RFID in Healthcare,” Debbie Greenway, Executive Vice President for FEIG Electronics, joins host Justin Starbird to discuss the company’s RFID technology and the benefits of applying it in the healthcare industry.

For more than 50 years, FEIG Electronics has been a development partner and specialist in contactless identification (RFID), electronic control systems, traffic sensor systems, and payment terminals, contributing to advancements in technology with innovative solutions for a wide range of applications and industries, including healthcare.

In the healthcare space, FEIG’s RFID solutions provide efficient inventory management thanks to RFID smart shelves, high levels of patient safety due to 100% treatment tracking, identification of medical devices with UDI-compliant technology, and secure monitoring of consumables via central database queries.

Their RFID solutions can be used in a wide array of healthcare applications, including:

  • Patient identification
  • Medical document control
  • Managing surgical instruments
  • Automated replenishment and billing
  • Authenticate sterilization processes
  • Medical equipment location
  • Inventory and supply chain management
  • Laundry and uniform management
  • Pharmaceutical and drug management
  • Hospital personnel, vehicle, and asset access control

Debbie explains, “RFID, in general, eliminates the need for the highly skilled, highly trained professionals in the medical field to spend their time double-checking things, calibrating machines, or looking for things.” 

Currently, it’s being used in many ways, including: 

“Patient identification, which equals safety when you want to perform any procedure, even drawing blood. You want to have the right patient.” 

“Inventory and supply chain management, where a lot of money is invested in inventory, you want to make sure you know where everything is.”

“Something we call ‘Nothing Left Behind,’ a solution addressing a long history of certain things, primarily sponges, being left in the human body after surgery. Once they’re saturated with blood, they’re impossible to see. RFID is being used in this now to identify if there are any sponges in the body before it gets sealed up.”

“Tracking medical equipment and sterilization, allowing you to track if certain items have been through the sterilization process. RFID allows for some memory in the tag, so you can write to the tag with a reader and post in there when something’s been through a process.”

“Medical device calibration. Machines are multi-use. You need to program them, tell them what’s going on, and calibrate them for the process that you’re getting ready to perform. Instead of doctors having to program a machine, ‘Okay, this is the procedure I’m doing. This is the equipment I’m using.’ RFID can do that automatically.”

“UDI compliance. There are rules about how long any particular device can be used, and so for tracking the lifetime of those devices, RFID is well suited for that.” 

“And blood sample and pharma tracking. Our business has grown greatly with COVID testing. All the samples can be tracked, and blood samples can be tracked, when the blood was taken, who it belongs to, that sort of thing, without printing all these labels and people having to read them, leading to human error.”

As for the future of RFID in healthcare, Debbie and FEIG are very excited about the direction it’s moving in.

“Here at FEIG, we only make the readers and the antennas, not the tags. We’re seeing a lot of companies that make certain things for the medical industry, such as IV bags and they’re tagging them right there. Things that are widely used in hundreds of thousands of pieces are being manufactured now with RFID tags on them.

This is very encouraging because before this if you wanted to implement RFID, you had to find a tag maker and find a company to put the tag on every IV bag that you bought. Now it’s becoming so widely used in the medical space that companies are integrating the tagging process with their manufacturing processes.

“We’re trying to keep close tabs on the industry, and we’re investing in development wherever we see a need. It’s one of our favorite markets here.

“In this market, you can really see the benefits for humanity which  makes it fun to work in this market and to be a part of things that help people and keep people safe.”

To learn more about how FEIG’s RFID readers are used in the healthcare industry, head to the healthcare page on their website and be sure to listen to “The Benefits of RFID in Healthcare” live on The Identify Podcast now!