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The world of medicine and pharmaceutical production received major overhauls in the last two years. By using technologies like RFID in pharma during all facets of production, supply, distribution, and administration, hospitals and healthcare facilities are increasing efficiencies and maintaining control of vital resources. 

Social interventions are how local governments give hospitals just enough time to increase capacity whenever another wave strikes, but the ultimate aim is to vaccinate as many people as possible. More waves of the SARS-CoV-2 virus will arrive and hospitals need to use every available technology to deal with the surges of the future. This is why deploying RFID in medicine and the supporting supply chains will be vital for combatting disease in the coming years. 

With RFID systems in healthcare and drug administration, providers gain greater oversight, control, and transparency of the entire process. 

Quick Takeaways:

  • RFID is helping combat counterfeit drugs in distribution and dispensary processes
  • With additional stress on resource allocation and drug control, RFID enables complete oversight of the entire supply chain
  • Improving patient safety and security is possible using RTLS and RFID integrations while creating immutable ledgers on blockchains can support the entire process

New Applications for RFID in Pharma and Medicine

The existing processes and frameworks deployed in pharma and medical supply chains now stretch around the world. It took a global pandemic to highlight the glaring deficiencies and force administrators to look at improving current systems and solutions for improved supply chain infrastructure and process oversight. 

Hospitals must acquire key equipment and components quickly while the pharmaceutical supply chain experiences immense pressure to keep up with rising demand. Deploying RFID in medicine and pharma supply chains helps to identify problems early, reduce errors in the process, and provides complete oversight over the entire system. Over the last year, the following four areas benefited greatly from the introduction of RFID in healthcare and drug administration. 

1. Combating Counterfeit Medicines

Enabling manufacturers to assign unique, serialized identification to each dose of a drug helps everyone from the source to the final recipient to track medicines around the world. While RFID already helps keep track of the manufacturing process, controlling every stage of the distribution and delivery systems with immutable records will be the next major requirement. 

RFID combined with IoT systems that use a blockchain to secure all records isn’t entirely out of the question. It will just take one startup to combine these technologies and ensure the safe and efficient distribution of live-saving medicines around the world. As treatment capabilities continue to advance and spread around the world, every organization will need to manufacture, track, and report on every dose, especially those that help fight the spread of disease during a pandemic. 

RFID delivers real-time data from the moment a product leaves the facility until the customer accepts the shipment. Connected systems can streamline the entire process but it will require governments, healthcare providers, and manufacturers to work together in a concerted effort. 

2. Improved Inventory Management and Drug Dispensation

Under normal operating conditions, inventory management and dispensing processes in healthcare facilities remain a challenge. Increased demand puts additional strain on every single element in the supply chain and when delivery requires special care, it could overwhelm legacy workflows. 

Global standards such as GS1 EPC/RFID are helping to control everything from drug shipments, medical equipment, and the delivery of smart-enabled medication using automated ordering. RFID tags in pharma supply chains can ensure the timely ordering from approved manufacturers and automate the majority of processes, eliminating errors and ensuring greater efficiency. 

3. Better Care and Safety for Patients

Patient care and operational efficiency received a reality check over the last year. Hospitals have been flirting with RFID and associated technologies to help improve operations for more than a decade. One of the new solutions includes using building infrastructure (such as access control systems) to protect everything from drug dispensary to using RFID Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) to prevent infant abductions. 

Adding these systems provide new parents with extra peace of mind. Similar deployments can enable physicians to locate patients quickly and increase the efficiency of operating rooms. In a 353-bed hospital, RFID reduced turnaround times in operating rooms by as much as 24 minutes. These added efficiencies make all the difference in a strained healthcare environment. 

4. Smart and Efficient Workflows for Patient Care

Physicians need access to the latest relevant information to react quickly to any situation. RFID helps healthcare professionals keep up with changes and, as treatments could span over multiple days, track updates to a file can influence the next stage of care. Implementing RFID systems in hospital workflows can streamline processes like locating patients, allocating equipment to procedures, tracking disinfection tasks, and accessing pertinent health information quickly. 

Administrators can collect data about operations and plan adequately for any future events while frontline staff know they have all equipment and consumables available at any time. Adoption of RFID in medicine and healthcare environments (using the proven use cases in retail and other sectors) is the only way healthcare organizations can maintain the required levels of care in times of increased demand. Preventing the need to allocate resources selectively may not be entirely possible but analytical tools and automated algorithms can help overseers to respond effectively to any challenges. 

Why Healthcare Facilities Should Consider RFID for Pharma?

Innovations in RFID tech including BLE and NFC provides today’s pharma manufacturers, distributors, and dispensers with a unique opportunity to track every aspect of their process. New applications are enabling everyone from government to private manufacturers to work together and face up to the challenges of the global pandemic, not to mention the existing issues in pharmaceutical supply chains stretching around the globe. 

Adoption of RFID was slow while the technology matured but now, every single part of the supply chain deserves a review and wherever possible, an upgrade. RFID is reshaping every industry and considering the importance of our healthcare infrastructure, using the latest technologies to improve everything from drug delivery to patient care should be a priority for every facility, government institution, and drug manufacturer. 

Realizing the Capabilities of RFID in Pharma and Medicine with RFID Journal LIVE!

RFID Journal LIVE! brings together the latest innovators, implementers, and technology adopters under one roof to discuss what’s capable, find out who is pushing the latest boundaries, and what you can expect in the future. With more providers now considering healthcare RFID as an essential part of their operations, taking time to exhibit at RFID Journal LIVE! this year should be a priority. 

To find out how RFID Journal LIVE! is shaping the future of RFID in pharma and medicine, register for our event today. 

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