Radiofrequency identification (RFID) is a system based on wireless technology which utilizes radio waves for collecting data from a tag attached to an object, for various purposes like automatic identification and tracking of objects. RFID system comprises of three major components – tags, readers and middleware. RFID tags and readers are further subdivided into active and passive. The active RFID devices are powered by inbuilt power source while passive RFID devices derive their power from the electromagnetic waves emitted by the readers. RFID printers and cabinets have expanded the scope of application of RFID in healthcare.
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One of the most commonly used wireless communication technologies today, RFID finds wide-ranging applications that are not limited to a particular industry. In the healthcare sector, specifically, the uses of RFID range from counterfeit drug tracking to equipment and patient identification to monitoring blood transfer and other critical functions in the supply chain.
The report segments the global RFID market in healthcare based on component type into RFID tags, RFID readers, RFID printers, RFID cabinets, and RFID middleware. By application, the market is segmented into: medicine tracking, supply chain, people identification and tracking, equipment tracking, and medical report, samples and blood transfer tracking. Likewise, by geography, the market is segmented into: Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and Rest of the World.
However, the adoption as RFID as a monitoring and tracking tool in the healthcare industry hasn’t been especially encouraging in the recent past because barcodes have already established themselves as the preferred method for this very purpose. Companies offering RFID products and solutions to the healthcare sector, will, thus face tough competition from barcode technology in the coming years. The report’s authors, however, state that despite these hurdles, there is now heightened awareness about the long term benefits of RFID, which include cost savings, improved accuracy, and enhanced automation. These factors will see entities in the healthcare sector adopt radiofrequency identification, more so in mature markets.
With a massive number of low-cost RFID component manufacturers in China, the country has been at the forefront of the UHF and HF tag supply, making it difficult for other suppliers in North America and Europe to compete aggressively. This situation is further compounded in regions such as Europe that are still reeling from a recent economic crisis, which has prompted hospitals to adopt cost-saving measures. The scenario in Asia Pacific is different in that there is a massive scope for the deployment of radiofrequency identification devices, but smaller hospitals in Asia Pacific and Rest of the World consider RFID as an excessive tool.