Large health care organisations are embracing RFID

McLean 24 November 2005Large health care organisations are moving ahead faster and with bigger RFID deployments than the industry overall, according to a new study by BearingPoint Inc., a global management and technology consulting firm, and The National Alliance for Health Information Technology. However, industry-wide spending on RFID is poised to dramatically increase beginning in 2007, driven by senior executives who view the technology as critical to helping achieve their organisations' business goals, especially improved patient safety.


"This survey illustrates that most health care executives believe RFID technologies are strategic to their business in a number of important aspects, from patient safety to operational improvement", stated Jim Gallas, senior vice president of BearingPoint's health services practice. "Over the next 24 months, we expect health care organisations will move from the strategy and pilot phases they are in toward first-stage implementations where there will be a strong opportunity for return on investment."

Key findings from the survey of more than 300 health care respondents, most from commercial and government health care providers, include:

  • Improvement to patient safety was cited as the top benefit for RFID by nearly 70 percent of respondents, with improved patient flow and general productivity ranking second, each cited by 48 percent of respondents as "very important".
  • 80 percent of C-level respondents described RFID technologies as important or very important to their business strategies.
  • 30 percent of large organisations - those with annual IT budgets over $100 million - have already deployed some RFID technology, compared to just 13 percent of smaller organisations.
  • Less than 20 percent of respondents plan to spend more than $250.000 on RFID in 2006 and 53 percent plan no spending at all. But nearly 74 percent anticipate investment in RFID by 2007 and nearly 39 percent anticipate spending $250.000 or more on the technology in 2007 and 2008.
  • Large organisations plan to spend considerably more: between $1 million to $5 million on RFID in 2007-2008.
  • Cost is a chief barrier to adoption, with 57 percent saying a major hurdle is lack of available funding and 46 percent citing the cost of RFID tags and readers as a major issue.
  • 60 percent of respondents said they have delayed some RFID activities while they wait for industry or government guidance on standards.

"Too many health care organisations are sitting on the sidelines, waiting for more direction on standards and privacy from the government", stated Rod Piechowski, vice president of technology leadership for the Alliance. "Meanwhile, the leaders in health care RFID have set their own policies for privacy, security and standards because they see RFID providing a strategic advantage in the marketplace. Now is the time for organisations of all sizes to begin investing in RFID so patients and their overall business can realize the very real benefits the technology can provide."

The survey, conducted in September and October, also found that RFID technology is already finding many uses in health care organisations, including medical equipment tracking using real-time location systems; patient safety systems such as for identification and medication administration; patient flow management; access control and security; supply chain systems; and smart shelving.

The National Alliance for Health Information Technology is a diverse partnership of leaders from all health care sectors working to advance the adoption and implementation of health care information technology to achieve measurable improvements in patient safety, quality of care and operating performance. The Alliance collaborates with health care and government leaders to accelerate the implementation of world-class, standards-based information technology aimed at creating the most effective, safe, unified, and inclusive health system possible. Since its founding in 2002, the Chicago-based Alliance has helped forge consensus and accelerate progress on such important initiatives as developing an industry-endorsed interoperability definition and creating a public directory of health IT standards. The Alliance is a co-founder of the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology.

BearingPoint Inc. is a global management and technology consulting firm, providing strategic consulting, application services, technology solutions and managed services to Global 2000 companies and government organisations. The company helps customers achieve results by identifying mission critical issues and implementing innovative and customized solutions designed to generate revenue, reduce costs and access the right information at the right time. Its proprietary research institute, the BearingPoint Institute, demonstrates the firm's commitment to analysing and responding to issues with a thoroughly researched and informed perspective. Based in McLean, Virginia, BearingPoint has been named as one of Fortune's Most Admired Companies in America for three consecutive years.

Nicholas Evans, director for BearingPoint's Global RFID Solutions practice, and Rod Piechowski, vice president of technology leadership from the Alliance, will present the results of the RFID in Healthcare Survey in a webinar on Tuesday December 6, 2005, at 11 a.m. EST. A full copy of the survey results will be provided to each participant. Participants may also request a complimentary benchmarking to see how their organisation's RFID adoption plans compare to the survey results. To register for the webinar, please visit the BearingPoint Web site.

Leslie Versweyveld

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