Fear of Job Losses Could Slow the Adoption Of RFID

Healthcare providers reluctant to automate clinical processes.

RFID technology could help healthcare providers save lives, improve workflow efficiency and reduce the cost of caring for patients. However a fear of job losses and the belief that the provision of healthcare cannot be automated will slow the deployment of potentially life saving technology.
There is a widely held belief that healthcare is difficult to automate and that wireless tagging is an unacceptable intrusion into the privacy of both the patient and the clinician.

A recent report from the UK based market research firm Wireless Healthcare, describes a number of scenarios within which wireless tagging could improve the safety and efficiency of clinical processes and supporting services. It also highlights equivalent processes within the financial services and manufacturing sectors that have already been automated and, as a consequence, are less labour intensive and provide the public with lower cost products and services.

The report contrasts the different strategies the NHS and the fast food restaurant McDonalds have adopted to combat problems associated with hygiene, cleanliness and the failure of staff to adhere to basic procedures. While the UK health provider is falling back on procedures and operating practices that date back several decades, McDonald's is experimenting with a wireless system that ensures staff comply with inspection procedures.

The report describes a scenario within which a tagging system is used to ensure medical staff use a hand washing station after attending to a patient. Such a system would help stop the spread of an infection from one patient to another within a hospital ward. The report also points to applications such as the use of patient tagging to ensure appropriate medicines are prescribed and that the correct surgical procedures are carried out.

Health workers may fear that automation will result in the deskilling of tasks and job losses. However this report recommends a number of strategies vendors can adopt to overcome resistance to automation and profiles a number of vendors who have successfully positioned their wireless products within the healthcare market.


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