Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

RFID makes headway into healthcare supply chain management, says Frost & Sullivan

Steve Rogerson
June 16, 2015

RFID is rapidly making headway into the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, especially in assets tracking, supply chain management and inventory management, according to a report from Frost & Sullivan. In particular, the need for inventory management to reduce instances of loss or misplacement of medical equipment, supplies or drugs, along with efforts to reduce errors and improve patient safety, drives the market for RFID smart cabinet systems.

The analysis found that the uptake of RFID smart cabinets was likely to gather momentum over the next three to five years. The UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain are leading markets.

"The low infrastructure costs and quick returns associated with RFID smart cabinets encourage their adoption in hospitals," said Frost & Sullivan healthcare research analyst Shruthi Parakkal. "End users prefer RFID smart cabinets with cost-effective architecture that eliminates redundancies – such as multiple paths – and reduces interference."

Unproven business models and resistance to changing the status quo are major factors limiting investments in RFID smart cabinet systems. Since countries decide the frequencies used for RFID according to their spectrum and bandwidth availability, RFID device manufacturers also face the challenge of designing products that are compatible across regions.

Moreover, the lack of a long-term vision on the evolution of RFID applications from the perspective of policy makers, vendors and end users could stall the development of this promising technology. To pave the way for large-scale deployments, suppliers must focus on technical capabilities such as range of uninterrupted RFID, automation and integrated analytics.

"In the long run, virtual management and managed services that involve minimum capital and overhead expenses will gain traction over the outright purchase of cabinets," said Parakkal. "RFID cabinets with cloud-based integrated analytics that can be accessed through web applications will become popular, facilitated by the internet of things and near field communications."

Continued and growing recognition of the technology's potential to improve outcomes and efficiency in a healthcare environment will keep the RFID smart cabinets market on track towards swift growth, says the report.