Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Japanese hospital tests UHF RFID wristbands

Steve Rogerson
March 13, 2017

Japan’s Mie University Hospital is carrying out a clinical study to see if it can decrease the burden on patients and workload of hospital staff through the implementation of UHF RFID wristbands from Tokyo-based Sato.
The first step of the joint research will determine if handy UHF RFID readers have any effect on implantable medical devices, including pacemakers. The clinical study is slated to be completed by the end of 2018 and will look at all patients admitted to the hospital age 18 or older.
The existing barcode system Mie University Hospital has used for administration of medication and collection of blood samples uses three-point verification to cross-check data. The hospital sought to improve on drawbacks such as disturbing sleeping patients at night and occasional read errors caused by smudges or deformations of wristband barcodes.
Through the implementation of UHF RFID tags from Sato Healthcare, data can be read from a distance, making physical contact with the reader unnecessary. In tests conducted before the launch of the official study, data could often be read even with obstructions such as blankets coming between the chip and the reader. This is expected to simplify the process and improve overall speed of data validation for hospital staff.
“UHF tags are here,” said Yoshinori Azumi, deputy chief of the Department of Medical Informatics at Mie University Hospital. “They provide data verification at low cost and hold great promise for the future by easing the burden of nurses and other staff that cross-check patient data.”
In addition to these operational benefits, UHF RFID tags are lower in cost than HF tags and have a greater and more flexible read range. The low-power readers used in the clinical study had no effect on pacemakers or defibrillators regardless of distance according to a report by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

“Non-RFID wristbands can ensure patient safety but UHF wristbands do more; they improve patient comfort,” said Sato Healthcare president Hiroyuki Konuma. “The ability to read tags from a distance means that caregivers now do not have to unnecessarily move patients to read their wristbands when sleeping. This system is a breakthrough that can ensure the highest levels of accuracy and comfort.”