The human race is going through the toughest of its times. It’s been about two years since the first case of COVID-19 was reported from Wuhan in China. From then, we remain grounded in all the joys that life offers us. Being locked at home or wearing a mask and maintaining social distance when it’s necessary to step out. Indeed, we have started accepting this new “normal”.
The daily COVID-19 cases in India are increasing at an alarming rate, and death tolls are rising to make things worse. Hospital beds and facilities are inadequate for the affected, and life-supporting medical oxygen is scarce. Business and the economy have crashed, and people’s verve has shattered so much that it would take years to heal.
While we enjoy the solace of our home, doctors, nurses and healthcare workers work day and night. Thanks to them for not losing hope and striving to find a way out. Scientists have invented life-saving vaccines and are still researching for the best conclusion.
They are fighting this disease, sacrificing their family and well-being. Thanks to science and modern technology for helping us tackle this disaster.
Thus, it’s vital to have constant research and development in the field of medicine. In the long run, we need the best technology and professionals. We must have adequate health infrastructure.
Smart healthcare is the future. How do we make our medical infrastructure smart? And what is the key role of a smart healthcare system during this pandemic?
What is the idea behind a “smart” healthcare system?
The idea behind a smart healthcare system came with the advancement of information technology. The major concept is to digitalise the acquired information to support healthcare.
Smart healthcare encompasses a multi-level change in the structure of healthcare infrastructure by substituting all traditional ways.
It brings betterment in patient-centred care, data storage, medical administration, and prevention and treatment of diseases.
Smart healthcare focuses on the future development of medical care. This will amplify the medical and health service experience.
Application of smart healthcare comprises:
- Assisting diagnosis and treatment
- Health management
- Disease prevention and risk monitoring
With the focus on making a smart healthcare system, smart tags play a crucial role.
Smart tags will strengthen asset and patient tracking in hospital and healthcare facilities.
What are Smart Tags?
Smart tags or smart labels identify and track an asset using a unique identification number or code. Smart tags consist of a barcode or a QR code that stores the info of the asset. These include its batch code, price, manufacturing date, name of the producer, expiry date, details of the receiver and so on.
Smart tags are extremely flat print coded labels. They act as a wireless communication that picks up and automatically responds to an incoming signal.
Laminated polyester or Anodized aluminium is used to make smart tags. Chip, antennas and connecting wires are the inlays of a smart tag.
How do we create a Smart Tag?
The making of a smart tag or label is like that of any other labels except while inserting inlays.
Inserting inlays is a prudent automated process. This is to ensure exact positioning for each label and to prevent damage to their bonding.
Smart labels, such as RFID tags, are often made of pressure-sensitive layers with thermal printing as the most popular printing method.
Although inkjet and flexographic printing processes can be used, thermal printing is still the most popular method of manufacturing smart labels.
What are the different kinds of Smart Tags?
- Barcode Smart tags: Barcodes represent data by changing widths and spacings of parallel lines.
- QR code Smart tags: They are the 2D Barcodes or matrix, which can be scanned simply with a mobile application or inbuilt mobile scanner.
- RFID Smart tags: Digital data is compiled in RFID tags and extracted using radio waves.
- NFC Smart tags: It uses electromagnetic induction to transfer data. Data can be read by an NFC phone.
- GPS Smart tags: Vehicles use GPS (Global Positioning System) tags to locate and position them.
- IoT Smart tags: The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of interconnected computing devices that are given unique IDs.They are different because they can send data across a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
Why do we need efficient tracking in the Healthcare industry?
Smart tracking in healthcare facilities involves two core technologies. They are :
- RFID allows effective tracking while
- IoT allows data storage and analysis.
A patient is provided with a smart tag upon their admission. This contains all their information. Their name, address, the purpose of visit, consulting doctor, medication info, history of operations, lab results and so on. The smart tag readers placed on the walls of the hospital will read and locate the patients and identify them. Their details are saved in the IoT cloud and analysed later. When the patient is approaching a doctor or lab technician, he/she doesn’t have to produce a hard copy of their file. Instead, their smart tags are used. Smart tags also help during emergencies like an accident or a virus outbreak. Also, when a patient is in urgent need of blood, the nearest blood donor can be located and called. Similarly, details of organ donors are amassed from the IoT cloud.
Efficient tracking will help in:
- Providing better patient security
- Updating doctors schedule
- Avoiding manual entry errors
- Ease of documenting patient details
- Patient satisfaction
What is the need for Smart Tags in Healthcare?
Hospitals are struggling with an increase in the spike of patients admitted daily. They have to maintain patient information safe and accurate. In this current scenario of COVID-19, it’s very demanding for the authorities to maintain a proper record of patients, control inventory, maintain data accuracy and track the hospital assets.
Smart tags are quick, easy to use and cost-effective compared to the traditional ways of data entry. They secure data and avoid human errors.
Proper healthcare treatment is ensured with the help of smart tags. The nurse can confirm that it is the right person who gets treatment and has an account on their medications. Further, doctors will have first-hand knowledge of their patients before consulting. Smart tags will provide all medical history of the patient and avoid unnecessary confusions.
Smart tags track hospital assets. This includes bigger machines like scanning devices, hospital beds, oxygen cylinders while smaller gears like surgical tools. Tracking helps in having a check on these things to make sure they are ready when expected.
Inventory control is a complex and time-consuming process in a healthcare facility. And Smart tags will make sure that the right thing is handy at the right time. Scanning of the smart label will also speed up the whole process.
What items should be tracked?
Smart tags help to maintain valid records of hospital assets and patient details. Thus, it encourages and ensures the insurance carrier and police department in tracing lost files or assets, if any. Smart tag tracking also helps in understanding the worth of those lost assets and helps in auditing at the end of the month.
Tracking is necessary for:
- Medicines and Pharmaceuticals: Constant tracking of medicines is a must to make sure they are sufficient enough to avoid any shortage. Besides, traditional methods of entering stock data is a hectic chore for the staff and always invites errors.Due to the exorbitant cost of some life-saving drugs, counterfeiting is on the rise. Smart tags are used for the authentication of such medicines.
- Surgical tools: Surgical tools like scalpels, scissors and clamps are needed for any surgeries.
They must be properly sanitized before each surgery. Smart tags affixed on the surgical tools will make sure of that.
- Single-use items: Items like disposable masks, surgical gloves, and plastic vials are all important single-use inventory items in hospitals that must be kept on hand.
- Large equipment: Large equipment includes scanning machines, testing machines, x-ray machines, hospital beds, etc. These are very high-priced and generally unavailable.
A proper record of these items will make sure they are available in good condition.
- Staff & Patient tracking: Smart tags issued to the hospital staff will track them and revamps their daily attendance and assigned job.
It will also provide details of the nurse and doctors on duty. Therefore, it helps in maintaining a digital record of the hospital staff.The smart tag labels of patients will store their details for future reference. And it will locate the patients and provide patient safety and satisfaction.
Smart tracking helps to:
- Recover stolen or lost equipment
- Maintain proper purchase records
- Maintain a document for insurance purposes
- Track stolen or misplaced assets
Important materials to be tracked during Covid-19
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- In Vitro Diagnostic Test Kit
- Needle Hubs
- Catheter Tubing
- Petra Dishes
- Ostomy Bags
- Culture tissue
What is the Importance of Smart Tags in Smart Healthcare?
Every piece of medicinal equipment must be kept in the greatest possible condition by hospital officials. Because if something goes wrong, someone’s life could be endangered.
Better treatment will bring someone back to life, whereas negligence will do otherwise. Hence it’s compulsory to have an assessment on the functioning of every asset belonging to a hospital. There are many cases in India where patients died due to a lack of ample medical equipment.
Hospitals need to organise their inventory and automate the supply chain and medicine distribution. For this, they must have the best stock management system.
How Smart tags helped in managing Covid 19 crisis?
In various developed countries, smart tags have helped in tracking the availability of hospital beds for the deserved. It has also helped in tracking various covid essentials and make them accessible when needed.
Hospital staff are provided with smart tags and are monitored. This data will help to know if an individual healthcare worker was in contact with any COVID-19 affected patients.
Electronic tracking and inventory methods like smart tags have outshined the manual data entry methods during this crisis.
A healthcare worker today is no different than a firefighter running towards a burning building. But this fire is unpredictable. We don’t know how worse it will become or when it will extinguish!
Covid pandemic must be an eye-opener to the world because we saw that in no time, the situation turned terrible. Despite having a promising health infrastructure, we failed. We must see our drawbacks and learn from them to avoid another possible pandemic. Hence, we need more efficient tracking in our healthcare system. We have to develop and implement smart tags from the grassroots level for a glorious future.
Hospitals and healthcare facilities have to make sure they have every important piece of equipment ready for patients. They must monitor patients for ease of management. Well-organised inventory is a must. An organised inventory comes with the biggest of recent technology. Thus, smart tags are the key to your healthcare inventory management.
One must make sure that they purchase smart tags only from the authorised agents. There is no room for any mistakes in hospital administration because a minor fault would even cost a life.
We at Technowave have the best solution to your tracking and inventory management. With our decades of experience and professionalism, we assure you of the best quality smart tags and accessories. We are also top-notch service providers in this field. We promise that your investment is worth it because we partner only with global brands like Zebra and Datalogic.