How is RFID Technology Used in Healthcare? A Beginner’s Guide

Although real-time location systems or RLTS ensure asset tracking capacities in various industries, healthcare is considered the most renowned use case. Hospitals and clinics have multiple opportunities to increase efficiencies, reduce expenditures, and enhance patient care, thanks to the tracking technologies.

Many types of real-time location systems are currently available in the market, such as WIFI-based, infrared, ultra-wideband, and RFID or radio frequency identification. Below, we will discuss RFID technology in healthcare – its functions, benefits, and considerations. Please check them out now.

Passive RFID


Passive RFID relies on battery-free tags and powerful readers (similar to what you have seen in libraries or retail stores). The readers send a low-frequency signal that emits vast amounts of energy. The antenna then picks up the radio waves via brute force. The tag transmits energy back to the reader but uses a different frequency.


  • Passive tags are immensely inexpensive. You do not have to break your bank even when you have thousands of products to check.
  • Batteries do not power passive tags, so they will last forever. They do not need any energy source.


  • Passive tags cannot help you determine where a product is headed. They only provide information when a product has entered the warehouse or left a checkpoint.
  • With passive tags, you would not be able to find tagged products unless they are placed near the readers.

Passive RFID is an excellent option if a hospital wants to track many items simultaneously. Suppose you wish to track 5000 boxes of bandages kept inside the storage room. The readers placed around and in the storage room will alert you when a package is removed.

Active RFID


In the case of active RFID solutions, the tags start establishing connections with the readers by constantly sending out signals. The readers collect location data from the tagged devices and send the data to the cloud. A proper location algorithm is then utilized for triangulating the position of every object tracked.


  • Active RFID tells you where a tagged item is in real-time. Of course, all the items must lie within the range of the readers.
  • Active RFIDs are reasonably priced, generally more expensive than the passive tags but less expensive than other RLTS.
  • Active RFIDs are considered ideal for hospitals because they hardly need any infrastructure for deployment.


  • Active RFIDs have batteries and thus, need maintenance. However, if your system is configured correctly, the tags would easily last for many years.
  • The ton of data flowing from the readers to the cloud can cause problems for bandwidth.

A significant portion of the healthcare industry invested in active tags because they assure exceptional visibility. They ping an item’s location within the facility after every few minutes.

Intelligent RFID


The experts providing the best RFID technology for inventory management said intelligent RFID resembles active RFID. It has battery-powered sensors that send data to access points, which then send data to the cloud. However, please be aware of the differences too.

In the case of active RFID, the raw location data is sent to the cloud, and an algorithm built in the cloud runs the readings. But, in the case of intelligent RFID, the tag runs the location algorithm locally and transmits the data to the cloud.


  • Data is transferred only when necessary. This decreases data updates and saves energy.
  • Intelligent RFID solutions can successfully support low latency applications such as nurse calls.
  • Intelligent RFID paves the way for comprehensive location accuracy and remains connected to all devices.


  • Intelligent RFID needs upkeep.

The hospitals that wish to keep costs low and improve tracking efficiency must consider intelligent RFID.

Now that you know how RFID benefits hospitals and clinics, please make sure to use the technology for the same. Opt for a provider who ensures quality along with affordability. For more information, you can check out the online guides on healthcare RLTS.

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