Avery Dennison RFID Blog / The Power of RFID in Healthcare and Food Retail

The Power of RFID in Healthcare and
Food Retail

"The concept of digitally enabling everyday products by means of a unique digital identity is opening a window of communication between the brands and their consumers, enabling levels of service and connectivity never possible before.”

As the world’s largest RAIN UHF partner, Avery Dennison has been innovating RFID solutions for this game-changing technology for more than a decade, which has helped drive its adoption and growth in the retail sector. The journey for RFID innovation is both surprising and exciting:  What started out as integrated solutions designed to improve supply chain efficiencies in manufacturing and apparel retail has evolved into internet of things (IoT) solutions like our Janela™ Smart Products Platform, which is helping to transform the retail experience.

Today, outside of the apparel realm, intelligent labels are catching on in other industries, including Aviation and Automotive. One of RFID’s most powerful and recently proven use cases has been its life-enhancing applications in Medical and Pharmaceutical environments, where breakdowns in operational efficiencies and use of out-of-date materials can have enormous consequences. Food Retail is also beginning to utilize RFID to help manage stock more efficiently to reduce food waste, a pervasive global problem, and for greater consumer safety.

Making Healthcare Safer with RFID

When it comes to healthcare operations, there’s little room for error. Whether it’s the real-time tracking of blood samples and other specimens from point of collection to lab, managing critical (and expensive) medical and surgical equipment, increasing visibility of medicine expiration dates, monitoring the whereabouts of newborns, or identifying staff locations and their procedural compliance, RFID tags enable hospitals, doctors’ offices, laboratories, and other healthcare facilities to better and more safely meet the needs of their patients. How do RFID solutions work in medical environments and what are the benefits?

Depending on the configuration, even the tiniest RFID tag can be embedded with critical data then applied to a bottle of medicine, a surgical device, and even a patient’s wristband. When the data is read, it can help to quickly confirm a medicine a nurse is about to dose is the correct one, to identify where a high-demand device is scheduled to be used next and its service record, and if a patient leaves his treatment area or hospital room. The net benefits of improved staff productivity, better inventory management, increased security, and fewer errors have been proven in numerous use cases, as are the potential cost-savings RFID provides to the healthcare industry, particularly at a time when a reduction in operational expenses is vital.

Preventing Pharmaceutical Waste, Fraud, and Theft

Medications are a key component of healthcare; they are also expensive and complex to manage. When used by pharmaceutical manufacturers, RFID labels aid in the accurate and efficient distribution of medicines to drug stores, pharmacies, and medical facilities, ensuring pharmaceuticals and anesthetics arrive where and when they are needed. Intelligent labels can also make medications easier and quicker to authenticate to support the all-important prevention of controlled substance fraud, theft, diversion, and abuse, all of which can drive medicine prices up and negatively impact a drug company’s reputation.

On the care side, medical practitioners and staff are often responsible for administering medications to dozens of patients a day in fast-paced, high-stress environments. RFID-tagged medicines can help assure dosing accuracy, which is critical to patient safety, while potentially shortening the length of time and the number of staff needed to monitor med expiration dates and manage inventory replenishment–resources that can be better spent caring for patients.

Food Safety and Waste

More recently, RFID technology is beginning to play a significant role in helping to reduce food waste while increasing consumer safety. Grocery stores and other food retailers are beginning to utilize item-level RFID labels to manage stock inventory with greater accuracy and efficiency than prior tracking systems, which has been shown to provide a positive impact on their razor-thin profit margins. While a bottom-line boost is important to business, so is ensuring optimal freshness of perishable and highly perishable items for better quality control and consumer enjoyment and well being.

“We are seeing an ever increasing demand for greater optimization and enhanced consumer interaction across multiple industries. The concept of digitally enabling everyday products by means of a unique digital identity is opening a window of communication between the brands and their consumers, enabling levels of service and connectivity never possible before.” - Francisco Melo - Vice President and General Manager, Global RFID.

In addition to offering greater inventory management, our Janela™ Smart Products Platform also enhances the ways brands and retailers engage consumers. It enables businesses to understand how shoppers find and interact with their products, which has implications for food items, especially during a time when there is growing consumer appetite for greater transparency of source and ingredient information, as much as with apparel. Janela links up QR codes with the EPC codes associated with the RAIN UHF RFID, allowing consumers to scan food or apparel products to get detailed information, including manufacturer, point of origin, and its composition. This is especially helpful to people with food sensitivities and severe food allergies. Janela also provides brands and retailers with the ability to personalize content and have a 1:1 conversation with the consumer, creating opportunities for product recommendations and even recipe suggestions based on what a shopper might have recently purchased. RFID also aids food retailers in the tracking of expiration dates for more strategic and timely stock rotation and in streamlining recalls of contaminated food.

The possibilities for integrated RFID solutions to impact our lives are seemingly limitless. At Avery Dennison, we are as committed as ever to looking at all the ways our powerful solutions can enhance how we live day to day, from how we shop and what we eat to how we’re cared for at our most vulnerable.

See firsthand how we innovate solutions at our state-of-the-art RFID Lab in Miamisburg, Ohio. 
Visit the RFID Lab

For more information about Avery Dennison RFID visit: www.rfid.averydennison.com
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