Radiofrequency Identification (RFID)

January 25, 2010

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a tool for identifying and tracking items or people.

In an RFID system, a small memory-storage chip (tag) is placed on an item. RFID readers (emitters) send out radio waves to detect tags and read their data.


RFID systems are used in many places. Some examples include:

  • Stores, warehouses and shipping areas for inventory control
  • Pharmacies or pharmaceutical distributors for pharmaceutical supply management
  • Worksites for employee identification
  • Transportation systems for fare collection (i.e. subway passes) and highway toll collection (i.e. EZ Pass)


RFID technology has many applications for health care. For example, RFID can potentially improve patient safety by:

  • Ensuring that patients receive the correct medications and medical devices
  • Preventing the distribution of counterfeit drugs and medical devices
  • Facilitating device recalls