Title: Combining barcodes and RFID in a hybrid solution to improve hospital pharmacy logistics processes

Authors: Alejandro Romero; Elisabeth Lefebvre

Addresses: Management Sciences Department, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, C.P. 500, Trois-Rivières, G9A 5H7, Québec, Canada ' Mathematics and Industrial Engineering Department, École Polytechnique de Montréal, C.P. 6079, Montréal, H3C 3A7, Québec, Canada

Abstract: Previous research tended to focus on the pharmaceutical supply chain and on the medication process; as yet, there is little empirical evidence on the opportunities for improving internal logistics related to hospital pharmacies. This paper focuses on this under-investigated issue. The objectives are two-fold: 1) to assess the current situation; 2) to analyse the benefits derived from the adoption of a track-and-trace solution based on barcodes and/or RFID. The field research was conducted in four North American hospitals and in five external organisations related to the management of medicines. Quantitative and qualitative data was analysed primarily by content analysis and process mapping. The study identifies five levels of medicine packaging and examines the corresponding information that is required at each one. Results demonstrate that the relative importance of the benefits derived from a track-and-trace system differs depending on the chosen configuration: based on barcodes alone, RFID alone or hybrid configurations.

Keywords: internal logistics; barcodes; RFID; radio frequency identification; hospital pharmacies; medicine management; track-and-trace systems; information technology; pharmacy logistics; content analysis; process mapping; medicine packaging.

DOI: 10.1504/IJITM.2015.068504

International Journal of Information Technology and Management, 2015 Vol.14 No.2/3, pp.97 - 123

Received: 25 Apr 2013
Accepted: 22 Feb 2014

Published online: 18 Mar 2015 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article