Healthcare is seeing a growth of M2M connectivity in its medical devices. As these devices become smart and interconnected, there will be an increase in the demand for data transfer between devices which are present outside the body (In Vitro) and inside the body (In Vivo).
In medical devices domain, the need for a secure communication channel cannot be over-stressed, and it is an overriding priority. Hence, NFC becomes the natural choice for wireless communicating between two medical devices. The FDA and other regulatory bodies are also quite vigilant regarding the security aspects of the devices that must be approved before hitting the market.
Further, the data size generated by medical devices is usually within the capability of NFC to transmit without any undue delay, so it can easily fit the profile for a wireless channel for medical devices. Even if there is a requirement for data transfer rates exceeding its capacity, the NFC protocol can be used as an authentication procedure before other wireless standards take over the function of actual data transmission at higher transfer speeds.
There are a lot of medical use cases, such as implanted devices which reside in the body for years, and have to be highly energy efficient and conserve as much power as possible. NFC protocols are well suited for such applications, as the reader can activate the tag only when necessary and can also transfer power wirelessly.
NFC brings mobility and versatility to a range of medical and lifestyle devices and is perfectly suited for home-based disease monitoring and management. NFC is also more intuitive and easy to understand for elderly patients, making it easier for adoption and usage than other wireless technologies.
Since NFC in its passive form acts just like any other RFID tag, it can be used to keep tabs on pill boxes, blisters and other drug dispensing solutions. This utility has good scope for compliance monitoring, and anti-counterfeiting measures particularly for the elderly and for pharmaceutical companies doing clinical trials.
The benefits of NFC are not restricted to small, implantable devices alone. Large devices used for In Vitro Diagnostics (IVD), imaging, molecular diagnostics and other applications can also use NFC for wireless data transmission. Specific use cases for NFC in the medical space will be looked into in later sections.
This technology is being increasingly adopted for use in wireless transactions, including money transfer, loyalty coupons, transit passes, tickets, etc. Mobile handset manufacturing companies are increasingly integrating NFC hardware in their phones.