VIJAYAWADA: For a change, the Health Department has decided to go tough on government doctors and medical staff, considering a proposal to implement Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to track their movements. Apparently, the department's biometric attendance system has turned a dud, with several staffers walking off after swiping in for duty. The department now wants to set up a live monitoring system in government hospitals to keep track of doctors to ensure a disciplined environment.
“We initiated the biometric system to regulate and monitor attendance, but somehow many are managing to flout rules, forcing us to consider a live monitoring system. It can either be GPRS or RFID, we are likely to choose RFID as it is foolproof and not hackable,” a senior Health Department official said.
“RFID devices work within a 50-mile radius. We are still having discussions with department officials regarding the implementation of RFID," said, DMHO Chittoor M Vijaya Gowri.
Meanwhile, doctors associations have been vociferous in their opposition to RFID systems. “First of all, we are opposed to biometric systems and attendance-based pay for doctors. It is not possible for doctors to stick to the 9-5 schedule every single day. Are we animals to be tracked this way? We object to the proposal. Officials should rather focus on improving the amenities and facilities available in government hospitals,” said AP Government Doctors Association secretary K Apparao.
The department had earlier introduced RFID tags for newborn babies to ensure that they are not kidnapped. The effort, however, was discontinued for undisclosed reasons.
Radio-frequency identification uses electromagnetic fields to identify and track tags linked to it. The proposed tags will contain electronically-stored information which will be under the department's 50-mile radar.
The tags are of two types: passive and active. Passive tags collect energy from nearby RFID readers interrogating radio waves. Active tags have a local power source such as a battery and may operate hundreds of metres from the RFID reader. The tags were recently used to monitor Amaravati Marathon participants to avoid cheating and to ensure that they did not deviate from the running route. The RFID tags are also being used to track livestock.