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RTLS Systems have far-reaching benefits for hospitals, assisted living, and other healthcare facilities.

April 25, 2022

What’s more, RTLS (Real-Time Location Solutions) Systems positively affect just about everyone who comes through the door of a healthcare facility – patients, doctors and nurses, security personnel, and visitors.

To put it simply, RTLS Systems are essentially a way to keep track of people, assets, and data. The technology behind RTLS Systems includes motion sensors and Bluetooth tags.

Healthcare facilities using RTLS Systems have seen utilization rates, and patient and employee satisfaction increase. They’ve even seen improvement in their bottom line. How are healthcare facilities achieving these results? Let’s look at some examples of what RTLS Systems can do.

Optimize Workflow and Processes

  • Collect key metrics that affect the bottom line
  • Raise the quality of data collected
  • Develop new efficiencies
  • Improve allocation of staff

Healthcare facilities that add RTLS Systems to their connected lighting and controls have a superior data collection and analysis system. It’s much more accurate and reliable, as well as much less labor-intensive, than manual data capturing.

RTLS Systems are being used to analyze response times and track and monitor care. In fact, RTLS Systems can automatically record and time stamp every interaction a patient has with a staff member.

For example, RTLS Systems can report:

  • How quickly staff members respond to a patient request.
  • How much time staff members spend in inpatient rooms.
  • How much total time a patient spent with a staff member during their stay.
  • How long it takes to transfer patients from one department to another.

The data collected by the RTLS System results in actionable insights and workflow efficiencies that affect the bottom line, quality of care, patient and staff satisfaction.

Improve Asset Management

  • Get more value from existing equipment
  • Minimize unnecessary purchases and rentals
  • Increase productivity

Did you know a typical healthcare facility utilizes just 30% - 40% of its existing equipment? That’s, in part, because nurses spend an inordinate amount of time searching for expensive mobile equipment such as electrocardiographs, infusion pumps, and wheelchairs. That’s time away from their patients. But when there’s an RTLS System tag attached to the equipment, nurses can locate what they need in real-time on their monitor or mobile device.

Tagging equipment cuts down on equipment thefts, too. And RTLS Systems can be easily programmed to alert personnel when equipment is due for preventive or corrective maintenance to remain compliant.

Reduce Response Times

  • Eliminate bottlenecks
  • Improve patient wait times
  • Potentially save more lives

The same RTLS System technology that can locate equipment, can also be used to find staff members when needed – even during an emergency situation. When rapidly finding the right staff member or piece of medical equipment may be a matter of life and death, RTLS Systems give staff members the ability to locate the person or equipment they need by simply looking at a monitor or device.

Minimize Waste

  • Prevent spoilage and associated costs
  • Maintain the highest quality levels
  • Increase patient safety

Blood, always a precious commodity, is in particularly short supply after the drop of donations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. RTLS Systems are helping healthcare facilities to monitor temperatures and humidity levels that could compromise their existing blood supplies as well as other critical perishables such as tissues and pharmaceuticals. What’s more, RTLS Systems automatically log the environment data, alerting staff when issues arise, with less room for error than a manual process.

Grow Staff Satisfaction

  • Reduce repetitive tasks
  • Raise the level of patient care

Many of the timesavers that are possible with RTLS Systems improve productivity and leave medical staff more time to care for patients. They also free staff from mundane tasks and improve their satisfaction with working at your facility.

For example, an RTLS System can automatically cancel a call when the nurse enters a patient’s room. And the accurate status of rooms and beds can be accessed with a few clicks on a terminal instead of having nurses perform a spot check by walking up and down the corridors.

Monitor Temperature and Lighting

  • Save on energy costs
  • Lower facility’s carbon footprint
  • Maintain a comfortable environment

An RTLS System allows a healthcare facility to monitor, control, and program environmental conditions such as temperature and lighting.

For example, sensors can turn lights on and off depending on whether there are occupants in the room. Such measures have been known to result in significant reductions in electricity costs.

An RTLS System can also program temperatures room-by-room to create energy efficiencies and maintain compliance for certain patients or supplies.

Improve Visitor Management

  • Reduce workflow interruptions
  • Increase visitor satisfaction
  • Improve safety for visitors and staff

Visitors often get lost in the maze of corridors that make up many hospital buildings and other healthcare facilities. It’s frustrating for visitors and could even be hazardous if they wander into restricted areas. RTLS Systems are being successfully used as navigation aids. Visitors can get real-time directions right on their mobile devices as they make their way to their destination, finding their loved ones quickly without the added stress of getting lost in an unfamiliar building.

Prevent Infections

  • Save lives while reducing costs
  • Improve compliance
  • Manage the facility’s liability

Infections that are contracted during hospitalization take more than a million lives every year and add an additional estimated $20 billion to healthcare costs.1 Compliance with established hand hygiene protocols can significantly reduce the number of these healthcare-associated infections.

Contact tracing also becomes automated and more reliable with an RTLS System, as does quarantine monitoring. The real-time location data collected by an RTLS System works as an early warning measure for preventing the spread of infectious diseases. It tracks not only the person carrying the infection, but also the other people, rooms, and/or equipment with whom they’ve come in contact.

RTLS Systems also make it easier to alert appropriate staff members as to which patients have infections that require extra precautions, helping to stem the spread of disease and helping to keep staff members safe.

Improve Safety and Security

  • Protect staff, patients, and visitors
  • Monitor vulnerable patients in real time
  • Know instantly if there’s a safety issue

Still-mobile dementia and Alzheimer’s patients tend to wander, a great concern for their caregivers. When they have a Bluetooth tag (perhaps in the form of a wristband), staff can receive immediate alerts if the patient is wandering into an unauthorized area. The System can also lock doors if certain residents get within a specific distance from them.

Patients or visitors sometimes become verbally and even physically abusive toward others. An RTLS System is an important part of an immediate-response security system that keeps patients, staff, and visitors safe during crisis situations.

Reduce Risk

  • Lower liability costs
  • Reduce errors
  • Improve recordkeeping

The costs of medical liability continue to climb. Superior recordkeeping can be an effective way to combat expensive potential lawsuits. RTLS Systems are allowing healthcare facilities to meticulously monitor and record their operations, creating a reliable record of the medical protocols followed.

For example, an RTLS System can be used to precisely report how often and when a doctor or nurse visit a particular patient. In the ED, an RTLS System collects data substantiating the speed with which medical care is provided. RTLS Systems provide a record of when and where a piece of medical equipment was used. So, if something unexpected happens to a patient, the data collected by an RTLS System can mitigate costly lawsuits.

These same records may also be used internally to identify lapses to improve workflow and reduce errors.

If you’d like to know more about what an RTLS System could do for your healthcare facility, please talk to your agent.