Indoor location services have become vital for healthcare providers. The ability to track the location of assets, employees, patients, and visitors lowers costs and improves clinical outcomes.
However, purchasing and deploying the wrong indoor location services increases costs, delays deployment, and can result in tension between stakeholders. Facilities managers need to make sure that they choose the right vendor and the right services for their use case.
There are two ways systems can report asset locations:
While it might seem that X/Y tracking saves a lot of time, the fact is that it is a lot more expensive. The cost of real-time tracking systems is often an obstacle for systems and hospitals. And for the vast majority of hospital use cases, "in this room" is perfectly sufficient. Hospitals track people as well as assets, which doesn't require that level of accuracy.
When it comes to asset tracking, many use cases work perfectly well with a coarser grid. For example if a nurse is locating the nearest defibrillator, they already know where defibrillators are stored; their question is whether there is, in fact, a defibrillator where there is supposed to be one. For loss prevention, the system only needs to flag when a device is removed from the building.
There are a few use cases for which precision tracking is recommended. This might include medication in the hospital pharmacy or lab samples. In this case, a very precise solution could be implemented for specific rooms at a lower cost.
One of the most common mistakes facilities managers make is to select a system and test it without getting input from IT. This often comes from the false assumption that IT will delay the process. Managers may also be caught up in flashy demos and see a solution that would be awesome, but they don't discuss it with the people who need to implement it.
Not consulting IT can lead to the following:
While IT is the most commonly left out, it's also important to involve clinical staff (who will have to use the system) and other stakeholders in the process. If you plan on adding an interior navigation system, then talking to patients and visitors about their needs can also be helpful.
Make sure you know what your specific use case is and what you need. Most hospitals look at the following potential use cases:
A smaller clinic might be more focused on loss prevention, environmental monitoring, and equipment maintenance. A large, sprawling hospital has a great need for indoor navigation and asset management. Talking to all stakeholders can help you establish the precise use cases for your facility.
It's important not to overlook a couple of the things on this list that are often forgotten. One important use case is equipment maintenance.
Those new to RTLS often don't see the connection between location services and equipment maintenance. However, solutions can be developed that greatly improve equipment maintenance programs, and when purchasing a real time location system, you should consider this use case and how it can help you carefully. Here are a few things BLE RTLS can do to help you save money and time on equipment maintenance:
Hospitals and clinics often don't put nearly enough effort into preventive maintenance and properly tracking it. By adding this to your location services plan, you can save a lot of money and time and improve clinical outcomes.
Healthcare is a growth industry and at many levels always will be. Hospitals expand, merge, close, rebuild, and build on new sites (both brown field and green) all the time.
As a hospital system grows, it's important that their tracking solution can grow with them. When a new solution is implemented, systems often start in a single building or part of a building as a pilot then expect the system to scale up.
Make sure that you can easily scale any system you use. One important factor is to avoid the so-called proprietary trap. A shiny demo can lead facilities managers to purchase complicated proprietary systems.
Then they find when they try to scale up that they are limited to buying that vendor's sensors, and the great deal they got buying the first part of the system has evaporated. The best vendors don't try to catch you like that, but many smaller ones will. Make sure that you purchase hardware and software that can work on open platforms and meets standards of compatibility so that you can buy sensors from other vendors and slot in new software easily as you add use cases.
This is another reason to make sure that you involve IT in all stages of the project. Their opinion on both scalability and ease of use is invaluable.
Last, but not least, don't forget that these systems have to be used by clinical staff. You don't want to be pulling nursing staff off of their regular job to train on the location system or, worse, making people get certificates.
Make sure to choose solutions that don't just claim to be easy to use, but actually look that way to your people on the ground. Your ER director needs to be able to see the flow of people easily. A nurse needs to know how to use the system to find a clean IV pump. Engineering staff need to track maintenance needs.
The more you can centralize everything onto one platform, the better, so there are not multiple siloed systems that people have to learn. Ideally, your system should just work, with minimal effort.
If you are looking into deploying a solution for medical equipment asset tracking or other location services, then contact Kontakt.io today. We have years of experience with the specific needs of healthcare providers and can help you find a solution that meets your needs and helps you lower costs and improve clinical outcomes.
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