Healthcare services are a critical component of every society. When a patient appears at a specific hospital, they expect that they will receive the necessary attention as soon as possible. In case of admission, the safety of patients around the clock becomes an essential factor of consideration for hospital staff.
That will include all factors that affect patient care, including infection control, wandering patients, a poorly maintained infusion pump, suboptimal patient flow within and between departments, an open refrigerator with temperature-sensitive products, the fire alarm going off, falls, among other things.
The implication, in this case, is that real-time location, status, and condition of mobile assets, patients, medical equipment, and staff has a direct impact on patient care. For that reason, lack of visibility can deal a blow to the ability of any hospital to offer patients quality services. Location data can help you address this challenge, which will, in turn, improve patient care going forward.
Here are some of the ways location services are proving to be instrumental when it comes to patient care in hospitals.
Running a hospital is quite costly. Part of the reason for this is that each hospital bed has expensive equipment. Tracking such provisions can be a challenge because hospitals experience a surge in the number of visitors, patients, and staff on various occasions every day. If a medic cannot trace the equipment they need within the shortest time possible; patients may suffer in one way or another.
Additionally, hospital staff work in different areas within a particular facility, and their goals are different at any one time. That increases the probability of misplacing expensive assets or leaving them unattended. Eventually, the purchase of new equipment becomes a necessity, which implies that a particular hospital may end up with more assets than is necessary for operational needs.
Location services and distribution of mobile medical equipment allow hospital staff to trace wrready-to-use medical devices with ease. Identifying tools that require cleaning and redistribution ceases to be a challenge in this case as well.
As such, team efficiency will increase, the time staff spend looking for equipment will be reduced, workflow management will be enhanced, simplifying tasks and automating work assignments will also be a possibility, which will ultimately improve patient care in hospitals.
On the other hand, an automated solution provides hospital supervisors and administrators with transparent, real-time visibility into the location and status of all mobile medical equipment, their last point of use, as well as the person responsible for collecting, cleaning, and distributing the same. That implies that increased visibility in hospitals yields greater responsibility, and it reduces the risk of misplacing devices or leaving them unattended.
Hospitals cannot afford to take chances when it comes to the safety of patients. That explains the reason why patient tracking in such facilities is paramount. The conventional wristband that all patients in a hospital should have is now smarter thanks to Bluetooth technology. Hospital staff can't ensure that patients are where they ought to be without real-time tracking.
Wristbands with Bluetooth technology allows medics to trace patients who get out of bed and move away. That ensures that hospital staff are available to help patients before they fall, hurt themselves, or even leave the facility.
Also, knowing the location and status of critical clinical equipment, beds, clinical staff, and patients is a necessity in the clinics, OR, ED, and other departments. The reason is that location tracking in hospitals improves departmental workflow and patient care. Medics can also use location and status details to reduce patient wait times and ensure that procedures begin on time.
Gaining real-time visibility of the availability of rooms and beds in hospitals as well as patients within and between departments is also possible through visibility boards. In turn, you can integrate the location and status data into existing hospital software systems to increase throughput and optimize workflows.
Wandering through restricted and dangerous areas can pose various risks to patients who do not have critical illnesses, but is preventable through location data. Sometimes, family members can move a patient even without the authorization of a doctor. In such situations, real-time tracking can help hospital staff trace the location of such patients.
Location-oriented smart wristbands can also save time when tracking and screening patients who are in beds in the corridors in the event of a mass accident.
Regular maintenance of the equipment that patients use in hospitals is vital in ensuring that it is in a state l to offer quality care. Maintenance correction, equipment recall, and preventive maintenance become part of the preoccupations of clinical engineers.
The task of locating equipment manually throughout a hospital's campuses is quite taxing. Collecting the necessary pieces for fixing specific equipment may be impossible as well if they are in use, or a medic is planning to use them at a particular time. It is also worth noting that regulatory agencies that audit hospital equipment maintenance on various occasions regulate preventive maintenance.
The problem is that achieving the preventive maintenance goal for regulatory compliance is not possible if clinical engineers do not have a reliable solution for tracking medical devices requiring their attention. Repairs or recalls of medical devices, on the other hand, demand the immediate removal of service equipment. Failure to do so can compromise the safety of patients, and that can have liability implications as well.
Location services automate the manual processes of locating equipment requiring maintenance in hospitals, which is an added advantage for clinical engineers.
One of the biggest problems for most hospitals is the ability to control infectious diseases. The fact that visitors are in and out of hospitals daily is part of the reasons for the increase in the spread of contagious diseases. Visitor tracking can help visitors identify a route through the hospital that minimizes contact with patients.
Regulating the movement of those who do not need to leave patient rooms is also possible through visitor tracking. Medics can also use this solution to minimize unnecessary contact with patients, which will delay the spread of infections that such professionals acquire in hospitals. Sanitizing medical equipment before reuse and tracking medical waste leaving hospitals is paramount too.
That implies that tracking medical assets is not an option because, beyond reducing patient waiting time, it minimizes the risk of other infections among those seeking medical attention in hospitals. Additionally, location services allow medics to identify patients with highly contagious diseases so they can take the necessary precautions when attending to them.
That means that location tracking of patients, doctors, and other hospital staff can play a significant role in tracking and containing infectious diseases.
It is unfortunate that some patients in hospitals succumb to illnesses because of failure to access necessary attention at the right time. That mostly happens when medics are away from such patients for various reasons. The monitoring of patients around the clock should indeed be part of the prerequisites of any hospital.
However, that may prove impossible, depending on the situation on the ground. Location services can enhance the tracing of the nearest doctor when a patient is in danger. Hospitals exist to save lives, and that is not possible when there is an emergency on one end, and a medic is on the other side of the building. Tracking the location of hospital staff is a necessity in such situations.
Also, Bluetooth wristbands or badges prove instrumental when hospitals need to account for all patients, visitors, and staff in case of an evacuation. Hospital evacuations are quite rare, and when they happen, doing a room-to-room inspection to ensure everyone is out of danger is impossible.
Location services enhance the tracing of persons in hospitals during an evacuation, including those with reduced mobility. As a result, rescue services will know where to find individuals who need help as well as the equipment they need to access a particular location at such a time. That will, in turn, improve patient care in one way or another.
It is not unusual to find long queues in hospitals, which is a sign of patient flow challenges. There are various reasons why this may happen, including lengthy paperwork procedures for patients awaiting discharge, difficulties in transfers between departments, and overcrowding in the emergency room. Identifying bottlenecks and designing systemic controls to avoid discharge delays and patients sitting for hours in hospital corridors is possible through the use of real-time data to monitor patient movements.
For instance, you can track the time a doctor enters the emergency room to gain insight into techniques for improving procedures in hospitals. Location data can facilitate patient transfers, alert doctors or nurses about patients who need special attention, and expedite some admissions through automatic check-in as well.
One of the advantages of using smart wristbands, badges, and tags in hospitals is that you do not need to change them or transfer physical charts. The reason is that these solutions ensure that the data available is unique to each patient and that it is accessible through the cloud. Minimizing cases of patients escaping through improper passage is also possible through location services.
Location data can notify cleaning services about the discharge of a particular patient as well, so they can prepare the newly available bed and room for reuse. As a result, this can reduce cases of bed shortages in hospitals. Also, the conventional approach involving sending someone to find a bed will not be necessary when you deploy hospital location services.
The reason is that medics can access details about available beds instantly using location services in addition to receiving alerts when the hospital is close to capacity. That way, hospital staff can plan patient transfers in good time.
Real-time location systems are having a positive impact on healthcare. Data-driven interactions in hospitals enhance efficiency and improve service delivery as well.
Real-time location data tracking promotes the safety of all individuals in hospitals by reducing exposure to infections, optimizing patient flow, and protecting workers from inevitable risks while at work. Contact us for more information.
The prospect of introducing a Real-Time Location System (RTLS) to your healthcare organization may seem intimidating, especially if your organization spans across multiple locations. But the benefits of deploying an RTLS are so compelling that you can hardly afford not to introduce an RTLS. The key to successfully implementing an RTLS is to create a strategic plan that breaks the process down into manageable steps. Below is a look at the benefits an RTLS offers and ten steps to consider when implementing RTLS in healthcare.
"Next-generation RTLS technology is as transformative to hospital operations as Uber is to personal transportation... Just as Uber eliminates the waiting and uncertainty associated with personal transportation, RTLS eliminates hours of searching, repetitive calling and paging to locate people and equipment, all the while automatically tracking key metrics to analyze workflows." - Ari Naim, Contributor, Becker Hospital Review
Before diving into the measures you can take to implement an RTLS, it is helpful to review a few of the key reasons why healthcare executives would want to invest in an RTLS. From time savings to a more streamlined workflow, here are some benefits of introducing RTLS in healthcare.
Clearly, there are many reasons to implement an RTLS. And while the nation's top hospital asset tracking systems are designed to be easy to roll out, the key to a streamlined implementation is to have a well-organized plan in place. Below is your step-by-step guide to introducing an RTLS.
The path to a successful RTLS launch begins with the support of your owners, executives, and department managers. Some leaders may bristle at the idea of change, worrying about the initial expense and potential disruptions to productivity. But if hospital leaders receive your RTLS with open arms, your frontline staff will typically follow suit. Here are some ways to generate enthusiasm and secure the support of your leadership team:
Now that your leadership team has embraced the idea of implementing an RTLS, your leadership group needs to be on the same page with respect to your ultimate goals for introducing the system. Outlining your goals will also help you select the type of RTLS to implement at your medical facility. Here are some of the most common goals hospitals hope to achieve through RTLS implementation:
Every hospital or medical facility has existing technology platforms, many of which will need to be integrated with your RTLS. The integration process should begin by creating a comprehensive list of the software systems being used in each department. Common examples include general hospital management software, accounting software, and operating room management systems.
Measuring the impact of your RTLS is essential to justifying future usage. This measurement process begins with a baseline measurement of the key performance indicators you outlined when you set your goals in Step Two. With baseline figures in place you can then calculate any differences that occur and determine whether they are statistically significant. Here are a couple of examples using the hypothetical goals referenced in Step Two:
RTLS solutions vary in terms of the degree of specificity they offer. For example, some systems provide an estimated location of a device by indicating the hospital unit where the device is located. Other solutions offer a much greater degree of specificity or certainty, identifying the exact patient room and space where the device is located. Before selecting a solution, review your workflow applications and budget to determine what type of system best meets your needs.
"Equipment tracking with the use of RTLS also saves time for facility staff. Being able to know the exact location of a tagged piece of equipment provides staff clear direction for retrieval — and ultimately allows them to spend more time with patients." - Josh Kelly and Nikki Tuft, Health Facilities Management
Ideally the RTLS solution you select will be responsive and able to detect activity between devices, staff, and patients immediately. Slow systems interfere with accuracy, preventing you from capturing real-time data on equipment. With a speedy system, on the other hand, you can capture mileposts right away, thereby improving efficiency.
The efficiency of your RTLS hinges on the reliability of the tags you select. Tags should be constructed with high quality materials and feature long-life batteries. Many hospitals use infrared tags, as they are relatively simple to use. However, the type of tag you use should reflect your goals for introducing an RTLS in the first place. Tag selection should also reflect the value of the assets you are tagging. Here are some tips to consider with tag selection:
Scalability is a key factor to think about as you plan to launch your RTLS. Specific points to consider include any upcoming plans for expansion, acquisition, or merger with other healthcare centers. Selecting a system that can easily be introduced to new wings and new sister hospitals will help your healthcare organization operate smoothly and with minimal disruption as growth occurs.
Transparency and communication with frontline staff is vital to a smooth roll-out of your RTLS. Employees need to understand how the system will impact their duties and how it will make their jobs easier. They also need an opportunity to ask questions and express any thoughts or concerns about the system.
The most effective way to achieve these objectives is to schedule a comprehensive training initiative that involves initial education, multi-step training, and refresher courses. Additionally, FAQ sheets should be prepared and posted in highly visible locations for employees to easily access.
Successful RTLS implementation does not occur in a vacuum. Progress should be reviewed on a regular basis, especially in the formative months following rollout. Through regular reviews and analysis of outcomes, you can identify opportunities for improvement and make any necessary changes. Here are some tips to ensure that you conduct an efficient review:
RTLS implementation is not a fast or simple process. By following the ten steps above, you can ensure that the process unfolds as smoothly and quickly as possible. But even more important than these measures is choosing a trusted software provider with a proven track record of success in healthcare. By selecting a proven industry expert, you can help ensure that you achieve your RTLS goals and continue to improve your hospital's efficiency.
The single best step to take when considering RTLS implementation is to schedule a discovery call with a Kontakt.io specialist. During this discovery call, you can learn how Kontakt.io can help you achieve the following: