Technology for locating and tracking employees, visitors, and other occupants of any sizable facility is now recognized as a powerful innovation for increasing safety, responding to emergencies, enabling more effective communication, and enhancing overall productivity.

Few if any types of facilities have greater potential to benefit from Bluetooth tags and monitoring systems than the spectrum of healthcare facilities: community/teaching hospitals, federal government hospitals, psychiatric institutions, long-term care facilities, and many others. A white paper from the Centre for Health Solutions of the international consulting firm Deloitte discussed how Bluetooth badges and related technology are transforming health care and social care.

The safe and efficient operation of these facilities depends perhaps more than anything else on communication and collaboration of all staff at all levels—communication that is fast and reliable in emergencies—and the staff monitoring of patients.

Bluetooth beacon healthcare tracking solution is cloud-based software for tracking staff members, patients, and assets in real-time. It is easy to use and helps healthcare administrators and managers to improve in-patient safety, serviceability, and hospital maintenance. Using the software along with the beacon badges and gateway devices allows accurate tracking, attendance and security monitoring, and safe operation of healthcare facilities. The system can be accessed from a desktop or mobile devices by authorized persons, making its benefits available from any point in the facility by appropriate staff.

BLE Card Tags for staff tracking and hardware are constantly refined to meet precisely the challenges that face any size healthcare facility:

Efficiency

With continuous staff tracking/location on gateway monitoring, tasks as simple as tracking attendance (no lining up to "check-in") and as diverse as finding and summoning physician, nursing, and other staff to a patient room, the emergency room, or any surgical/laboratory/technology suite are easier than ever. They no longer require a search, paging, or phone calls. With wristbands or cards, the system automatically registers every time a tag holder enters or exits the facility or a specific area of it. Any authorized staff member can locate and reach other staff at gateway locations. This increases efficiency and visibility throughout any facility.  For example, there is no need to guess about when a staff member heading for the surgical suite or ER will arrive.

Emergencies

With BLE technology, emergencies can be handled more rapidly and efficiently. All required personnel can be located and summoned virtually simultaneously, reducing critical lag times. The reliability and speed of the system reduce the need for gathering and waiting at the ER and other locations. The same efficient response is available for getting any required staff for an emergency in any patient room. Of course, in the case of a rare but unfortunately possible facility emergency such as fire or police action, the system instantly and reliably proves its invaluable functionality.

Monitoring patient movements and safety

BLE tag technology reduces the time and increases the efficiency of staff in monitoring the real-time movement and location of all patients anywhere in the facility. With patients in hospital care who take recommended exercise within the purview of a nursing station, the task might be limited to locating them for a scheduled treatment. But at residential facilities, including those for seniors and for psychiatric patients, the wider daylong movement of patients must take account of both unanticipated behavior and unexpected risks. Tags for patients not only makes their location constantly visible on gateway screens; their tags can be equipped with signals to alert them. These signals can be generated by staff or for certain defined situations be made automatically. Patient falls, wandering beyond limits, entering patient rooms or other rooms, conflicts between patients—these are just a few examples of emergencies immediately signaled by beacon badge technology.

Making visiting the hospital a better experience

Beacon wayfinding technology also can help visitors to your facility in a multitude of ways. Finding rooms, physician offices, other facilities, and other destinations can be assisted by temporary tags that also increase safety by monitoring visitor locations at all times. The technology also applies to contract workers, deliveries, and special services. With real-time location information, the experience of the patient and the patient's family can be improved with turn-by-turn navigation.

Saving staff time on compliance and other routine tasks

Responsibility for healthcare facility staff for routine but necessary tasks such as compliance with regulations for daily inventorying medicines, compliance with other requirements such as temperature control in facilities, and need to check doors of off-limits facilities can be automated by use of Bluetooth technology. So can staff night-time checks to verify patients are in their rooms, that restrooms are clear, and emergency equipment is back in place.

Helping staff to access assets

Studies show that a significant loss or misplacement of expensive equipment, instruments, and other hospital assets has forced some hospitals to keep larger inventories of owned or rented equipment to make them available when needed. At the same time, staff time is often spent searching for equipment or instruments of this kind. BLE technology can tag all such assets, including, for example, wheelchairs or infusion pumps, so they can be located immediately from any gateway station. The larger the facility, the larger this problem may be.

Enhancing staff safety

Studies regularly report that hospital personnel, including nurses, are at risk of being attacked on the premises of the facility and report a level of fear in certain circumstances and places. Beacon badge technology not only monitors the movement and location of all staff but includes on each badge emergency signaling buttons that staff can use to summon help to their known locations. In large facilities, there are certain areas and certain times of the day that are reported by staff to raise concerns. Card Tags emergency signaling can reduce these fears and increase safety.

Monitoring staff routines

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for hospitals to deal with more—and more frequently contagious—patients, safety routines as simple but essential as hand washing for all staff took on greater urgency. Limiting certain kinds of contact also became an issue as unnecessary meetings and meetings of certain sizes were limited. BLE technology was able to be adapted and refined to make monitoring more efficient. Limited-access facilities for which authorization is required can be accessed without a key and the entry and exit of staff members is tracked in real-time and a record is made. This is only one of the physical access control systems made possible—and controlled from a single system location—by the technology.

COVID-19 applications

Apart from those specific issues, of course, tracking patients and staff from the point of view of exposure to infection and spreading contagion have become essential functions. BLE technology has been adapted to tracking functionalities in medical facilities of all types and sizes. Not only is real-time tracking possible, but the data automatically collected and analyzed by Beacon badge technology is available for tracing earlier contacts of specific individuals—and trails of contacts—when an infected individual is identified.

For the most part, hospitals and other health care facilities such as nursing homes cannot allow their employees to work remotely. With employees still regularly reporting for work and interacting with other staff and patients, contract tracing is obviously crucial for hospitals to reduce uncertainty among staff and reassure patients. This applies especially to a hospital or nursing home's elderly patients or patients with comorbidities that make them highly vulnerable to COVID-19. The contract tracing-using Beacon cards can help prevent employees and visitors from entering a high-potential risk area and thus increase confidence in working in and visiting your facility.

The COVID-19 health crisis has created an unprecedented amount of insecurity and fear among many individuals. People are more aware than ever of the potential to spread germs and get sick when they come into contact with others. High-risk individuals, including both the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, have been forced to increase the measures they take to protect themselves. This can make the difference in some cases between choosing one facility over another. In our recent blog post, we described how the Bluetooth badges system can be applied by health care facilities for a range of contact tracing solutions and for real-time monitoring to ensure safety in the facility.

Card Tags for Healthcare

The Bluetooth badges system

Bluetooth Low Energy reliable beacons and tags are part of a wireless personal area network technology designed and developed for novel applications in healthcare and other industries. For these and many other problems and challenges, Kontakt.io's portfolio of complete IoT and location solutions, designed with beacons and software and on a cloud platform, provides systems that are affordable and easy to install and setup. Bluetooth 5-compatible devices provide four times the battery performance of comparable Wi-Fi and RFID tags. Our Card Tag can last up to three years and has a 40-meter range. The reliable hardware from Kontakt.io is used by more than 20,000 customers in half-a-dozen major industries to deliver enterprise-grade security and outstanding battery performance. Everything is easy to deploy, with beacons and tags that have pre-configured profiles (iBeacon, Eddystone, or both), identifiers, and settings.

Next steps!

To learn more about these innovative, novel products for health care, get in touch with our team today. We can discuss your individual requirements and use cases and work out proposals for a viable solution to your operating challenges. The first step is starting the conversation. You can set up a demonstration of our products and capabilities of the system at any time.

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And be sure to check back here regularly for information, insights, and updates on all aspects of tracking solution technology and how healthcare facilities are using it today. To follow news from Kontakt, sign up to our newsletter.

Meanwhile, don't be a stranger. You can follow us daily on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest reports, new developments in tracking technology, and information on use cases that are a source of new ideas for making the most of Kontakt.io products.

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Clinical engineers are problem solvers. Whether they are in hospitals, private practices, or industry settings, they work with complex human and technological systems. These hard-working individuals tend to wear a lot of hats, including technology managers for medical equipment systems. 


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Hospital-based clinical engineers are responsible for making sure medical devices are effective, safe, and accounted for. They handle service contract management, the data processing systems necessary for the management of medical equipment, and coordinate not only service agreements but internal operations too. On top of all that, they're responsible for ensuring complete compliance with all laws and regulations governing medical devices with the Joint Commission, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and more.

Medical Device Maintenance

Maintaining medical devices relates to all activities needed to keep them operating at an adequate level and minimizing any downtime in their use. The responsibility involves both corrective and preventive maintenance. Preventive maintenance (PM) for medical devices are handled as scheduled events. The devices need to be evaluated for the frequency of relative maintenance and the impact on patient care if the device fails.

There are also required inspections to coordinate. Every piece of equipment entering a hospital or other medical facility requires an inspection before it can be used. They must ensure each device operates safely and performs as promised.  

If this sounds like a tall order, it is. For a hospital or medical facility to offer quality patient care, the equipment used must be regularly monitored, serviced, and if necessary, repaired or replaced while maintaining complete compliance. 

The Challenges of Asset Tracking

To be able to coordinate a successful medical device maintenance program, clinical engineers use a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) as a tool in documenting regulatory compliance. These systems are constantly improving and a great help in keeping up with the latest laws and regulations governing compliance. But there's another problem to solve: knowing where every single device is at any given time.

Tracking assets is a vital part of medical device maintenance. By knowing exactly where equipment is when you need it, you save time, better manage your staff, and, most importantly, place the focus on patient care where it belongs.

In a hospital with a high volume of medical devices, a thorough inventory with no visibility can take as long as eight to ten weeks each year without a guaranteed 100% search rate. Up to four to seven hours can be spent each day and as many as 1,200 to 2,000 hours can be lost annually for just one preventive maintenance event.

Frequently used devices like portable ultrasound devices, infusion pumps, and even wheelchairs can move several times in a single day throughout a facility. Time spent looking for these devices is time that could be spent providing the best possible care to the patient who needs them. 

One solution would be to invest in additional pieces of equipment but that just increases the workload and hurts your bottom line. If you can't track wheelchairs, you may not realize you don't need to order more. There may be a surplus in one area of the facility and a constant shortage in another. 

With proper asset tracking, there’s a quick and easy fix. Without it, you may end up ordering more and overstocking. And wheelchairs are just one example of medical devices that could be underestimated and stocked improperly.

Another solution is one that can be used to easily locate and track medical devices in real-time using established wireless access points combined with Bluetooth-enabled tags and a convenient app on a mobile device or phone.

Asset Tracking using BLE 

To help with asset tracking, many innovative new methods have come along including Barcode, IoT, NFC, QR code, RFID, and Bluetooth Low Technology (BLE). While each of these methods has grown and adapted with use, the best solutions for asset tracking are the ones that provide real-time information.

Fast Device Location

Kontakt.io uses tracking tags with BLE devices inside them to pinpoint locations relative to access points placed strategically through a hospital or medical facility. The location is sent to the CMMS used and anyone authorized to access that software. Unlike RFID tags that have to be scanned by a human or checkpoint scanner, BLE tracking tags provide continuous updates on items the software it's integrated with. 

Setting Minimum and Maximum PAR Levels

A periodic automatic replenishment (PAR) level is an inventory of all items and devices you have on hand at any given time. Along with this, it's important to understand how many units you need of any particular medical device in your department. Many use their best estimate of how many items they need daily. BLE trackers feed information into the software used to provide you with exact numbers on the minimum and maximum levels you need of any device in a given department based on average daily usage. 

This also helps immensely when it comes to managing inventory. Using the data from BLE trackers, you can set PAR levels to lower and upper ranges of usage during a normal working day. This will give you a highly accurate account of how many devices you need.

Maintaining Inventory PAR Levels

Clinical engineers can use Kontakt.io solutions to review available device locations, including those closest to the seeker if badges are also distributed to staff. PAR levels can be monitored and recommendations made based on current conditions in the hospital or facility. 

If any inventory item is above the maximum needed for an area, the staff knows which department they can grab an infusion pump from to replenish their own inventory. The retrieval is noted within the system for efficiency. If another department has less than what they need for wheelchairs, they are notified so they can replenish their stock before needs become urgent.

Loss Prevention

Not only can BLE trackers send information on minimum and maximum PAR levels, they can also let you know if any item has been removed from an authorized area. If someone leaves a facility with a wheelchair, you'll be notified immediately. This will help cut down on shrinkage due to theft. That improves your budget and keeps you from being short a vital item until a replacement can be ordered.

Hospital buildings have significant foot traffic at entrances and exits with multiple team members and vendors transporting various materials needed for patient care; and processing laundry and trash. Such high-volume activities result in involuntary negligence leading to unintentional loss of expensive medical devices and wheelchairs. 

The problem is greater with small medical devices that tend to get wrapped up without notice in soiled linens or in trash bags that leave the hospital; and are never recovered again. A conservative estimate of 2% loss of devices in a typical 300 bed hospital results in an annual impact of about $200,000. This does not account for indirect losses related to absence of a medical device at the point of care when needed. Delayed treatment results in dissatisfied patients and lower reimbursements. Not knowing exactly if the device is in the building or lost may also cause accounting implications and unnecessary maintenance support costs adding strain to the clinical engineering department. 

BLE trackers are available in extremely small form factors and can be attached on small devices that tend to get lost often. Beacons strategically placed in rooms capture restricted movement before it is too late. Notifications can be provided in the form of local audiovisual alarms as well as via mobile devices to alert well intentioned staff to recover items on time. BLE trackers are also read via mobile devices to isolate trash and laundry bags where the device may be hidden for rapid and safe recovery. 

Maintain Compliance

Every 36 months, surveyors from the Joint Commission visit accredited health care facilities to ensure compliance. These unannounced visits are called surveys. The Joint Commission sends health care professionals, experts in their fields, to conduct the survey.

The surveyors randomly select patients and review their medical records to make sure any and all applicable compliance standards were met. Not only will they talk to any doctors or nurses who provided care, they'll speak with the patients too. 

In order for proper care to be given as soon as possible, equipment for diagnostic tests and other needs must be ready and available. Any inability to locate a medical device can cause a delay in providing patient care and potentially have a negative impact on facility compliance. The result can be fines or even loss of accreditation.

Solving Problems

Using BLE technology from Kontakt.io, medical device maintenance and management is greatly improved for the clinical engineers responsible for them. Asset tracking helps clinical engineering staff to optimize their responsibilities and operate more efficiently. They spend less time tracking down devices, managing inventory, and monitoring PAR levels. They can devote their time to providing excellent patient care.

Productivity is increased and that leaves more time for clinical engineers to solve other problems, like cybersecurity threats, repairs, and required service swiftly. Kontakt.io solutions provide the information clinical engineers need to meet any and all applicable compliance laws and regulations. 

Using BLE technology is highly accurate and less expensive than either WiFi, passive or UWB tag solutions. Kontakt.io provides comprehensive Asset Tracking and Management applications that not only enable clinical engineers to rapidly search devices but complement CMMS in providing data analytics driving financial decisions related equipment purchase, maintenance contract negotiations, rentals and balancing useful life of assets with depreciation. Application can also be used to track staff, patients, and more for a more efficient, safer environment.

Reducing Costs

Asset tracking solutions using BLE technology are gaining in popularity. Bluetooth offers a quality alternative to active RFID tags. Advantages BLE offers over RFID open source, interoperability, scalability and lower total cost of ownership. BLE data backhaul is over existing WiFi access points eliminating the need for an alternative network, a significant cost burden for traditional active RFID. Location detection is driven by plug-and-play beacons that are one-tenth the cost of traditional active RFID location detectors. Since BLE radio is designed to consume low power, batteries can be off-the-shelf and last longer than active RFID. BLE is also extremely effective compared to passive tag solutions which require a large number of POE connected readers throughout the hospital to provide real-time location updates and have a significant installation burden that requires skilled labor. 

The open source nature of BLE streaming protocol allows various applications to consume the data stream for solving specific problems giving the customer an option to choose a solution that fits their needs effectively. 

Conclusion

Kontakt.io BLE tracking tags can easily be implemented and used by clinical engineering staff to help them manage the maintenance, location, and inventory of vital medical devices needed for daily patient care. They provide the information you need to know where each device is and ensure it's maintained and serviced on a regular basis to provide safe and effective patient use. The information can also be used to ensure compliance with all governing laws and regulations.

Contact us today to learn what we can do to improve your hospital or medical care facility with affordable, effective location services. Asset tracking can be handled by our solutions so you can have peace of mind knowing that your inventory of medical devices is well-managed. You can spend less time trying to find what you need and more time providing excellent patient care.

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Medical Bluetooth LE tracking tags

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.


How data gathered by RTLS can be leveraged into greater efficiencies and cost savings?
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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.

1. Location Services Save Time and Money

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.

2. Enhance Patient Tracking

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.

3. Facilitate Maintenance Control

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.

4. Reduce The Risk of Contamination

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.

5. Improve Tracking of Hospital Staff

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.

6. Streamline Patient Flow

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.

Conclusion

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.
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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.

What are the benefits of introducing an RTLS to your healthcare system?

"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.

Active Monitoring in healthcare

What are ten steps to help you successfully introduce an RTLS?

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.

Step One: Secure buy-in from stakeholders and your leadership team

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:

Step Two: Outline the goals you wish to achieve with your RTLS

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:

Step Three: Make a list of your existing software systems

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.

Step Four: Obtain baseline measurements prior to implementation

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:

Step Five: Determine the degree of location accuracy you require

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.

Step Six: Seek a speedy solution

"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.

Step Seven: Use care when selecting device tags

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:

Step Eight: Consider your facility's future when selecting a system

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. 

Step Nine: Schedule comprehensive training sessions for your staff

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. 

Step Ten: Periodically review and update your RTLS

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:

What is the single most important step to take when implementing RTLS?

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:

Reach out to the Kontakt.io team today! We look forward to helping your hospital become a model of efficiency and high quality care. 
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IV pumps are a piece of equipment that clinical staff need often (and urgently). Their presence or absence is critical to patient care, but it is not uncommon for staff to lose track of them, to find that somebody else took one, or realize that they do not have one that is properly sanitized. Given their unique importance to patient care, IV pump tracking and availability is key. Let’s take a look at how Bluetooth tracking is the most efficient way to track IV pumps indoors. 

IV Pump Indoor Location Tracking

IV pumps are particularly easy to misplace, and poor tracking can cause nurses to literally hide pumps so they know where they can find them later. Nurses who don't trust the IV pump tracking system will take matters into their own hands, so it becomes important to create a system they are comfortable with. Nurses should also not have to worry about inventory management; they should be able to focus fully on patient care. Some hospitals try to address this situation by simply buying or leasing more pumps, and then end up with overstocked inventory that is still not getting to patients in a timely manner. That’s why effective IV pump tracking is so important. 
Given the basic, essential nature of IV pumps, they make a good starting point for moving to a full real-time tracking system for assets. This can eventually include everything from beds to disposable supplies. Many hospitals are finding that the systems they use are no longer sufficient in today's complicated world, or simply that better options are available. As technology continues to improve, new ways to track and manage IV pumps will no doubt be invented, but for now, Bluetooth tracking has proved to be the best option. Here’s why digitized Bluetooth-based real-time IV pump tracking is essential to hospitals. 

How Does IV Pump Availability Impact Patient Care?

IV pumps, also called infusion pumps, may be the most commonly used machines in patient care. Ninety percent of hospitalized patients receive some kind of IV medications, most of which are delivered by pump. They are required for providing fluids, medication, and sometimes nutrition to patients. They are used to administer anesthesia or rehydrate dehydrated patients. If IV pumps get lost (or even stolen; they are expensive devices and have been known to walk out the door), then they are not available when patients need them.
IV pumps also need power, although they can be operated for a period of time using batteries. Newer IV and infusion pumps are "smart," which means they can be programmed to drip at certain speeds, etc, and this also means they have Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth connectivity, but also further increases their expense.
Without enough IV pumps available, a hospital cannot treat all the patients who come in the door and may have to resort to more primitive measures that waste the time of nursing staff.

How Does IV Pump Sanitation Impact Patient Care?

The other side of the picture is that IV pumps have to be clean and ready to go. Because the IV pump is in contact with the patient, it is automatically considered contaminated after use and has to go through an entire sanitation cycle before it can be used again. This is a complicated process that involves:

Needless to say, IV pumps can be lost or forgotten at any part of this stage, and a dirty IV pump cannot be used on patients without an extreme level of risk. A hospital's available IV pumps are, thus, only those in the "clean" storage room, and it's vital to ensure that used pumps get there as quickly as possible without compromising patient safety.
Proper tracking ensures that IV pumps are sanitized in a timely manner (and do not build-up to the point where the chore becomes annoying for ClinTech), and then get to the cleanroom without taking any detours. Nurses and doctors know exactly how many IV pumps they have available and where they are.
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How Digital Tracking Supports Patient Care

In addition to ensuring IV pump tracking and availability, digital tracking supports patient care and improved outcomes in a number of ways:

Digital tracking, in other words, reduces the amount of time wasted tracking down pumps. Smart pumps can tell nurses whether or not they are clean, reducing errors and protecting patients from contamination and other problems. The key here, though, is reducing so-called "hunt time," which can leave a patient without their medication for longer than is truly necessary and result in frustration for clinical staff. This then results in hoarding, which further increases hunt time.
It ensures that pumps are available for all patients that need them without wasting a lot of money acquiring and storing extra pumps.

How Bluetooth Tracking Solutions Improve Outcomes

Bluetooth tracking can support everything already mentioned and further improve patient outcomes. Bluetooth is ideal for tracking hospital assets because the chips are inexpensive and the system allows for a fine enough grid that it is even possible to tell what shelf in the storage room an object is on, further reducing search times.
Bluetooth tracking solutions can:

Bluetooth Tracking is Vital for Healthcare 

Most modern smart pumps are, in fact, already Bluetooth-ready, meaning that there is no need to "tag" these pumps with beacons. The IV pump tracking solutions can generate an alarm if an IV pump is ever removed from clinical areas (except for broken pumps that are tagged out for disposal), and thus acts to prevent theft as well as hoarding of pumps by worried staff. It also allows for the tag in and tag out of infusion pumps that are temporarily sent home with a patient, ensuring that those pumps, too, are properly traced and returned when no longer needed.
Kontakt.io offers robust Bluetooth IV pump tracking solutions, and hardware which uses less power, has to be replaced less often and integrates well with Bluetooth-based smart pumps comparing to other technologies. Our healthcare solutions further support decision making when controlling inventory. Contact us to find out how our solutions can help you or to schedule a demo.
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Bluetooth LE Beacons
 

Location services can help hospitals in a number of ways. They can immensely help with tracking equipment (i.e. wheelchair tracking). The ability to track equipment like wheelchairs can solve a lot of problems that many hospital administrators may have taken for granted. In this post, we'll discuss how location services work and how they can be used on wheelchairs to improve patient care and clinical outcomes.

Consequences of Non-Digitized Wheelchair Tracking

Wheelchairs are a standard feature of any hospital. They have an impact on nearly every facet of your operation. From the costs associated with them to the delays that can be caused by their unavailability, wheelchairs can be a source of headache. Many of these problems seem like just an unavoidable part of the hospital experience. Let's take a look at some of the specific pain points that lacking wheelchair management solutions can cause.

Direct impact on patient care

While some patients are in wheelchairs to make their recovery easier, many cannot safely be transported at all without the aid of one. For these patients, the ability to have a wheelchair readily available when it is needed is important. In some cases, it could be critical. Every second a member of staff spends searching for an open wheelchair takes away from the patient experience. This can negatively impact the patient’s health outcome.

Impacts operational continuity

Patients aren't the only ones that are kept waiting when a wheelchair cannot be found. Entire healthcare workflows rely on getting patients where they need to be quickly and efficiently. Lack of wheelchair availability or the absence of adequate wheelchair tracking will create queues and delays that impact your processes and drag down the efficiency of your hospital.

Patient care & experience

Sometimes a patient isn't using a wheelchair as part of the healthcare workflow. Often, family members will use wheelchairs so that they can spend some time with their loved one outdoors, or to help patients who cannot walk out to the car after the discharge procedure. In these cases, not having a wheelchair available does not reduce your efficiency, but it still negatively impacts the patient experience.

Shrinkage 

Because wheelchair tracking is difficult, hospitals have reported up to 25% of their wheelchair inventory goes missing each year. This is a massive expense that is the result of poorly tracked equipment. Wheelchairs are often stolen by people who can easily walk out of the building with one. Other times the wheelchairs are left abandoned in areas of the building that make them hard to find.

PAR

Periodic Automatic Replenishment can be a wonderful tool for ensuring that your stock of wheelchairs in any given department remains at the optimum level. In theory, PAR sounds simple: when the stock of an item drops below a certain minimum threshold an automatic order is placed to bring that stock up to a maximum threshold.
Even with more easily tracked items, hospitals sometimes struggle to find the right thresholds for a PAR system and wind up falling back on gut feelings to determine proper inventory levels. Wheelchairs complicate this process further because they must be able to move between departments to do their job effectively. This means that replenishing the supply in one department could mean purchasing new wheelchairs, or it could mean pulling them from another department.
Without effective wheelchair tracking, two major problems can occur:

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How Location Services Help

Rapid advances in technology continue to drive the fourth industrial revolution. Many of the technologies that are bringing new paradigms to manufacturing are also making life better for businesses of all kinds, including hospitals. Companies of all sizes and across all industries are beginning to realize that it is time to begin their digital transformation or get left behind. 
Kontakt.io provides clinical staff with available wheelchair locations, the nearest asset to seeker if staff badging is implemented, adaptive PAR level monitoring and recommendations based on current patient load. Rather than being passive tools waiting to be used, your wheelchairs can become beacons of information that help your staff perform their jobs more efficiently. Let's take a quick look at how BLE tracking works and then examine the ways that it can be used on your wheelchairs to solve the problems discussed above.

BLE tracking

Tracking tags with Bluetooth low energy devices in them are able to triangulate their positions relative to base stations that are installed around your hospital. This allows them to provide a precise location to a software solution that then makes that location available with anyone who has access to the software. This means that BLE tracking tags do not need to be scanned by a human or a checkpoint scanner in the same way that RFID tags need to be. This continuously updated location data, and the software that it reports to, can be used to solve all of the problems mentioned above.

Automate the tracking of PAR level

One of the biggest reasons that hospitals abandon a PAR system in favor of conventional offline methods is that it is simply too difficult to keep an accurate count in order to know when stock needs to be replenished or which levels it needs to be replenished to. As staff goes about their busy day checking inventory, levels become something that gets overlooked. BLE trackers will automatically know how many wheelchairs are in a given area and alert someone on staff when that number drops below the threshold. Similarly, if the number is above the maximum threshold, staff will quickly know which departments they can grab a wheelchair from to replenish another department's inventory.

Optimize wheelchair tracking and inventory

Another difficulty that hospitals face with PAR is understanding exactly what the minimum and maximum thresholds should be. If these numbers are wild guesses, then PAR doesn't perform significantly better than gut feeling anyway. BLE trackers, or more specifically, the software that they enable, will be able to tell you precisely how many wheelchairs a given department uses on average. This will help not only with wheelchair tracking in general, but also with wheelchair inventory. By setting your PAR levels to the upper and lower ranges that occur during normal business operation, you'll have a much more accurate count of how many wheelchairs are needed.

Increase patient care

We've already discussed how you'll be able to quickly see which departments have extra wheelchairs, but BLE tracking takes things much further than that. Because the tags can carry small amounts of data, you can tag a chair that is in use versus one that is not. BLE location services allow for extremely efficient wheelchair tracking. Combined with the ability to find the exact location of every wheelchair in an instant, your staff will be able to find the closest available wheelchair when they are needed. This will get them back to work doing more productive things quicker and keep patient wait times to a minimum. 

Alert on wheelchairs leaving the building

Just as the wheelchair tracking software can be programmed to notify you when the inventory of wheelchairs in a given area has dropped above or below a certain threshold, it can be programmed to notify you when someone has left the building with a wheelchair. This will allow you to stop shrinkage as a result of theft and save the hospital money on needlessly replenishing wheelchair stock.

Everything mentioned so far also has the added benefit of making life easier for patients. They will wait less time to get to their healthcare destinations, be able to leave the hospital quicker after discharge, and be more mobile when their family comes to visit them.
Kontakt.io is an industry leader in BLE beacons and Enterprise IoT technologies. We develop cutting edge hardware and software solutions that are at the forefront of the industry. Our BLE tracking tags come in form factors that are perfect for tracking anything in your hospital, be it wheelchairs, employees, or your inventory of medical supplies. When those tags are combined with our software product they become an invaluable resource in increasing patient care and clinical outcomes.
We would love the opportunity to discuss with you what our location services can do for your hospital. Don’t let wheelchair tracking (or any type of equipment tracking) be an issue again! If you are ready to begin your operation's digital transformation, please contact us today.
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Whether it's a large-scale accident or a global pandemic that has your hospital dealing with a significantly larger influx of patients than normal, keeping up with triage for all patients becomes significantly more difficult. The sheer number of people that you must sort through during times where mere seconds can mean life or death leads to a situation that is both stressful and logistically challenging. This situation is worsened when that influx of people is carrying or potentially carrying a highly contagious illness as in the recent COVID-19 outbreak. In these situations, you need to balance the already stressful task of triage with the need to keep contagious patients as far from healthy patients and staff as possible.
This requires keeping track of people in a hectic and crowded environment. You must be able to quickly get patients into beds, while still keeping the contagious people quarantined as much as possible. This means not only tracking people but knowing immediately which beds are clear and who else may be in the room. This is one of the areas where technology can help, making it easier to track the people, the beds, and the conditions so you can get your patients sorted and moved as quickly as possible, cutting life-saving seconds off the time it would otherwise take.

How Real-Time Location Services (RTLS) Helps Medical Professionals

Bluetooth-enabled active staff badges, patient wristbands, and bed tags allow you to track every person in your hospital or medical center. You'll know instantly where every patient, doctor, visitor, member of staff, and even bed are. This tracking requires no paperwork or other procedures that will slow you down and put lives at risk. Instead, anyone with an internet-capable device will be able to see the locations of everyone and everything tracked in real-time. This data, along with a well-trained staff, will allow for more staff autonomy, better health outcomes for your patients, and a better guarantee of safety for visitors.


How can you improve the overall quality of care in your hospital while decreasing costs?

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What RTLS Does to Help You Manage a Crisis

Like almost every other device we use, the hospital wristband and staff badge can now be a lot smarter. The IoT (internet of things) allows various devices to connect to each other and exchange meaningful information. In the case of real-time location services, this data includes tracking information and key bits of metadata that will give meaning to those locations.
Let's take a look at some of the ways that hospitals and medical centers can use this technology to improve their ED triage process, whether it is during a mass casualty event, global pandemic, or simply day to day operations.

Live tracking patients and staff

Real-time location tracking allows staff to immediately locate those patients, which can be especially important if the patient were to fall, have a medical emergency, or test positive for a virus. Tracking patients in this way also allows you to keep them out of restricted areas that may be dangerous to them or isolated if needed.
Location data is key to fulfilling the central mission of triage operations—prioritizing. When every minute counts, wasting that time on locating patients defeats the purpose. With real-time tracking, it’s far easier to separate urgent cases from those assigned a lower priority and then to locate everyone as their time for treatment comes.

Manage ED patient flow, beds, and spaces

Once a patient has been placed, it is often necessary to move them between departments. At some point, they will be discharged. Both of these procedures can be paperwork heavy and lead to delays and errors. With real-time location tracking, it will not only be easier to keep track of patients, but you will be able to use the data that you gather to identify and resolve the bottlenecks that are slowing down your processes.

Trace patient and staff interactions

We've seen how fast a highly contagious virus, like COVID-19, can spread. It needs to be able to track patients that may be contagious and show in a system which visitors, patients and staff members have been in contact with affected patients to further decrease the spread of virus. 
When you are busy trying to find a bed for everyone, you may end up inadvertently reusing equipment that has been contaminated. Keeping track of these things manually under high-stress situations is error-prone and can result in further transmission of the virus. Tracking systems allow you to tag contaminated beds and equipment so that extra care is taken not to use them until they have been sanitized.
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How Real-Time Location Services Are Used for Tracking

For a while, the dominant tracking technology on the market was RFID. This technology is appropriate for some use cases, but it requires items to go through a checkpoint or be scanned by a human in order to track them. In a hectic hospital situation, this would only consume more valuable staff time and create more bottlenecks. It would not meet the needs of a hospital trying to efficiently respond to a crisis.
BLE devices do not require scanning. They work by triangulating their location with ‘base stations’ that have a known location. This means that you only need to place a BLE tracking tag on the object that you want to track and begin tracking it. Because they are smart devices, you can associate data with the tag. For example, as mentioned earlier, you could note that a piece of equipment is in need of sanitation or that a patient is contagious.
Because the location is always transmitting, the data is available in real-time, all the time. This data can be used not only by your staff but by powerful machine learning algorithms in the software that will help you identify bottlenecks and improve the flow of people and equipment in your hospital.
BLE devices are small, so the tags come in a wide variety of form factors. The most useful devices for hospitals and medical centers are:

Conclusion

As a leader in real-time location tracking services, Kontakt.io offers BLE tags in a number of form factors for visitor, staff, patient, and asset tracking as well as a software application that will allow your staff to access the tracking data from any internet-enabled device. Contact us today to see how location services can help ER staff members during triage crisis situations in your hospital.

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Keeping patients and employees safe is always a challenge for hospitals, which have to worry about everything from infection control, falls, belligerent patients, and the fire alarm going off. Location data can help.
Real-time location is one way hospitals are improving safety for everyone in the building. Here are some ways location data can improve safety in hospitals.

Tracking Patient Location with Location Data

The traditional hospital wristband is now a lot smarter. Tracking the location of patients in real-time can ensure that they are always where they are supposed to be. If a confused patient gets out of bed and wanders off, staff can find them quickly—ideally before they fall and injure themselves or find their way out of the hospital.
Location data can also keep patients from wandering into dangerous, restricted areas. Patients can be stubborn and may insist on trying to use the bathroom on their own before they are ready. Also, if a patient is moved, location tracking makes sure that staff can find them even if they were not informed.
In the event of a mass casualty event, these location data tags can greatly save time when tracking and triaging patients, even if they are put in beds in corridors.

Tracking Visitor Location

By using Bluetooth tags in visitor badges, hospitals can keep track of visitors and make sure they stay in areas they are allowed to be in. This is important for infection control (there are some wards you really can't have people wandering into), keeping people out of unsafe areas, etc. Some hospitals have started issuing long-term badges to regular visitors (and to outpatients), which negates the need to check in with a receptionist and saves everyone a lot of time while continuing to ensure patient security.
By ensuring that visitors stay on track and don't wander, the location data system reduces the amount of time they stay in the hospital. This then reduces the risk of contamination in either direction. Additionally, location data can be collected to ensure that visitors are directed along routes they are likely to use. This can help plan the flow of people through the hospital in an efficient way. For example, you might want to send visitors in through one corridor and have them come out through a different one.

Tracking Employee Location

Finally, keeping track of hospital employees can enhance everyone's safety. Location data systems can be designed to literally page the closest doctor when a patient is in distress, rather than one who may be on the other side of the building or in the canteen.
Location tracking can also help if there is an emergency. Bluetooth tags can help ensure that visitors, employees, and patients are accounted for in the event of an evacuation. Hospitals are generally evacuated only as a last resort, but when they are, it's not feasible to do a room-by-room inspection to make sure everyone is out or alternatively at a muster station. Emergency services can be told who is still in the building, where they are, and even whether they are mobility impaired, allowing rescue services to go right where they need to go with the right equipment.

Protecting Staff from Assault

Unfortunately, one risk of working in a hospital is being assaulted. The stresses faced by some patients or their loved ones can result in unfortunate confrontations. Bluetooth technology can give staff a one-touch method for calling security, without having to stop to give their location, if they need backup. Healthcare workers face a high risk of being attacked, especially in the emergency room. Having a panic button also tends to help staff confidence and, thus, staff productivity.

Improving Patient Flow with Location Data

Patient flow is a problem in many hospitals. Hand-offs between departments don't always go smoothly, the emergency room is overcrowded despite there being plenty of beds, or patients who are ready to be discharged have to sit around for hours waiting on the paperwork. Real-time data on patient movement can help hospitals identify where the bottlenecks are and design systems to prevent delayed discharge and patients sitting for hours in hallways. For example, door to clinician times can be tracked in the emergency room, giving metrics that allow a hospital to improve its procedures.
Apps can alert doctors or nurses to patients who have been waiting longer than normal. Some admissions can be expedited with automated check-in. They also make patient transfers easier. Physical charts do not have to be handed off, tags or wristbands don't need to be changed since they're associated with data kept in the cloud and directly linked to a patient's medical records. The system significantly reduces the risk of situations where a patient slips through the cracks and department X thinks department Y is taking care of them and vice versa.
When a patient is discharged, the system can automatically notify housekeeping so they can immediately clean the bed and/or room for reuse, reducing bed shortages significantly. Staff also have an instant map available of which beds are occupied and which are available, so there is no need to send somebody running through the hospital to find a bed (which, yes, happens a lot). The system will also send an alert if the hospital is near capacity so that patient transfers can be planned.

Improving Building Security

By using Bluetooth tags in employee badges, building security can be improved. Employees are automatically granted access rights to the parts of the building they need. Badges or wristbands can be easily updated if access rights are changed, without the need to change the physical hardware.
Tracking assets reduces theft, which improves patient safety by ensuring that the needed equipment is present for use.

Reducing Risk of Contamination

Infectious disease control is a big issue; as anyone who has ever caught something nasty while visiting a relative in the hospital can attest.
Visitor tracking can keep visitors who don't need to be there out of patient rooms and can help visitors plan a route through the hospital that minimizes their contact with patients. Even medical staff can be directed in ways that minimize unnecessary patient contact, slowing the spread of hospital-acquired infections.
Asset tracking can flag equipment that needs to be sanitized and ensure it is not inadvertently reused, and track medical waste on its way out of the building, ensuring that nobody comes into contact with it. This also means that equipment can be found faster when needed, reducing patient wait times.
The system can keep staff abreast of the location of patients with highly-contagious diseases and remind them to take proper precautions before entering the room. Some systems are being developed that monitor whether workers are washing their hands before and after patient contact.
Recent events have illustrated the critical value of being able to have precise records of all patient interactions, updated in real time. The outbreak and spread of the COVID-19 virus demonstrates how location data tracking patients, physicians and other hospital workers can serve as a crucial record that allows infections to be traced and hopefully contained. Up-to-the-minute status reports along with easily accessible historical data can display all interactions with infected patients, accelerating the process of locating and testing anyone who may be at risk. 
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Increasing Accuracy of Medical Records

Barcode wristbands help, but Bluetooth beacons have the advantage of range; staff doesn’t have to actually touch a patient to identify them. Once the patient has been identified, medical records can be accessed immediately and accurately. Furthermore, an exact, accurate record of where a patient has been and which staff have been with them can be obtained. This gives more data for hospitals to use in improving services and tracking outcomes. The medical record can easily be cross-referenced to the attending physician, ensuring that any gaps in reporting can be checked on and corrected.

Improving Emergency Response Time

We already mentioned tracking down the nearest doctor in situations when every minute counts. A combination of smart hospital beds and employee location tracking can alert the right medical staff (by proximity and skill) and get them to the bedside of a distressed patient quickly, even if the patient is unable to call for assistance. The staff can also immediately locate equipment, such as the nearest defibrillator, even if they are new or in an unfamiliar part of the hospital. If a defibrillator was not returned to its place after use, the system can still track it down. Faster response times to patients can, of course, save lives. Also, there's the fact that much time that could be spent assisting patients is wasted tracking down a missing piece of equipment or even missing personnel.

Balancing Employee Workload

Hospital employees work hard and can be prone to work-related injuries, especially back injuries from lifting or pushing patients. Employee monitoring and location data can keep track of how much hard physical labor an individual does. It can then encourage or force them to take a break as needed or switch to a less arduous task. Sometimes those with a reputation for being big and strong can end up doing more than their fair share of gurney pushing. 
Real-time location systems are revolutionizing healthcare. They may not yet be universal, but the chances are they will be. The hospital of the future will streamline every interaction based on data, guiding staff, patients, and visitors to where they need to go. Patient safety and outcomes will thus be improved, and employees will be better protected from the unavoidable hazards of their job. By optimizing patient flow, helping protect workers from attack, and reducing everyone's exposure to infectious agents, real-time location data tracking will keep everyone in and around hospitals safer.
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At first glance, hospital bed tracking sounds like a simple, straightforward task. But if you operate a large medical center or a chain of hospitals, you likely know that there is more to bed tracking than meets the eye. Poor bed visibility, deferred bed maintenance, and a lack of centralized information can all make it difficult to keep track of available beds. Below is a look at some of the top bed-related challenges facing today's hospitals and the specific ways a real-time hospital bed management solution can prime your hospital for success.

What are some key challenges facing hospitals regarding bed management?

The path to improved hospital bed management begins with an understanding of the barriers facing today's hospitals. Here is a look at some of the key challenge that negatively impact a hospital's HCAHPS rating and revenue:

1) Bottlenecks in patient flow

"A bottleneck is the part of the patient care journey that cannot meet the demand for services efficiently. At this point, services are delayed and patient care must wait." - Patrice Spath, RHIT, Adjunct Professor University of Alabama at Birmingham
Bottlenecks in patient flow top the list of barriers facing hospitals because they directly impact the patient experience and hospital profitability. They occur when demand for beds or a particular hospital service exceeds the hospital's available resources. If they are not addressed, bottlenecks can negatively impact the entire patient care experience.

2) Poor bed visibility

Not being able to accurately know how many beds are available tremendously affects hospital bed management. Hospitals that lack real-time visibility of available beds are left to use outdated information to guess how many beds are available in each department. Underestimating that number can cause patients to wait as open beds remain unoccupied. And overestimating the number of available beds can lead to frustration as patients are transported to beds that are already filled.

3) Defective beds

No piece of hospital equipment is immune to problems. But when a hospital bed breaks down, the consequences are especially costly because a patient room remains unoccupied until the bed is repaired or replaced. Common reasons for defects include worn parts, operational errors, and lapses in preventive maintenance.

4) Canceled surgeries

"Cancelling operations is not a decision we ever take lightly...We cannot operate on patients if we have nowhere to care for them. We cancelled these cancer operations predominantly due to the lack of a bed in intensive care." - John Adler, Leicester NHS Trust Chief Executive
Canceling surgeries due to a lack of functional beds causes stress and frustration during a time that is already difficult for patients. The problem is becoming so pronounced that some patients have had their surgeries canceled twice due to bed shortages and visibility issues. In many cases, the patients take drugs and fast to prepare for surgery, only to be told at the last minute that there are actually no beds available.

5) Missing and stolen beds 

In 2019, Florida VA Hospitals reported nearly $5 million in missing medical equipment. The list of missing and stolen items included a wide range of items ranging from computers to a $25,000 eye scanner. With new FDA-approved electric hospital beds costing over $10,000 and most professionally refurbished hospital beds costing over $2,000, hospitals cannot afford to lose beds to theft or misplacement.

6) Sluggish cash flow

Poor patient flow, canceled surgeries, and a lack of preventive maintenance combine to create a recipe for sluggish cash flow for hospitals. And when hospitals fail to meet revenue goals, they are unable to expand services or invest in new technology. A hospital is then unable to maintain its competitive edge. 

What are the top benefits of a real-time bed management solution?

Addressing the challenges above is no longer an option for hospital administrators - it is a must. A growing number of hospitals are turning to real-time bed management solutions such as Simon AI to expedite their searches for available beds and keep track of the bed's maintenance history.  Here are some of the top advantages a real-time bed management solution can offer.

1) Optimize patient flow

Real-time access to bed information helps to minimize delays and bottlenecks. Thom Mayer, M.D. and Executive Vice President of Envision Physician Services, lists the "Use of Technology to Enhance Care" as one of the top five strategies to improve patient flow

2) Quickly identify a bed's location

By automating bed visibility, clinical staff are no longer forced to depend on outdated information or error-prone manual notes. They can quickly find out if a specific bed is located within the ward, the hospital's post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), or within a patient room. Additionally, centralized bed authorities can devote more time to communicating with units about the needs of incoming patients because they no longer have to physically visit locations within a hospital to confirm bed availability.   

3) Fewer canceled surgeries

Reducing the number of canceled surgeries by improving bed tracking and visibility can save a large hospital millions of dollars. For example, the number of delayed and canceled surgeries at The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) was estimated to be 7,500 annually, resulting in a estimated loss of $5.9 million. By improving bed management, many of these dollars are funneled back into the hospital budget. 

4) Streamlined bed maintenance

Preventive maintenance should be performed at least annually by a certified biomedical engineer or technician. In many cases, maintenance is performed offsite or within a specific location within a hospital. Simon AI tracks the removal of beds for preventive maintenance service. Additionally, the platform's notification engine can alert staff if a bed has not been removed for servicing within the recommended time frame.

5) Fewer missing or stolen beds

Real-time bed management solutions like Simon AI help users track down missing beds by enabling them to quickly find the last location of any tagged hospital bed. Users can also view the bed's entire location history to help determine who may have moved the bed. Finally, users help prevent theft by setting notifications to alert staff when a bed is being moved from a designated zone or moved out of the hospital.

6) Improved clinical staff efficiency

"Quickly assigning patients to beds is critical to both the patients' recovery and the financial health of hospitals. Large hospitals typically employ teams of 50 or more bed managers who spend the bulk of their day making calls and sending faxes to various departments vying for their share of the beds available." - Minoo Javanmardian and Aditya Lingampally, Harvard Business Review 
Introducing Simon AI greatly minimizes the amount of staffing time spent on identifying available beds. This enables clinical staff to spend more time caring for patients and less time searching for available beds. The end result is greater efficiency and a reduction in staffing expenditures.

7) A superior patient experience

An improved patient experience is, by far, the most important benefit of a real-time bed management solution. By improving patient flow, reducing the number of canceled surgeries, and minimizing wait times for beds, patients are able to complete their treatment faster and with a higher level of satisfaction.
Learn how the Internet of Things is solving common and complex problems for healthcare providers>

How does a BLE-based bed management solution work?

A BLE-based management solution provides users with real-time information on a bed's location. The solution is user-friendly and requires little in the way of equipment. The short list of requirements include a Simon AI subscription, Kontakt.io Bluetooth LE devices, and Bluetooth LE Gateways. Compatible 3rd party devices and WiFi network infrastructures will also suffice.
Implementation is also straightforward with users simply attaching a Bluetooth tag to every bed in the hospital. And because Simon AI is hardware agnostic and compatible with a variety of 3rd party applications.The process can be summarized in four simple steps:

Once you have implemented Simon AI, you can take your bed management to the next level by retrieving and analyzing data about your beds. For example, you can pinpoint locations where delays are most likely to occur and adjust your staffing and procedures accordingly. Additionally, you can identify locations and patterns to trigger automated actions. For example, you can schedule an email alert if 365 days passes without a bed being removed from the ward for servicing.
Another key function of Simon AI is its powerful analytics. Simon AI enables users to easily review collected bed data and identify bed-related inefficiencies. The end result is a boost in productivity and efficiency.

What is the single best way to improve your hospital bed management?

As outlined above, a real-time management solution such as Simon AI can help you overcome some of the greatest challenges facing today's hospitals. The single best step to improving your bed management is to schedule a discovery call with a Kontakt.io specialist. During your complimentary discovery call, you will learn how Kontakt.io's solutions can help you achieve the following at your hospital:

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Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) are often associated with industrial or manufacturing applications but they are quietly revolutionizing the way hospitals and other healthcare facilities operate. 
When you think about it, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Underneath some superficial differences, hospitals and manufacturing operations have a lot in common, characteristics that are ideally suited to RTLS’s ability to refine and optimize processes through better visibility. Like industrial settings, hospitals need to keep track of expensive equipment over large and segmented areas. They often suffer from a mismatch between how workflows are designed and the physical areas where staff operate. Hospitals, like manufacturers, have areas that need to be secured against unauthorized entry while providing and documenting access to those spaces to the right people. 
When viewed strictly as a collection of processes involving significant numbers of moving parts, many of the distinctions between hospitals and more familiar settings for RTLS deployments melt away. 
If you’re responsible for hospital administration or anything to do with cutting costs, creating operational efficiencies or enhancing staff and patient safety, all while limiting legal liability, it’s time to learn more about how RTLS and Kontakt.io’s Simon Location Analytical Platform can help. 
Here are eight ways that location data derived from RTLS solutions powered by Simon Location Analytics Platform can help hospitals and healthcare facilities. 

1. Improved staff productivity and precise on-site time tracking

Operational efficiency is mission-critical for hospitals. With fixed space and resources deployed against ever-increasing patient traffic, it’s the only way to handle the workload while maintaining patient care standards. The insights made possible by Bluetooth RTLS provide you with the data to easily track how much time particular staff members, teams or other personnel are on site (including overtime), along with their arrival and departure times. These precise measurements, in addition to eliminating the element of human error and time clocks, can inform smarter decisions about staffing. Not only can they help find the optimal balance between over- and under-staffing, but you can also set up automatic alerts when certain time limits are reached. This, in turn, can help to mitigate against legal liability and medical errors while increasing patient satisfaction.
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2. Enhanced security for patients, staff and visitors

Hospitals have a number of areas where access is strictly limited for various reasons. Storage rooms with restricted medications, small but expensive devices or sensitive data or records are off-limits for all but a few with special permission. This can apply to even high-ranking staff for obvious reasons of accountability should anything go missing or be used inappropriately. 
Using RTLS, hospitals can simultaneously control access through automated lock mechanisms, while keeping detailed, time-stamped records of exactly which staff member entered and exited restricted areas. These records can be archived and accessed as needed should they be required to help resolve organizational issues, investigations or other conflicts.
Also, alerts can be set up to notify a predefined responder when unauthorized personnel enter a restricted zone or accompany someone who has been granted access. Taken together, these security measures help to:


3. Clearing the facility in the event of an emergency

Hospital protocols are full of “what if” scenarios for emergency situations regarding individual patients but what if emergency circumstances call for the entire building to be evacuated? As unlikely as it may seem, it’s still contingency you have to plan for and RTLS is once again able to help. 
When the unimaginable happens and dangers arise, every second counts. The size and complexity of hospital spaces pose a major challenge for anyone trying to ensure that patients, visitors and staff have all been moved to safety. Moving from room to room doing visual inspections simply isn’t an option. Add to that the reality of so many mobility-impaired individuals spread out over the building and you begin to sense the extreme difficulty involved. 
RTLS-enabled tags can give you complete visibility into everyone’s location in real time. Identify who’s in the building (and where) and who’s not with the touch of a button. Alternatively, you can create a map with predetermined muster (meeting) points for separate areas of the building and know instantly if everyone assigned to them is ready to be led out to safety. 
Finally, if emergency services are involved, RTLS will allow you to tell them exactly how many people are in the building and where they are. Again, when desperate moments leave no time for delay, you’ll be in a position to direct rescue services straight to where they need to go without wasting time searching areas that you already know have been cleared. 
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4. Staff safety and protection

Harassment and threats to the physical safety of staff, nurses in particular, are an unfortunate reality of healthcare these days. Often alone with potentially volatile patients in remote areas of large buildings, nurses can suddenly find themselves in dangerous situations without help or support nearby. 
RLTS-enabled tags fitted with panic buttons can provide a way for anyone on staff to quickly and discreetly call for help whenever they need it. This peace of mind not only provides comfort for staff and promotes a better working environment, but can be a decisive factor when trouble happens. The ability to store and analyze historical data can also deliver insights that can reveal common characteristics or circumstances that define high-risk situations, allowing you to take the appropriate countermeasures. 
Meeting patient care expectations is easier when staff feel physically safe in their own workplace. Knowing that they can quietly and remotely call for help whenever needed allows them to concentrate on the task at hand and minimizes the element of uncertainty that can distract them away from vital details about patient issues. Help nurses do their jobs by letting them carry a simple card that keeps them connected to their colleagues at all times. 
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Active Monitoring with Beacons in the Healthcare Industry
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5. Automated compliance monitoring 

We would need a separate blog to list all the ways that healthcare facilities are regulated, monitored and checked. With the possible exception of a nuclear power plant, it’s hard to think of any area that’s more obligated to deal with the demands of legal compliance. 
Take the matter of medicine storage in hospitals, for example. Maintaining the proper storage environment—in terms of temperature, humidity, etc.—is critical to the effectiveness and safety of drugs. Sometimes even small violations of the appropriate standards can have disastrous consequences. RTLS hardware enabled with environmental sensors can monitor and document storage conditions in a way that manual reporting—with its costs, risks and inaccuracy—cannot. RTLS can also remotely deliver real-time information and, as with other use cases on this list, send automated alerts when predefined ranges are exceeded. 
Compliance with other areas of hospital operation is also made easier with RTLS. Documenting things like staff work time and access to sensitive materials (both described separately on this list) is easier when manual paperwork is eliminated in favor of digital monitoring and the automatic generation of reports in Simon. Again, historical data is archived and easily shareable so why fill shelves with notebooks full of paper when you can put Simon in charge of large parts of your compliance obligations? 
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6. Optimized patient flow

Even putting aside the actual health problems that hospitals deal with, there is a long list of other issues with the potential to dramatically slow down the process of moving patients through the facility. After all, whatever its primary purpose, ultimately hospitals are large buildings with segmented areas full of people moving in all directions. The opportunities for bottlenecks, backups and delays are endless. 
With RTLS, you get visibility, both live in real time and historical, into how people and assets move around a space in digital form. This provides the kind of insight that is simply impossible through manual observation. With hard data in the form of wait times, individual & station productivity and even room occupancy rates, you can optimize the way every aspect of patient handling is organized. With RTLS solutions, you don’t have to wait until things reach a crisis point (that’s when you notice things through manual observation) to make the necessary adjustments to facilitate and accelerate patient flow. 
Think of RTLS as an early warning system for issues that, if left alone, have the power to bring the whole process to a halt. Wouldn’t you like to know about problems long before they cause a chain reaction of trouble that creates multiple opportunities for patients to complain about the quality of the care they receive? 


7. Optimize asset utilization, inventory management and search times

Hospitals have millions of dollars worth of equipment scattered over what is often a massive complex of rooms, wards, wings and departments. It’s inevitable that much of that equipment is going to be far from where it is needed now in emergency situations. Searching for medical equipment, especially in the event of an emergency, wastes staff time and puts patient health at risk.
Simon allows your staff to quickly locate the nearest required piece of equipment, whatever it may be, from wheelchairs to surgical instruments and everything in between. This can directly impact patient outcomes and satisfaction while optimizing labor costs. What’s the point of constantly paying staff to search a huge area for the same equipment, over and over? 
The benefits of asset tracking and utilization in hospitals are the same as asset tracking and utilization anywhere else—maximizing ROI while always having up-to-date information about how many of a given item you have on hand. Too many pieces of equipment X or too few? One is bad for the bottom line and the other compromises patient care. Avoid both of them through the smart tracking of assets using RTLS and Simon. 
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8. Streamlined bed management

There are no holidays or days off in hospitals and the points of entry are never closed. To avoid backups at patient intake points, they need to be assigned to a bed and moved forward in the process as quickly as possible.
By providing constantly updated information about bed location and availability, RTLS accelerates the process of assigning patients to rooms and wards. Manual counting is time-consuming and unreliable anyway since results are never in synch with real-time patient traffic. With location data, the number and location of available beds is always known, allowing patients to be assigned faster and without the need for manual checks. 
Room and bed turnover time can be reduced when you get automatic updates as they become available for another patient. Also, if full capacity is being approached, you can get alerts to give you time to make alternate arrangements.
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That should be enough of an introduction to just what RTLS-based solutions can do for the business side of hospitals and other healthcare operations. If this has you curious about how this kind of deployment works, check out our blog about 3 Ways to Implement Automation in Hospitals. If you’re ready for a deeper dive, our white paper on Active Monitoring in Healthcare might be just the thing to answer questions you might have.
If you are looking for an end to end RTLS solution for healthcare, click here to contact us.
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We talk a lot about the hardware and software involved in gathering and applying location data but in this post we’re going to take a step back to look at the big picture behind Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS). The whole point of using the tools that make RTLS work is to collect data about location, movement and processes but how is that information used to achieve better business results? 
The location data collected by RTLS a means to an end. The end, obviously, is the ability to identify useful business insights with the help of that data. Pairing location information with gaps in business performance creates the foundation for new approaches that reduce inefficiencies and improve business outcomes. 
Different verticals have found a number of innovative and beneficial ways to leverage location data gathered via RTLS. Digitized processes have enabled managers and strategists to gain unprecedented insights into how people, objects and materials move in physical spaces and identify opportunities for optimization. 

Location data in the Industrial space

Given its complex nature, it should come as no surprise that industry and manufacturing has been the setting for a very long list of location data applications. From the moment raw materials come in one door to finished goods being shipped from another and everything in between, the industrial space can benefit in many ways from the streamlining made possible through the visibility provided by location data. 


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Here are just some of the applications of locations data in industry and manufacturing:

Manufacturing and industrial facilities need to register and track materials at different stages of the process. Hand-held scanners, requiring manual scanning and extra manpower, have traditionally filled this role but now real-time location data is helping to automate the process. RTLS is now a key part of supply-chain management right from the very start of the manufacturing process. 
Location data helps to save time and reduce staff levels by processing the intake of new materials and automatically adding them to inventory. Other processes and activities can proceed without having to wait for slower manual methods to catch up. Also, material inputs can be more quickly moved to warehouse shelves or the production line instead of gathering in one area and perhaps interfering with other work going on. Also, when onward movement is accelerated, downtime for associated equipment like forklifts and pallets is reduced. 
The proper allocation of factory inputs is a component of material handling. In complex spaces with so many moving parts and potential issues that can slow down production, it’s important that materials be accessible when and where they’re needed. With location data gained from passive monitoring, materials can be more easily assigned to workstations and assembly points, keeping them better supplied, avoiding downtime and facilitating resupplies when needed. 

Probably the application most often associated with location data, being able to instantly locate assets has obvious business benefits. Avoiding or reducing downtime is the first one on the list, with less need for staff to spend time locating tools and equipment needed for a particular job. Also, expensive equipment can be protected from theft by using geofencing to ensure that it is kept within virtual boundaries that you set. If tagged tools or equipment are taken beyond those lines, an automatic alert can be sent to the appropriate manager. 
Asset tracking also has value at inventory time (or at any time you want to take inventory). With the touch of a button, you can count the number of all assets or a particular tool or piece of equipment. 

Here we mean the useful aspects of being able to digitally tracking employee locations. This visibility is commonly used in several ways in industrial and manufacturing environments. 
We can start where the staff starts their time in the facility—at the time clock. RTLS has become a new kind of digital timeclock for millions of employees around the world, precisely documenting their arrival and departure times. Apart from creating a reliable a searchable database of information (which can be used to document employee presence and absences as needed) it also eliminates human error in the clock-in, clock-out process. No more forgetting about time cards when all employees have to do is walk past a sensor with a beacon card or tag on them. 
Tracking staff locations also has applications for safety and security issues. Access to potentially hazardous areas in work environments can be regulated through granting or restricting it as appropriate. Staff movements can also be archived for documentation purposes in the event of an accident or other issue requiring visibility into who was where and when. 
The same principle can be applied to security concerns in industrial facilities with stored valuables, expensive machinery or other similarly sensitive assets that are not generally accessible to all. RTLS can be used to control access to these areas in order to ensure that only authorized personnel can gain entrance.  

RTLS applications in Shipping

The worldwide network of cargo ships, trucks, rail cars and freight airliners is the backbone of global commerce. An industry that handles 80% of all consumer goods and 90% of global trade by weight is certainly large enough to create any number of opportunities of location data to create new efficiencies and savings. 
With the advances in hardware battery life and the development of tags and beacons able to withstand more demanding environments, RTLS-based location data is now as mobile as those ships, planes, trucks and trains. Automated processes similar to those found in other verticals are now streamlining processes in supply chains and reducing administration costs (which can constitute 20% of the overall costs of shipping). 
Real-time location data informs computer applications that schedule loading and unloading operations, accelerating distribution at ports and cutting overall downtime. This contributes greatly to the reduction and sometimes elimination of manual tracking and human-error while boosting productivity and efficiency.
When it comes to tracking cargo, location data can go far beyond simply placing it on a map. Real-time updates can trigger alerts when shipments are behind schedule, which can in turn trigger automated updates sent to distributors, customers and other stakeholders, allowing them to plan accordingly and reallocate their assets in the meantime if possible. From a customer service perspective, this is a valuable tool not only for preserving relationships but for avoiding costly returns and claims. 
Sensor-enabled tags can collect information about environmental conditions during shipment, including temperature, vibration and moisture/humidity, documenting when and if goods were damaged en route. This is important for chain of custody issues, cold chains and any number of sensitive goods. The documentation this data provides can help to settle customer disputes and protect stakeholders in the event of losses during shipment. RTLS provides opportunities to create event-triggered alerts and the tracking of environmental metrics that help to guarantee that goods in motion reach their destination in the proper condition and, when they don’t, to identify the link in the chain where the problem occurred. 
When certain goods can’t get wet, too warm or cold, or have to be handled with care, sensor-enabled location data systems can provide the information you need to learn where things went wrong. 
End-to-end solutions based on location data and bringing higher container ROI, easy and reliable goods documentation reducing port times in an industry where that can easily save $100,000 an hour. 

What Healthcare is doing with RTLS location data

With large facilities full of expensive equipment, sensitive areas and many people in need of assistance, the Healthcare industry is tailor-made for the many applications of location data. 

Given the size of many healthcare facilities and the sometimes remote areas when staff sometimes find themselves alone with patients, the ability to remotely call for assistance has obvious appeal. Unfortunately, the threat of injury, whether accidental in the line of job duties or as a result of aggressive patient behavior, is a real concern in this field. Whether in hospitals, nursing homes or residential facilities, having to deal with volatile situations alone is a serious professional hazzard. When these situations occur, a tech solution is needed to call help fast. 
RTLS can address this need with button-enabled tags and sensors that let staff easily send such an alert. Whether it’s a dangerous situation with a patient or other emergency circumstances that require additional help, assistance is literally a button push away. There’s no need to waste valuable time returning through long hallways or face some threat alone when staff can be equipped with this “panic button” at all times. Peace of mind has real value for medical staff when they know they don’t have to face these threats alone. 

Like their counterparts in manufacturing, doctors, nurses and other specialists in healthcare use sophisticated machinery that often moves away from where it’s needed. That equipment can be quickly and easily found in the maze of hospital halls and rooms when it’s tagged as part of an RTLS deployment. This reduces time wasted searching for it—in an environment where every second often counts—and increases the quality of patient care. Due to its value, such equipment can also be geofenced into a defined area, triggering an automated alert when it is taken beyond those boundaries and safeguarding 

Educational institutions learning to use location data

Location data in schools? Absolutely! In fact, educational settings often take advantage of all the applications listed above, just slightly adapted to their unique needs.  
Schools and universities have valuable assets too and location data lets them find, manage and inventory them just like a factory, transit company or hospital would. Schools obviously have plenty of students, too, and their attendance can be accurately recorded in the same way as the workers in a manufacturing facility. There may be circumstances where an academic institution wants to restrict student access to a particular area or grant it only to members of a certain age or grade. This too can be done, just as it is in different industrial or other contexts. In very large areas of schools that are used intermittently, they may want to control heating or energy costs by monitoring which rooms are used and ensuring that heating and lighting are managed accordingly. Again, just as in shipping and transport, sensor-enabled tags and beacons can record environmental conditions and generate data that can be leveraged into better ways of organizing schedules and people flows to optimize the use of resources. 
If even schools can get so many uses out of location data, then surely there must be something in your own business that can benefit from RTLS! 

If want to discuss how real-time location data and analytics can improve your business, we’re ready to talk. 
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Asset Tracking Guide

Compliance standards weighing you down? We’ll show you three ways Bluetooth can be used to implement automation in healthcare to improve the quality of your organization and save you money.


A recent study from Johns Hopkins University found that in the US, the third leading cause of death is now attributed to medical errors. It’s no secret that we humans make mistakes. But when we recognize those mistakes and have the power to prevent them from occurring in the future, we have an obligation to do so. Automation is part of this solution.
In this post, we will demonstrate the benefits of automating your healthcare organization with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to:

 

Automating Compliance and Quality Control

Hospitals need to invest considerable time and resources into maintaining a clean, high-quality facility for the sake of patient and staff well-being. Internal and external regulatory bodies deliver guidelines for best practice compliance standards--but it is your organization’s job to decide how you will meet them.
Temperature and humidity are two mission critical variables for any healthcare organization because the preservation of drugs, vaccines, blood, samples, food, and the spread of bacteria depend on these environmental factors remaining within a certain range.
Traditional data loggers provide periodic readings or temperature and humidity levels, but require a person to check the readings, log the data, and run analysis on it over time to know the number and frequency of excursions from the standard that occur on a daily or weekly basis.
However, this is less than ideal for the worker, the patient, and the organization as a whole. Prone to error, fatigue and a general waste of time, modern solutions exist that are far more efficient at performing manual, time-consuming tasks than humans are for a fraction of the cost.
An example of such a solution is our BLE Condition Monitoring solution which uses beacons and tags to automate environmental monitoring, store data over time, and send proactive email or SMS alerts to stakeholders before a compliance breach ever occurs.
This allows staff to use their most precious resource--time--to focus on what matters most: providing quality, timely care to patients.
 

Value for the Future: Reducing Operating Costs

We know that introducing new technology into your healthcare organization can be difficult. Technology moves fast, budgets are tight, organizations are reluctant to change, and with new solutions popping up daily it can be difficult to know what is actually worth investing in.
That is why a prerequisite for a modern technology solution is that it will hang around for a while - that it is in a sense future-proof.
Or as future-proof as it can be. An important question you should ask yourself is: will this technology still be relevant in 3, 5 or 10 years time?
Though there are a lot of things we can’t be certain of, one thing that is sure is that our world will continue to be driven by data

"Data has the power to automate many of the jobs humans don’t particularly enjoy and aren’t very good at doing anyway."

Technology powered by Bluetooth is among the few technologies that industries as diverse as manufacturing, supply chain, and public infrastructure are investing billions in. That is because Bluetooth powered solutions are saving companies a lot of time and money by automating processes, locating assets and people, and other value-adding activities that were previously too expensive or impractical to achieve with other technologies.


Read our white paper on the Active Monitoring in Healthcare


Follow the investment: this is a strong indicator for future success. 
 

Improving Quality of Care: Reducing Clerical Burnout

The quality of the care provided at a healthcare organization is what comes to define it. Interactions one has with the staff and caregivers--the cleanliness and efficiency--are all contributing factors to the experience for patients and workforce alike.
Bluetooth can help optimize many of the quality issues facing healthcare organizations today including the steady increase in clerical burden.
A recent study found a strong correlation between increased clerical burden (layers of additional tasks outside of the caretakers primary responsibilities) and dissatisfaction among workers. This dissatisfaction can lead to a range of harmful effects for the caretaker, the patient, and the organization as a whole.
By automating many of the tasks that detract caregivers from their primary duties, they can invest themselves further in their work and their patients for the benefit of everyone. Less time spent on tasks that an inexpensive piece of technology can do means more time creating value for patients, the organization, and themselves.
 

Where to begin?

If all of this seems like a dramatic change from the status quo, don’t worry: it is. BLE is bringing a multi-purpose technology solution that is creating new uses cases and bringing sustainable value to the healthcare industry every day. Contact us to learn more about how we work with companies to solve their business problems.
 

[Updated for 2020]
[Updated for 2020]