February 28, 2024 | 10 minute

The Impact of RTLS on Patient Experience in Hospitals

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RTLS is an essential technology for hospitals due to its many applications in providing real-time patient tracking data and management of patients, staff, and medical equipment. Using these capabilities to track people and assets contributes to better asset utilization, lower operating costs, improved safety, and increased efficiency. It’s also central to delivering a higher standard of care for an exceptional patient experience through optimal patient flow, improved outcomes, and higher satisfaction levels.

Understanding the need for a positive patient experience and using the necessary tools to implement strategies are fundamental to shifting to patient-centered care. Every patient interaction with the healthcare system contributes to the overall patient experience, from scheduling timely appointments to accessing information to communication and care provided by doctors and nurses.

Paying closer attention to the importance of patient experience in modern healthcare via asset and patient tracking is necessary to accurately measure quality and performance within the health system. A positive experience increases patient satisfaction and the health system’s reputation, allowing it to stand out from competitors. RTLS is a key technology to achieve these goals.

Understanding RTLS

Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) use communication technology, software, and hardware to send wireless signals that identify the exact location of tagged people and assets in real-time. The hardware communicates locations and stored data to the cloud-based platform, which uses it for both asset tracking and management. The key components of an RTLS system include:

  • Anchor beacons: BLE beacons for wayfinding, indoor navigation, and more.
  • BLE tags: Lightweight BLE tags to track assets.
  • Nano tags: Small patient tags compatible with hospital bands for real-time tracking.
  • Portal beams: IoT devices for walls and ceilings that provide real-time data on occupancy and environmental conditions.
  • Smart badges: ID holders that send alerts and reporting data for improved staff safety.
  • Central software system: The cloud-based platform that allows you to monitor and manage your devices and solutions through various apps. combines hardware and software into a single, convenient platform to optimize processes and solve problems. Personnel can display asset location data via a map, send alerts via tags, or use the collected data to improve management practices like scheduling, equipment ordering, and transportation.

Application of RTLS in Hospitals

RTLS has many diverse applications in healthcare settings, particularly for tracking medical equipment, personnel, and patients by:

  • Tracking medical equipment for better utilization, smarter inventory practices, and less waste in ordering. RTLS makes it fast and easy for staff to find necessary equipment when needed.
  • Increasing bed turnover times by sending notifications when a patient gets discharged and a bed becomes available.
  • Improving contact tracing to lower HAI (Hospital Acquired Infection) risks, control the spread of infections, and track hand hygiene practices.
  • Increasing security by sending alerts when staff or patients enter unauthorized areas.
  • Providing staff with the capability to send alerts to summon help if they are in a dangerous situation.

These asset and patient-tracking capabilities contribute to operational efficiency by allowing you to monitor, locate, and track essential resources and your patients.

Improved Patient Flow

RTLS optimizes patient flow within hospitals in several ways. By tracking your assets like equipment and beds, you can locate the supplies necessary to provide patient care more quickly. It prevents wasted time hunting down assets or letting resources go unused because they become lost due to staff members hiding them for future use.

Another excellent way RTLS improves patient flow within a health system is with indoor navigation to patients and their family members with step-by-step directions, real-time maps, and automatic floor detection. RTLS also enables staff to coordinate care more seamlessly and schedule procedures promptly. These measures help reduce wait times, prevent overcrowding by moving patients through the facility, and ultimately enhance the patient journey. Timely care effectively reduces patient anxiety and boosts the healthcare facility’s perception and reputation.

Enhanced Patient Safety

RTLS tags affixed to patient wristbands send a continuous location signal to your network for better patient tracking. This helps you locate patients in an emergency and prevent patient elopement by tracking their location to avoid wandering abduction or unauthorized discharges.

This technology helps to prevent errors and ensure accurate medication administration by enhancing data collection and documentation. Digital whiteboards are an excellent tool to improve communication between staff members by sharing information about the patient’s medication schedule, care plan, and other critical data.

RTLS also improves patient safety by ensuring necessary supplies and equipment are available when needed, the facility has adequate numbers of nurses on staff and available to deliver care, and that personnel follow all hygiene practices.

Asset and Inventory Management

During a shift, nurses walk up to 4 miles and spend an average of 40 minutes searching for medical equipment they require to care for their patients. The difficulty in accessing the right equipment when it is needed leads to hoarding. This behavior and lost or underutilized medical equipment, cause the facility to overspend.

RTLS asset tracking and inventory can drastically reduce wasted time and lost and unused resources and control overspending on inventory. A simple system lets nurses locate what they need when they need it. This means they no longer have to hoard supplies, resulting in more accurate inventory and fewer unnecessary purchases.

RTLS also makes it possible for departments to share resources. Asset and inventory management can reallocate those resources if one department has an overabundance of unused supplies while another has a shortage. Equipment tracking can save a 200-bed hospital an estimated $3.5 million annually.

Positive Impacts on Staff Efficiency

RTLS increases efficiency by streamlining communication and coordination among healthcare staff. Location tracking of patients and equipment allows staff members to schedule procedures with other departments and providers to avoid bottlenecks, lengthy waits, or miscommunication. RTLS significantly reduces the time staff members spend searching for equipment or dealing with interruptions and other administrative tasks that take them away from their primary duties.

Improved staff efficiency has a positive impact on patient care and satisfaction. Asset tracking and ensuring the right staff members are present in the correct departments make collaborating easier and provide high-quality patient care with reduced wait times.

Streamlining caregiver workflows has the added benefit of reducing mental and physical stress on personnel. They can focus on doing their jobs without the added strain and burden of extra responsibilities, leading to burnout over time.

Patient-Centric Technologies

One of the benefits of implementing RTLS solutions is the scalability. Your facility can easily add new use cases or expand existing capabilities as needed. Along with providing a scalable solution, RTLS is compatible with numerous emerging technologies that integrate with RTLS to enhance the patient experience, such as mobile apps, patient portals, and interactive displays.

Accessibility to information is essential for staff and patients alike. Staff members can access the cloud-based platform through interactive displays at an office location or through convenient mobile apps, giving them access to necessary information and communication abilities from anywhere.

Integrations on the patient’s side include patient portals. Patients must have access to healthcare information such as test results, care plans, and scheduled appointments to communicate with other healthcare providers. Accessing this information at any time through a secure portal gives them greater control and insight into their healthcare options. It’s also an easy way to perform essential tasks like checking insurance and billing information. Facilities that implement this type of technology typically see higher patient satisfaction rates.

Case Studies and Examples

On paper, RTLS has many advantages for healthcare systems. The great news is that real-world examples of hospitals or healthcare systems that have successfully implemented RTLS to improve patient experience back up these claims and prove that this technology is worthwhile and essential.

For example, Riverside Healthcare in Kankakee, IL, used RTLS to track medical devices and patient elopement in its 300-bed hospital. It started with the recognition of a problem:

  • Riverside wanted to track medical devices reliably to speed up location and minimize waste.
  • The facility also wanted to stop patient elopement, or patients leaving the facility before completing treatment, or because they got confused and wandered off.

Poor asset management led to staff members wasting time searching for equipment and having trouble accessing vital equipment when needed. In response, staff became frustrated, and patients had a negative experience. The issue of patient elopement was a safety concern. provided a complete solution that addressed both of these issues. Tagging assets ensured staff had access to the appropriate equipment as needed and that inventory remained within reasonable levels. Implementing RTLS patient tracking enabled Riverside to track and monitor patients to ensure they stayed in the appropriate areas of the hospital for their safety and could alert staff to intervene if anyone moved into a restricted area.

Challenges and Considerations

As with any technology, implementing and maintaining RTLS in hospitals has potential challenges. Knowing what to expect and having a strategy in place can help you navigate these challenges and ensure a smooth integration:

  • Choose a trusted software provider: is an industry expert with a proven track record.
  • Get the support of your facility’s leaders: Outline the benefits and financial gains the facility can expect from implementing RTLS.
  • Specify your goals: Identify the areas you wish to improve with RTLS, such as asset search time and patient flow. This helps you in selecting which RTLS you require.
  • Create a list of your existing software systems in every department: Include everything from accounting to management software to streamline the integration process.
  • Determine your ideal location accuracy: RTLS solutions offer estimated or more precise room-based data.
  • Choose tags wisely: Select tags that reflect the asset value.
  • Consider scalability: Choose a system that allows for expansion with minimal disruption or downtime.
  • Train your staff: All new technology requires hands-on training to ensure staff members understand how the system works.
  • Update periodically: Conduct regular system analysis to make changes as needed.
  • Manage your expectations of setup time: RTLS implementation takes time. Learning more about the process and working with a expert are great ways to ensure a smooth process that is up and running as soon as possible.

The benefits of implementing RTLS in healthcare far outweigh the challenges. By having a plan and working with to discover the best solutions for your needs, you can streamline the roll-out process and quickly experience the advantages of RTLS.

Future Trends

Focusing solely on short-term needs frequently leads to more significant costs down the road when you need to upgrade or replace an outdated system. Instead, implementing future-proof solutions leaves you open to scaling your current infrastructure and integrating new technologies as they become available. Cloud-based solutions and open APIs are ideal examples of solutions with an ever-expanding portfolio of use cases to adjust per your needs while still delivering a significant ROI.

Anticipated by industry experts, the growth of RTLS technology is poised to surge in response to escalating demand. Its widespread applications in supply chain optimization, patient and staff safety, and efficient asset management have proven invaluable, capturing ongoing attention. Given the pronounced focus on these key factors, it is assumed that technology will persistently evolve, embracing new trends and advancements to enhance current practices and deliver superior solutions. This underscores the enduring presence and influence of RTLS technology, substantiating its lasting impact on the hospital patient experience. Facilities that neglect to embrace this technological wave risk trailing behind their competitors.


RTLS significantly enhances the patient experience in hospitals by optimizing asset and patient tracking, improving staff efficiency, facilitating smoother patient flow, and enhancing overall patient safety. The culmination of these benefits leads to the delivery of high-quality care with increased efficiency. Patients value the seamless collaboration among staff, which reduces wait times and addresses their needs promptly. This ultimately results in a more positive experience, improved patient outcomes, and elevated levels of patient satisfaction.