Transforming Hospital Staff Tracking with Bluetooth Badges

3 November 2020

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

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Efficiency of Hospital Staff Tracking System

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 badges, 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 healthcare 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. Smart Badges 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 Smart Badges 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.

The Bluetooth badges system for hospital staff tracking

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 Smart Badge 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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    [Updated for 2020]
    [Updated for 2020]