April 24, 2024 | 6 minute

Why RTLS Is Critical for Preventing Patient Elopement

Senior Female Patient in Wheelchair & Doctor in Hospital
scroll to top

Patient elopement, when a patient leaves a healthcare facility unsupervised, poses a serious safety risk that can have devastating results, from the patient getting lost, sustaining an injury, or even dying. Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, pediatric patients, and people with altered mental states or behavioral problems are the most vulnerable populations. Emergency departments also see high patient elopement rates because of the stressful environment and long wait times. However, elopement is a real risk for all patients.

Staff can’t keep a physical eye on each patient. Yet traditional elopement prevention methods like locked doors and barriers are ineffective. Others, such as patient restraints, are harmful. Keeping every patient safe throughout their care journey is a top priority of a healthcare system, and finding a solution is urgent.

Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) are a critical tool in addressing the challenge of patient elopement. Learn how’s technology can assist in determining solutions to eliminate this concern in your hospital.

The Role of RTLS in Patient Safety

Around 400,000 patients each year leave hospitals without authorization, and this number may be underreported. The fatality rate for patients missing longer than 24 hours is 25%. The gravity of this issue underscores the urgent need for an effective solution, such as RTLS.

Understanding RTLS

RTLS is a technology that automatically identifies and tracks the location of objects or people. Organizations can choose from various tracking hardware options, including RFID, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ultrasound. The RTLS software monitors and interprets the data provided by the hardware.

BLE nano tags are small, wearable devices that affix to hospital bands and allow the RTLS platform to track the wearer’s location in real-time through live map views. They send out continuous signals once activated with a simple touch of a button. The extended battery life of the BLE technology runs the device for up to three months.

Access points and gateways around the facility read the nano tag and send signals to the Cloud for interpretation. The device also sends an alert if a patient moves beyond their patient boundaries.

The Benefits of RTLS for Patient Elopement Prevention

RTLS works with room-level accuracy on every patient who wears a wristband. The advantages of deploying RTLS for patient tracking include:

  • Enabling staff to quickly locate wandering or at-risk patients.
  • Triggering alerts when patients approach unauthorized exits.

Real-time location tracking enables staff to respond in seconds to emergencies and intervene fast in elopement attempts. This elevated level of protection can improve the patient experience and health outcomes while lowering security risks.

Riverside Healthcare: Successfully Solving Patient Elopement with RTLS

Riverside Healthcare is a nationally recognized, 300-bed hospital. Like all healthcare facilities, it had a problem with patients leaving the hospital before they were released. Riverside Healthcare turned to for a way to accurately track patient location to increase safety by making sure they could not leave the property or enter into dangerous or restricted areas.

RTLS provides an effective patient elopement solution because it sends Riverside Healthcare staff immediate alerts when someone leaves or enters a prohibited area. Staff then uses RTLS to find that patient’s location in real-time.’s solution utilizes IoT devices, patient wristbands, gateways, and software to provide a streamlined solution for hospital staff to closely monitor patient location to prevent elopement and increase safety.

New call-to-action

Enhanced Security with RTLS

RTLS helps to solve major challenges in patient safety and security by integrating with electronic door access control systems to prevent unauthorized exits. Door automation goes hand-in-hand with access control systems like’s RTLS.

Electronic doors don’t require users to push or pull a door handle to gain access. Instead, the door opens automatically, unlocking when it recognizes the unique I.D. number on the user’s badge or tag. With access control, you can easily determine who has authorization to pass through the doors of different departments. If a patient does not have authorization their wristband won’t trigger the door to open.

With this technology, you can create virtual safe zones around high-risk areas. Define and set virtual boundaries by identifying safe zones that allow everyone to pass through, and designate danger zones by restricted access to authorized personnel.

RTLS door automation is also highly convenient, letting pre-authorized individuals come and go quickly while keeping vulnerable populations away from dangerous zones. Your staff can move throughout your facility freely while carrying supplies or maneuvering medical equipment without the need to stop, scan a badge, or manually open a door.

Beyond Elopement Prevention: Additional Benefits of RTLS

RTLS does a lot more than prevent patient elopement. An important part of care is communication and coordination. RTLS provides helpful patient room displays to share vital information like medication schedules, care appointments, and more on digital whiteboards.

Another advantage for patients and visitors is indoor navigation. Finding your way through a healthcare facility is often challenging and confusing. Indoor navigation provides patients and their families with step-by-step directions and real-time maps to get to where they need to go without getting lost.

This technology is excellent for optimizing workflows, tracking assets, and streamlining other tasks that improve patient care. RTLS can help staff locate needed equipment and supplies quickly. Not only does this reduce wait times to provide a better patient experience, but it impacts outcomes by delivering necessary care fast. Implementing’s RTLS platform can also streamline workflows and improve staff efficiency through the following:

  • Real-time asset tracking
  • Inventory management
  • Asset utilization
  • Wheelchair tracking
  • Bed management
  • Preventing bottlenecks and care delays

When you deploy RTLS, you not only make the care process safer and more satisfying for patients, but you also improve staff experiences and security. RTLS is an essential part of combating nurse duress through proactive measures and immediate responses to alerts signaling for help.

Final Thoughts

Patient elopement is a real risk that can cause serious harm. Patients who leave the hospital without authorization may face real dangers. Some patients miss out on time-sensitive medication doses or treatments, putting them at risk of worsening their condition or creating new complications. The repercussions of the event can also cause lasting psychological harm to both the patient and their family.

Finding a proactive solution for preventing patient elopement is an essential safety measure for every healthcare facility. By implementing RTLS technology, your hospital can create a safer environment for patients and staff. Contact our team at today to learn more about our RTLS platform. Discover how this technology can solve the challenge of patient elopement while providing additional value to optimize your care operations.