Real-Time Location Systems are making a big difference in front-line US Healthcare services. RTLS is helping to create a highly efficient healthcare system that benefits patient welfare in many ways. Healthcare professionals from all sectors feel safer at work, and hospitals see significant benefits to their day-to-day business operations.
RTLS is growing in popularity. Year after year, RTLS implementations have increased, yielding countless successful use cases. RLTS is found in hospitals, medical surgeries, and even nursing homes. The technology provides a significant volume of business intelligence that has some direct benefits for healthcare. This article will discover why many healthcare providers have gone all in on RTLS.
What Is RTLS?
RTLS is a technology solution that identifies and tracks the location of people or objects in real-time or near real-time. RFID tags are used throughout the healthcare environment, and wireless sensors determine their location throughout a chosen perimeter. The RFID tags are essentially portable IoT devices that gather specific data, typically location, temperature, humidity, and airflow.
The sensors are located throughout the hospital, perhaps attached to medical equipment, given to staff to wear, or allocated to patients on arrival. They are often found in the maternity ward, and if you have had children recently, they likely had an RTLS sensor around their feet.
RTLS allows healthcare managers to know exactly where equipment and critical employees are if needed in an emergency. As a result, the system helps to manage patient flow and improves hospital efficiency, saving time for patients and employees.
RTLS and Patient Services
Patients see a significant improvement in the delivery of front-line services when using RTLS sensors. Hospitals are full of beacons that track the flow of patients in and out of the hospital. Hospital management can track footfall throughout the healthcare location, including data such as movement at the hospital entrance, the number of patients in each department, and the capacity and waiting times for each department.
RTLS can be used to document room usage, bed tracking, ward capacity, and treatment room usage levels. It enables managers to reallocate resources to where they are needed and quickly identify free beds and the likelihood that a bed will be available soon. In addition, cleaners can be notified automatically, and managers will know when a room is available for use again.
Each use case improves the patient experience and assists healthcare professionals in providing efficient healthcare.
RTLS and Equipment Management
One of the most popular implementations of RTLS is to deliver improved hospital equipment management. Hospitals are vast, and machines are located throughout the ward and surgery rooms. Because equipment positioning is vital in a medical emergency, it’s essential to know where medical equipment is in emergency rooms. RTLS improves asset management because the sensors can report the device’s location anywhere in the hospital.
RTLS helps healthcare managers answer vital questions like how often the medical devices are used. For example, are they relocated to patient rooms frequently, or are they never moving, instead sitting in a corner for months? In addition, management can buy and sell devices based on usage analytics or improve room facilities if a machine is frequently wheeled into patient rooms.
Each sensor is portable and can be attached when vital life-saving equipment is being transferred around the hospital or practice. For example, consider blood transportation; an RTLS sensor can be added to the package. It will monitor the location of the parcel but also the temperature inside the box and alarm if there is any unauthorized tampering, all ensuring 6safe transportation.
RTLS is used for temperature management extensively in fridges, autoclaves, medication storage, theatres, and hospital kitchens. Sensors monitor sanitization stations’ fill and usage levels and improve shrinkage control (loss of product). Monitoring prevents wastage and saves practices much cash.
RTLS and Staff Management
One massive widespread use case for RTLS is staff protection. For example, consider healthcare professionals working in correctional facilities or delivering front-line mental health services. Around 41% of these workers suffer physical violence in the workplace. RTLS is used to track staff at their place of work to improve safety, and each device can act as a panic button that alerts security and management in the event of an incident.
Other use cases are iris biometrics, which introduces non-intrusive positive id access control for secure areas such as medicine cabinets or attached to automated security doors and locks. RTLS enables specialists to be located quickly, for example, if an emergency doctor is needed or an anesthetist is required in maternity for an epidural. Having comprehensive hospital visibility and protection to employees is game-changing when delivering critical healthcare.
Benefits of RTLS
There are many benefits to using RTLS in the US healthcare industry. Naturally, there will be some privacy concerns, but assurances should be given that the mandatory legislative requirements of HIPAA compliance cover RTLS. The majority of data used by RTLS is anonymous; however, it can hold protected health information in certain use cases, for example, on room information boards.
RTLS introduces flexibility to healthcare management, saves time and money, and has no internal influence on decision-making. The analytics benefit healthcare even more, allowing hospitals to plan expansions, purchase orders, and improve equipment maintenance. This approach enhances the quality of care and helps to reduce waste.
RTLS and HIPAA compliance
RTLS can be made HIPAA compliant; not only must the local RTLS sensors, beacons, and infrastructure need to be compliant, but also the mission-critical cloud servers that power the intelligence behind the technology.
All data must be anonymized or meet HIPAA compliance’s mandatory physical, technical and administrative safeguards. Atlantic.Net has been providing world-class, mission-critical HIPAA-compliant hosting services for decades, and we are proud to host some of the biggest names in healthcare.
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