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RTLS Now Goes Beyond “Dots On A Map”

Dots on a map-resized-600We’ve been saying for a while now that RTLS is a transformative technology for healthcare, with potential that goes far beyond finding a hidden IV pump.

So it was refreshing to learn that Terry Broussard thinks the same thing.  Mr. Broussard is Vice President of Support Services at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center. In a roundtable discussion titled Real-time Locating Systems published last month in Tech Nation Magazine, he said the following:

“As a relative newcomer to the usage of RTLS in our hospital, I think we are just beginning to tap into the potential that it has to offer. Our initial roll out included equipment and personnel, but now we are gathering interests in process automation throughout our facility. I think that will be the future.”

We see real-time, enterprise-wide process automation as the future of healthcare as well.  We’ve even given it a name – automated healthcare operations management.

It’s based upon an industrial concept known as the “real-time enterprise,” which uses a widely distributed array of sensors to provide instant feedback on virtually every aspect of an organization’s daily functions. The primary objectives of the real-time enterprise are to cut wasted time out of the production process and provide advance warning of potential problems.

Broussard continues:

“Automation of processes through the use of RTLS will be a huge labor saving event in healthcare. The automatic documentation of temp logs, team activity, etc. is critical to our industry for compliance.”

Broussard thinks once other teams see the benefits of a core suite of RTLS products, they will all want to integrate them into their areas. Coming from a hospital executive, this is great to hear.

What does healthcare automation and RTLS mean to us?

For so long, “automation” was a taboo word in healthcare, conjuring visions of emotionless, assembly-line patient treatment that reduced care delivery to “widget manufacturing.”

To us, healthcare automation means just the opposite. It trims time lost to redundancy and process inefficiency so that caregivers can spend more time with patients and more patients can have access to quality care.

TeleTracking has now integrated RTLS with its capacity management and business analytics software to create the first operational platform of its kind in healthcare.  That means we can track patients, staff, physicians, assets, temperature, hand hygiene compliance, patient flow, transfers, admissions, OR performance, all from a single source.

TeleTracking’s Tom Perry and Jon Poshywak, who also took part in the roundtable, both said RTLS can have significant impact on patient safety as well as employee productivity. For example, TeleTracking is now a reseller of Hill-Rom’s market-leading hand hygiene monitoring solution. The hand hygiene system uses RTLS to remind employees to wash their hands on entering a patient room and monitors their compliance. Hill-Rom has found that compliance increases by approximately 30 percent soon after the solution is introduced.

While several RTLS systems provide speed and accuracy, they cautioned, prospective buyers should investigate which technologies are capable of extending beyond “dots on a map” locating. A technology that is scalable is a wise choice. It can accommodate simple asset locating with lower levels of granularity as a start, but then granularity can be added to achieve room or sub-room levels of accuracy for more sophisticated capabilities.

Ensuring that RTLS goes beyond ‘dots on a map’: Tips and Recommendations

They recommend technologies that are non-disruptive to install, easy to maintain, and capable of integration with multiple systems. As more and more clients see the value of RTLS beyond asset management, they are looking for inbound and outbound connectivity between multiple applications, which itself helps compound that value through an organization.   After years of establishing a reputation for integration and interfacing knowledge and excellence, TeleTracking is applying that same knowledge to the RTLS space, becoming the ultimate data broker for our client.

Other RTLS “tips” from the roundtable:

  • Start with the end in mind and look to the solution vs. the technology
  • Assign an owner to the system for ongoing education and management
  • Ensure your service provider is certified to manage and service your RTLS infrastructure
  • Find an RTLS provider who wants to be your facility’s long-term partner for success
  • Get a provider who will objectively assess your needs and customize the optimal solution
  • Speak with your peers to research who is buying what and why
  • Calculate ROI because the C-Suite will be asking
  • Buy from an experienced RTLS provider to avoid surprise
  • Factor in wiring, patient room closures, network redesign, battery replacement, etc

Most of all make sure the provider you choose is known for great customer service because, according to Mr. Broussard, that “is critical to making this work for you.”

Mark your calendar! May 30 – June 2, 2014 for the annual American Association of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) Tradeshow.  Visit TeleTracking at Booth #155!

Categories: Author: Jon Poshywak, Real-Time Locating System (RTLS)