Cost cuts, staff efficiency improvements, delays and errors reduction, and patient satisfaction are critical factors facing healthcare matters. Furthermore, medical institutions face severe medical predicaments, including staff duress, hospital infection, workflow improvements, medical equipment return on investment control, and other management.
Real-time locating systems (RTLS), which make asset monitoring and patient and staff tracking possible, are gaining popularity in the healthcare industry as a solution to these challenges.
What is RTLS? How does it apply in Healthcare?
Real-time locating systems (RTLS) monitor objects and people in real-time within enclosed areas, such as buildings, warehouses, hospitals, etc. Take, for example, Blueiot AoA positioning system, attaching RTLS transmitters (usually called tags) to objects or wearing them on people, a fixed reference point (usually called an anchor) receives wireless signals from them to calculate their location. In addition to using tags on objects or people, one of the most commonly used RTLS technologies is Bluetooth AoA, which can be used on any Bluetooth-enabled device, such as smartphones, watches, and other devices, that can omit unnecessary transmitters. Hence, this article demonstrates how Bluetooth AoA RTLS can be implemented in healthcare.
In order to complete a smart healthcare RTLS solution, the software is architecturally supported and connected by wireless tags and anchors. The calculation engine collects raw position data and analyzes it into precise position coordinates, while the application layer displays different functions for customers.
How can RTLS benefit smart healthcare?
Based on fundamental functions like real-time location display and tracking people and objects, RTLS in healthcare has explored numerous specific application scenarios.
Asset management and medical equipment tracking are two main reasons to use RTLS for medical institutions.
Asset Management & Tracking
Medical institutions tend to manage and monitor a large number of medical assets, including tools, equipment, and machinery, which is complex to acquire real-time location and status artificially. Blueiot real time locating system provides five main functions:
Track the trajectory of the asset
Count the number/categories/status/in and out time/duration of stay/… of asset and generate a report via the area stats function
Examine real-time image and status of valuable equipment through security camera linkage and recording software
Forbid unauthorized movement of assets and unauthorized visits to specific areas by in-time warning
Label expiry data of medication based on open API
In the face of diverse application, whether the needed equipment is available becomes an crucial issue in healthcare. Blueiot real time locating system helps you:
Confirm the asset status through three modes of tag, online (being used), offline (not in use) and dormant (proper functioning but not moving)
Check the availability of hospital beds
Check the number of available equipment and its detailed information
Examine real-time image
Warn in low battery
Asset anti-lost scenario protects valuable, rare or controlled asset from
Displaying historical position data and trajectory of equipment
Recording in and out time/duration of stay/… of asset and generate a report
Assigning an area which requires the existence of valuable asset
Warning of unauthorized departure
Except for effectively managing asset, trajectory and usage history are proving to be hugely powerful in improving ROI and revenue.
Two major participants in smart healthcare are patients and staff involved in many different healthcare processes.
ER patient triage and care
How to improve workflow and patients in the ED (Emergency Department) is a persistent dilemma for hospitals. Many user cases have proved that RTLS is effective in improving ER (Emergency Room) patient triage and care in the following aspects:
ER patients triage with different levels of tags
Warning when vital signs are abnormal
Monitor ER patient progress along the ED visit, including their overall length of stay (OLOS) in the ED, how long they wait for nurses and physicians, and the OLOS between triage and discharge or admission
Track ER patient real-time location to ensure safety
Display ER patient’s information and status
Rapid input of new ER patients’ information
RTLS provides powerful assistance for patient care through:
Recording in and out time of all patients, OLOS, and numbers of patients, which can be used to measure treatment time and improve the treatment process
Recording patients’ routines to optimize hospital layout and arrangement
Creating geo fences in a specific zone that prevents unauthorized movement, manages visitors, and controls patients with infectious diseases
Warning abnormality of vital signs, including heart rate, blood oxygen, and body temperature
Supporting more Bluetooth-enabled terminals to detect vital signs of patients
Notifying patients to take medicine
Inputting and displaying patients’ information
In addition to their use in medical device management, RTLS has found a new application: addressing staff safety and duress. According to a survey, healthcare workers have reported experiencing (or being close to) violence from a patient or caregiver 9 out of 10 times in the past month. It is estimated that three of four workers have been assaulted verbally and physically in one month, and nearly half of them had to call for assistance from colleagues or security. Therefore, Blueiot offers the real-time location of staff to
Increase response speed in emergency
Monitor and export regional statistics of violence events, which is necessary for worksite analysis for making workplace violence prevention programs and identifying risk factors
Display heat map of violent accidents to assist the hospital in reinforcing security measures
Switch CCTV to the staff who has triggered SOS mode to capture the real-time image and immediately locate the specific location
Confirm whether the staff who needs help is moving through tag status
With RTLS, the non-value added time has experienced a significant reduction because the Blueiot RTLS system can
Record the trajectory of patients and staff, which can be used to analyze routine to improve treatment steps and workflow
Adjust treatment order or workforce arrangement, etc., based on in/out the time of patients, OLOS, and numbers of patients in a certain region
Report heat map of personnel location data to arrange spatial arrangement and workforce distribution reasonably
Send messages to dispatch workforce in busy times and remind them to prompt action by navigation
Automate nurse calls when the nurse tag is detected in a specific zone to reduce wasted motion
RTLS can achieve staff management from the following aspects:
Record and export in/out time and duration of stay of staff to collect arrive and leave time and calculate man-hour automatically
Assign a geo fence recording attendance when staff enters
List personal information of attendance and absence
Export attendance lists
Monitor staff heart rate
Except for common functions like locating assets and personnel, Blueiot’s open ecosystem supports exploring more exclusive and practical tasks by integrating with other IoT terminals.
For healthcare institutions, high-precision positioning technology will effectively solve many difficult problems based on multiple application scenarios using innovated indoor positioning and navigation.