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RTLS/RFID points to life-saving potential that may surprise

por Jennifer Rioux, Contributing Reporter | February 04, 2016
Health IT
Phyllis Carlin
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

In an environment of accountable care and the impending reality of valuebased reimbursement, the necessity of transforming workflows and technical infrastructure to address standardized quality measures has hospitals scrambling for solutions. RTLS technology and associated analytic systems are developing rapidly to meet the needs of providers that are looking to mine large warehouses of data to inform strategies aimed at optimal care coordination.

A number of companies are working to advance the industry and developing more innovative solution-based applications. The RTLS industry has moved beyond the typical return-on-investment thinking. It is now looking more intently at patient flow and communication within facilities to identify areas where precious minutes can be saved in OR time, patient waiting, staff response and equipment/ staff/location.

A growth industry

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MD Buyline describes its services as advocacy and strategizing for hospitals in the value analysis and technology acquisition process. They’ve been keeping an eye on trends in RTLS technology and cite a study from ReportsnReports.com that projected growth of 32.9 percent for the industry from 2014 to 2020. They advise sticking with a single vendor if possible to avoid incompatibility, poor communication and finger pointing when issues arise.

Phyllis Carlin, an IT Analyst at MD Buyline, says that in general, ROI for RTLS technology depends on the use-case, with traditional asset tracking demonstrating a 99 percent asset retrieval. However, there are also savings in reduced waiting room and OR time and “soft savings” in increased patient and staff satisfaction. Carlin estimates that about 20 percent of the industry has currently adopted the technology, and that based on the quote activity she has seen, growth will comprise 50 percent new customers/ add-ons and 50 percent recurring fees for maintenance and service.

Companies differ in terms of the specifics of the technology they provide to customers. Some use traditional Wi-Fi as the foundation of their infrastructure, while other companies are utilizing infrared, Bluetooth or ultrasound to deliver tracking capabilities. While one could debate the merits of the various methods, the most important variable remains the accuracy of the interface between the tags and the tracking technology being used. Industry insiders have provided some additional questions hospitals should ask when deciding how they might leverage the technology.

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