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RTLS data across the healthcare enterprise

May 06, 2021
Business Affairs Health IT
Christopher Thompson
From the May 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Christopher Thompson

In the ongoing quest to enhance healthcare operations and patient outcomes, healthcare organizations are prioritizing efforts to improve how they collect and leverage data. Comprehensive and accurate data acquisition is a key foundational component of data analytics, which can lead to better decision-making and help reduce costs and improve operational efficiencies as well as the patient, staff, and visitor experience.

Real-time location systems (RTLS) provide an effective method for automating the collection of location-based data. Automated data collection reduces human error and frees up staff time to be spent on more valuable and complex tasks, such as patient care. In addition, most RTLS platforms support automated reporting, which can streamline compliance documentation.

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Leveraging data for RTLS analytics
The value of an RTLS installation extends beyond automated data collection; it also offers meaningful analytics to inform a wide variety of improvements. When integrated with other data sources, such as electronic health records or enterprise resource planning systems, aggregate data provides a comprehensive view of activities across the entire healthcare enterprise. This allows administrators to spot trends and uncover actionable insights.

A recent example of the power of aggregate data: many healthcare organizations have combined their RTLS data with other information to support their fight against COVID-19. Several organizations have been able to implement contact tracing programs that use historical location data to create on-demand, near real-time interaction reports detailing patients, staff, visitors, and even equipment that have come in contact with a person infected with the virus - and for how long.

Healthcare organizations are also leveraging integrated RTLS automated monitoring solutions to comply with state and federal vaccine storage requirements. Real-time environmental monitoring sensors can be configured to trigger immediate alerts when temperatures fall outside of set parameters, prompting the closest appropriate staff members to take action to avoid unnecessary loss.

Asset tracking and PAR-level management
One of the most popular uses of RTLS in healthcare settings is asset tracking. Utilizing RTLS smart tags, facilities can better manage equipment to ensure assets are available and clean when and where they are needed and to prevent overspending on unnecessary equipment. Key to the management of equipment is the establishment and management of unit-based PAR levels.

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