Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) in modern healthcare facilities assist in optimizing patient tracking for enhanced functioning efficiency and patient safety. Utilizing a combination of technologies, including but not limited to RFID, Wi-Fi, and IR, RTLS can pinpoint the location of patients and equipment. It minimizes delays and ensures patients’ safety.
A feasibility study found that integrating a minuscule healthcare RTLS would greatly improve patient care, logistics, and transportation. Moreover, by using RTLS, healthcare providers can achieve streamlined workflows with rapid response to patient needs, reduce the peril of misplaced or misallocated resources, and enhance compliance with safety protocols for better patient outcomes and operational superiority.
It is very important to know how RTLS can help you, and here are some of its information.
1. Explanation of Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS)
As mentioned earlier, Real-Time Location System—with the short form of RTLS—utilize a combination of wireless technologies. Some of these include RFID, Wi-Fi, UWB or BLE AoA to identify and monitor the locations of objects or people within a defined space. When the anchors collect signals from tags, the central processing unit of RTLS will process this data and determine the tracked object’s position or individual. Subsequently, it provides a highly accurate, real-time location of the position.
2. The Technology’s Capability
RTLS can track medical assets, patients, and staff within a healthcare facility. With this system, healthcare providers can track patient flow, monitor equipment utilization, and manage staff assignments—all in real time. Thus, it empowers administrators to optimize workflows, reduce wait times, and enhance patient care, along with stringent security and compliance standards.
3. Various Components of an RTLS Patient Tracking System
These are devices attached to the objects or individuals to be tracked. They transmit data to anchors using various signaling technologies for precise location tracking. Tags have been developed into different forms based on specific use cases.
Anchors are responsible for collecting signals from tags and then determining their location based on signal strength or time of arrival. With multiple anchors, RTLS can distinguish the position of tags and provide highly accurate spatial information.
3) Central Processing Unit
The RTLS central processing unit is the system’s backbone. It processes the raw data anchors collected with complex algorithms. Hence, it can calculate exact locations, manage the tracking of numerous tags, and represent tracked items through user interfaces.
4) Data Analytics Platform
The component transforms vast amounts of location data into exact locations. With advanced analytics techniques, healthcare providers can master the location information of objects or individuals and implement optimizations. This patient-tracking platform can often be customized to align with organizational goals or compliance requirements.
Healthcare Facility’s Patient Tracking Challenges
Before you implement an RTLS, you should have some understanding of your needs and make some preparations.
1. Conduct a Thorough Needs Assessment
Conducting a thorough needs assessment before implementing an RTLS in a healthcare facility aligns the technology with specific demands. After analyzing workflow patterns, patient flow dynamics, equipment utilization, and integration requirements with existing hospital information systems, the healthcare facility needs to ensure that the RTLS solution can address unique challenges.
2. Challenges that an RTLS System Can Address
1) Asset Tracking and Utilization
RTLS can track real-time medical equipment, reduce search time, and optimize asset utilization. It involves wireless technologies to provide precise location data and minimize wait times.
2) Patient Flow Management
RTLS aids in tracking patient movement through different departments. As a result, it allows for better coordination and reduced wait times. Implementing RTLS provides timely care for patients.
3) Staff Workflow Optimization
Using RTLS, healthcare facilities can monitor staff workflow, reduce coordination time, and improve work efficiency. Integrating this with workforce management systems can ensure optimal resource allocation and reduce the information gap.
4) Environmental Monitoring
RTLS sensors can monitor whether environmental conditions like temperature and humidity suit some medical supplies and alert staff because some vaccines or facilities require specific storage circumstances.
5) Compliance and Security
Implementing RTLS can assist in monitoring access to restricted areas. Accordingly, it ensures that only authorized personnel have access, enhancing security protocols and regulatory compliance.
3. Involvement of Key Stakeholders
Remember that involving key stakeholders from different departments helps successfully implement an RTLS solution. IT professionals must be aligned with clinical staff to understand the practical applications and ensure technological compatibility. Meanwhile, administrators must work closely with finance and procurement teams to evaluate ROI and ensure budget alignment.
Undoubtedly, this cross-departmental collaboration will enhance the technical specifications, workflow integration, data privacy concerns, and compliance requirements. The customization of RTLS can help to improve collaboration efficiency. It involves cooperation from infection control teams, nursing staff, IT, and compliance officers.
Furthermore, this collective effort ensures the RTLS solution not only addresses the immediate operational challenges but also fits into the long-term strategic vision of the healthcare facility.
BLE AoA Products from Blueiot for Patient Tracking
For healthcare facilities looking to enhance patient tracking, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) AoA (Angle of Arrival) products from Blueiot are an advanced solution.
They utilize the BLE AoA-based indoor position method for precise location tracking within the healthcare facility. Apart from that, Blueiot’s BLE AoA products are known for their high compatibility, high accuracy, and low energy, which is superlative for continuous monitoring. The RTLS can effortlessly integrate with existing healthcare systems for seamless patient flow management.
Last but not least, Blueiot provides vigorous security measures in line with healthcare compliance standards to ensure patient data integrity.
With an RTLS, healthcare facilities can achieve efficient patient tracking, providing high-quality patient care, ensuring patient safety, and optimizing resource allocation. At the same time, it can also manage device locations and reduce search time, promoting efficient work. If you are also interested in it, please reach out to Blueiot for your RTLS solution.
 Reducing search times and entropy in hospital emergency departments with real-time location systems. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/24725579.2021.1881660. (Accessed: 22 August 2023)