The Guide to Patient Tracking in Hospitals Using RTLS
By the Altus Team
Published Aug 03, 2022
| Updated Nov 16, 2022
| 5 min read
RTLS systems are a newer technology that offers a wide range of capabilities many hospital leaders have never thought of utilizing. With capabilities to track hospital equipment, ensure staff safety, and even patient tracking; it can be a lot of information to take in. To make the process easier, Altus compiled this helpful guide to patient tracking. Keep reading to discover how RTLS improves patient tracking and benefits hospital systems.
What is RTLS and How Does It Work?
Real-Time Location Services are a method of asset tracking employed by hospitals and healthcare facilities. RTLS monitors the location of equipment, people, and even contact tracing – using tags or badges registered to network appliances, platforms, and servers.
Sensors embedded in RTLS tags send electronic signals using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to a secure online program that allows administrators to see the location and status of the tagged person or item. This data empowers hospitals to track patients accurately and safely and improves the patient’s experience from arrival to discharge.
The process of setting patients up for tracking starts the moment they arrive at a hospital. Upon arriving at the hospital, the patient receives a bracelet embedded with an RTLS tag. That tag includes patient data like their name, allergies, medical records, conditions, test results, and more. As the patients move within the hospital, sensors register their location according to the tag in their bracelet. RTLS systems can be used on a variety of patients to ensure their safety, including sensitive situations with fall risks, elopement, and confused patients.
RTLS tracking houses essential patient data while managing their location throughout your facility’s campus. It provides instant location information, and with room-level accuracy – it’s the ideal patient tracking method for a healthcare setting.
RTLS Patient Tracking: Prioritizing Patient Safety
RTLS tracking empowers hospital staff to detect (and prevent) incidents quickly. The real-time nature of this type of patient tracking allows staff to address issues instantly, for example, any abrupt change in patient location automatically alerts monitoring staff to the change detected in that patient’s behavior. Nurses or providers near the site can immediately check in on the patient and help as needed.
RTLS systems can also help in the event of an emergency. If a floor or entire building must be evacuated, RTLS software ensures an accurate location check and headcount of every patient in the system. No patient will be left behind when a hospital takes advantage of patient tracking using RTLS.
RTLS data can even be used to mitigate incidents or damages in the future. IT teams can evaluate recorded hazards –– for instance, track patient fall locations –– and take steps to increase safety measures with RTLS data.
Hospitals are continuously working to find ways to improve safety and thereby reduce losses related to accidents and lawsuits. Patient tracking using RTLS empowers hospitals to evaluate and bolster safety standards, reducing injury and improving patient outcomes.
The Financial Benefits of RTLS Tracking: Enhancing Workflows and Reducing Spending
Hospital teams are constantly striving toward greater efficiency, especially as many healthcare systems feel the burden of staff shortages and lack of resources. The national labor shortage within hospitals is severe and widespread. RTLS can help overcome some problems that arise from staffing shortages.
RTLS asset tracking promotes optimized workflows within hospitals. When patient information is located on a central database and linked to their location, hospital teams can have a complete picture of their workloads, allowing them to adjust workflows accordingly.
Patient tracking also allows teams to predict patient flow and create long-term, system-wide plans that promote efficiency. RTLS tracking empowers your teams to do more with less staff, saving resources and creating a more satisfactory and enjoyable work environment. The higher employee satisfaction rates are, the less likely you’ll see high turnover, which saves money in the long run.
Choosing an RTLS Partner
When choosing an RTLS asset tracking partner, finding the best organization to fit your needs is the most important step. The right RTLS vendor can set your facility up for success and can lead to savings in every area of the hospital.
Below we list the top factors to consider when looking for the right RTLS partner.
1. Have You Heard of the Vendor?
Most RTLS systems require a long-term commitment. You want to make the right choice before you jump into a partnership. When looking at a vendor, the first thing is to think if you’ve heard of them before. What things were said about them - both good and bad.
Research what other hospitals have said about their experience with the vendor’s product, services, and customer service team. Ensuring the partner you choose has a positive reputation is the first step to setting your hospital up for success.
2. What Are Your Objectives?
Before implementing RTLS patient tracking, define clear goals and reasons for doing so. By understanding your desired outcomes, you can more easily choose an RTLS vendor that can best meet your needs.
3. Shop with Scalability in Mind
Introducing and implementing a system-wide RTLS patient tracking program requires time, resources, and buy-in from all parties, from the C-suite to nursing staff. As you explore RTLS for your hospital, define both short-term and long-term goals.
You will need to prioritize the objectives and choose a vendor that can meet the immediate needs with the scalability and agility to help you achieve long-term goals.
4. Can the Vendor Provide the Latest Tech?
The ability to innovate is crucial in medicine, and it’s just as important in RTLS systems. Your asset tracking partner should be marked by innovation and commitment to updated practices and technologies.
As we’ve mentioned, implementing a full-scale tracking system will take time. Choose a vendor that can and will adapt to the fast-paced changes in both asset tracking and technology as a whole. This avoids spending a period of time to implement the chosen system, and it being outdated by the time it has been implemented facility-wide.
5. Does the Vendor Meet Your Budget?
Your goals and objectives should drive the vendor choice, but you can’t ignore the bottom line. There’s a wide range of pricing structures for RTLS systems, equipment, and installation that vary from company to company. The last step in picking an RTLS vendor is making sure their price fits into your budget. The more upfront the RTLS asset tracking company is the better, they should offer upfront costs and ROI.
Implementing RTLS Patient Tracking in Your Hospital
Patient tracking is essential in hospitals seeking greater efficiency, safety, and patient satisfaction. Effective tracking using RTLS technology allows hospitals to make the most of their resources while providing superior care.
Choosing an RTLS system is a significant commitment and a big change for many hospitals. But when you work with Altus, you can trust that our team will do everything we can to make the implementation process as easy as possible.
Altus offers an RTLS asset tracking system designed specifically for healthcare. It fits into any workflow and features an intuitive design making the implementation process easier than ever before. Connect with us to learn how RTLS from Altus can transform how you care for patients and manage your hospital’s operations.