WBB's Thought Leadership

RTLS Technology Improved Care and Reduced Risk at Hospitals

February 24

Real-time Location System (RTLS) technology has improved bed management, lowered wait times, and reduced risks of wandering patients.

Real-time patient tracking allowed faster bed turnaround, and increased patient flow, resulting in reduced waits. Reduced wandering increased patient safety and reduced risks of accidents.

Excerpt: “Technology has brought about many improvements in health care that have a positive impact on the patient experience in hospitals. Some facilities are using tracking technology originally designed for supply chain management to make a big difference in lowering wait times and improving treatment across the continuum of care. As discussed in an article from Hospitals & Health Networks, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in California decided to test whether its electronic asset-tracking system could be expanded to track patients as well.

“With its new real-time location system patient-tracking program, each patient at Sharp Chula Vista is given a numbered tag with a barcode to wear on the wrist. The tag’s scanned into the tracking system and connected to special software that receives signals to keep tabs on the patient’s location.

“The main benefit of the tracking system for Sharp Chula Vista is that it speeds up bed turnover, allowing the hospital to admit more patients efficiently. After a patient’s discharged, the tracking tag is removed and placed in a drop box that automatically notifies housekeeping to prepare the room for the next patient, instead of having to notify them manually. Cutting out that step alone has reduced the time it takes to assign newly admitted patients to a hospital room by over three hours, which has improved patient flow in the facility.

“The tracking system has other benefits as well. Patients who wander away from their hospital rooms can be quickly located, as can missing patients who are elsewhere in the hospital undergoing tests. Because of the success it’s experienced with its patient tracking system, Sharp Chula Vista plans to expand the technology to other hospitals in its health system.

“Other hospitals are using patient-tracking technology for slightly different purposes, tracking the amount of times high-risk patients enter the facility for care. According to an article in NJ Biz Hackensack Meridian Health is one of the first hospitals in New Jersey to use a program called PatientPing that’s designed to send information about patients’ hospital stays to multiple providers.”

Source: Healthcare Business & Technology

WBB Take: RTLS supports optimized patient flow, reduces risk, and improves operational visibility. One of the areas in which RTLS can be of significant value is in generating real-time patient care and movement data. The data can be process-mined to infer underlying workflow, and used for operational management and process improvement. process-mining has been used to rapidly and scalably infer workflow using Electronic Health Record (EHR) data, a persistent obstacle has been that many EHR events are not captured in real-time and are overly manual. In many clinical pathways, important steps are not captured in the EHR until after the encounter is over. For many clinicians who do much of their charting after hours, batch data capture is a feature, rather than an exception. RTLS may allow many events to be captured by the medical equipment in real time, rather than entered manually by clinicians, as is currently the case.

Machine charting through RTLS can reduce clinician burnout, increase safety, and open the way for advanced analytics and machine learning methods such as process-mining to be used for greater visibility of clinical workflow, and provide a low-cost and highly scalable way to automatically document and measure workflow.

Matthew Loxton

Matthew Loxton



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