Hospital staff using Cognosos

3 Reasons to Take a Fresh Look at Hospital RTLS

The early failures of hospital real-time location services (RTLS) have stuck around in the minds of hospital leadership for many years. In fact, most healthcare facilities today have no RTLS platform at all because first-generation systems from a decade ago where too clunky, cumbersome and wholly disruptive on the care continuum.

Furthermore, the inability to demonstrate a financial return following a difficult and costly infrastructure commitment delivered a negative message about RTLS, and the appeal of asset tracking to help hospitals effectively manage their inventories lost its luster.

But the good news is that a lot has changed in 10 years. The legacy systems, bulky and problematic, are being challenged by the new breed of lightweight wireless solutions.

In this post, we’re unpacking some of the most common lingering misconceptions surrounding hospital RTLS and providing 3 solid reasons why next-gen RTLS technology can support hospitals in saving time, money and resources.

Reason #1: RTLS setup doesn’t have to be a large IT project

Despite what you’ve heard, RTLS does not need to deeply involve your resource-strapped IT team who likely have other major infrastructure projects to worry about. With modern RTLS, the onus is off IT, thanks to the lean, wireless nature of Bluetooth-enabled tracking.

Only a fraction of the technical resources and time are required to set up today’s RTLS. Each floor requires only two cabled devices that require power and an internet connection, providing room-level asset tracking capabilities with a dedicated backhaul. No longer needed are legacy 10 to 15 cable drops over every floor, with management support on top of that.

With these advances, what was once a multiple months-long project to install becomes a dependable system that’s online within weeks, saving time, effort, and ultimately money too.

Reason #2: Yes, you can actually measure the financial ROI of RTLS

We commonly hear how the ROI of RTLS is measured in soft financial terms, such as improvements in staff satisfaction or other indicators like the amount of time saved or burnout averted, but not expressed in actual hard dollars and cents. This is often a symptom of a legacy system’s inability to provide accurate, room by room tracking and location histories.

The new generation of RTLS delivers on the promise of clinical accuracy for a fair price, enabling vastly improved visibility to inform asset purchasing, management practices, loss prevention and reduced rental expenditure.

For example, consider that American hospitals lose millions of dollars each and every year because of stolen, lost, and misplaced equipment. These financial losses could be significantly reduced with the implementation of a room-level accurate RTLS solution.

In addition, many hospitals turn to rentals when they perceive a shortage of equipment, yet most hospitals have more than enough equipment; they only lack the ability to find it.

In fact, the average US hospital has about 25% more mobile devices than they can actually use based on patient volume and case mix. With the right asset tracking system, perceived shortages become a thing of the past because you know exactly where equipment is located at any given time. No need to rent or even consider buying something new.

Overall, RTLS that provides room level, facility-wide coverage offers location data and historical movement patterns that provide a wealth of information to inform procurement, processes, and management decisions.

Reason #3: RTLS installation will not interrupt patient care

With the legacy tracking systems, installing RTLS would amount to a disruptive construction project — shutting down patient rooms and impacting clinical workflows as installers move ceiling tiles or drill into walls. In addition to being disruptive to operations, they may also require dust abatement and other OSHA considerations, adding extra costs on top of already expensive contracts.

The installation of a cable drop turns a revenue-generating room into a construction site, and even if only for a day, negatively impacts the true financial implications of installing an RTLS system.

With the right Bluetooth-enabled RTLS, no devices need to be placed in patient rooms, and no cables need to be dropped — anywhere. This means that patient care remains unaffected and ceiling tiles stay put.

The difference in the level of disruption and overall benefits that wireless RTLS technologies bring to hospital operations is huge — and can ultimately save the organization time and money.

Learn more about the prevailing RTLS myths

As we’ve seen, there are many myths, misconceptions, and misunderstandings about the true value of RTLS and how it works.

If you’re curious to learn more and truly see how modern RTLS can help hospitals save time, money, and resources, then download our eBook “5 Myths About Hospital RTLS That Cost, Time, Money, and Resources” now.

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