Should You Replace an Old Hospital RTLS? 8 Key Questions to Ask
There’s no hard and fast definition for “technology’s end of life.” Healthcare asset tracking vendors don’t often send hospitals notes to say, “Hi, just letting you know your real-time location system (RTLS) will become obsolete as of June 1, 2023.”
Yet there are some clear signs that an aging system’s demise is near. Maybe your hospital RTLS is consistently mislocating equipment. Maybe it’s stopped working entirely because your hospital upgraded its IT systems but failed to upgrade the RTLS dependent upon it. Maybe the vendor that sold you your RTLS has been acquired by another company.
You know you need to make some kind of investment in your RTLS. The question is where to make that investment: In your current solution or a new one?
If your hospital has reached that fork in the road, use these eight questions to guide your thought process:
- Is your RTLS operating to its original specifications?
- Is the accuracy of your RTLS as good today as it was on the day it was installed?
- Do you feel confident in the quality of data your RTLS is providing?
- Has your RTLS data helped you optimize your mobile medical equipment by reducing its overall count? Does it continue to help eliminate equipment loss and theft, or your rental costs?
- In the time that you’ve had your RTLS, has your vendor launched any updates or made any investment to enhance the solution?
- Has the company that built your RTLS been sold? What commitment has the new ownership provided to continue to support your solution?
- Have you seen other RTLS solutions deliver value you’re not getting with your product—and has your vendor provided a roadmap for when it can provide those benefits?
- Is there something you need from your RTLS that you’re not getting, and is there another product that can offer it?
What you can look forward to from a new RTLS
If you’re unsatisfied with how your current RTLS is performing or concerned about its future viability based on these questions, it’s time to look at the other options available on the market. Here are some key items you should expect from a new RTLS:
High-confidence, room-level accuracy
With the older infrared, ultrasound, and Wi-Fi RTLS systems that have traditionally dominated the market, consistent room-level accuracy was virtually impossible without expensive, cumbersome, and disruptive installation (including installing hardware in every room). Technologies that harness Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning allow new RTLS solutions to provide high-confidence accuracy with less disruptive installation and lower costs than legacy RTLS solutions.
When you rely on a hospital’s IT backbone to operate your RTLS, it risks becoming inoperable anytime the hospital network goes down or undergoes maintenance. If that happens, you need to bring the vendor back in to get the RTLS back online—often at a substantial cost. Newer RTLS solutions are designed to operate on independent networks that aren’t affected whenever the hospital’s IT framework has an issue.
If you have an older RTLS, it will lose its accuracy whenever there are hospital renovations, expansions, or other physical changes to the landscape. Your vendor will likely offer to come in and remap your system—again, at a substantial cost. On the other hand, a newer RTLS solution that relies on BLE, AI, and machine learning technology can “heal itself.” The solution can learn new hospital layouts based on information the equipment tags send to the machine learning-powered RTLS “brain,” with little intervention required by the vendor.
The bottom line for hospital leaders
The table stakes for RTLS have changed in recent years. The goal isn’t to find lost equipment but to facilitate data-driven decision-making, like right-sizing your fleet via utilization metrics or streamlining your asset management by automating alerts for clean and soiled storage rooms.
If your RTLS can’t do those things now, it’s because those are functions it was never designed to serve. At the end of the day, your choice is like deciding whether to put money into an old car versus purchasing a new one. Sure, you can fix up an ancient Oldsmobile enough to drive again—but there’s no amount of money you can invest in that car to enable the same features as new, all-electric vehicles (EV) available in 2023
Cognosos RTLS is the 2023 EV in this scenario. Thanks to our proprietary LocationAI engine, our room-level-accurate solution protects against network decay and accuracy degradation. And with a lightweight footprint, the Cognosos RTLS installs easily and with a fraction of the cost and disruption of other products on the market.