The Most Important Question Your Hospital Should Ask About RTLS Installation

It’s no secret that highly accurate real-time location systems (RTLS) have historically come with hefty installation price tags that significantly delay the systems’ return on investment. But is choosing a comparatively inexpensive, quick-to-install RTLS really a better option? The decision is more challenging than it seems at first blush. 

To make the right choice for your hospital, start with a different question: What do you want from your RTLS? If your answer is simply, “Find my equipment,” then some of the inexpensive, quick-to-install RTLS technologies like Wi-Fi or typical Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) solutions may fit the bill. After all, some visibility into your equipment fleet is better than no visibility at all.

RTLS ROI isn’t just about finding equipment 

It’s a common misconception but RTLS’ true return on investment doesn’t come from locating individual pieces of equipment. It comes from facilitating automation and producing utilization data that can inform critical business decisions for your hospital. 

Those tasks can be achieved only through room-level accuracy. Unfortunately, this is where most inexpensive-to-install systems fall short of the mark. 

Systems that run on Wi-Fi or traditional BLE technology operate much like a pair of wireless earbuds operates with your cell phone. When both the RTLS beacon and equipment tag are in close proximity, they make a 1:1 connection. But “close proximity” is a relative term. Say you’re wearing your earbuds while folding laundry in your second-floor bedroom while your phone is in your first-floor kitchen. The items could still pair up—even though they’re levels and rooms apart. The same situation occurs in Wi-Fi or a typical BLE RTLS. A system’s beacons will pick up the signals of your equipment’s tags when it senses they’re nearby. But because the beacon’s range can be quite wide and tags’ signals can pass through doors and walls, it’s possible—perhaps even probable—that the system will mislocate a tag, saying it’s in one room when it’s actually in another. 

That can be a big problem in hospitals, when rooms with vastly different purposes—such as clean and soiled equipment storage rooms—often sit right beside each other. The low accuracy of a Wi-Fi or BLE RTLS erodes the quality of the system’s data. That, in turn, can lead to mistrust in that data. 

For example, imagine your staff frequently receives alerts from your Wi-Fi RTLS that a soiled equipment room is full and needs to be emptied. Yet each time they arrive, they find the room empty, while the *clean* equipment room just next door is full. This creates a “boy who cried wolf” situation; and staff may stop responding due to alert fatigue. 

In short, although easy-to-install Wi-Fi and a typical BLE RTLS are inexpensive in the short-term, they simply cannot provide the kind of rich data that delivers ROI over the long-term like an expensive, infrastructure-heavy infrared or ultrasound system can. 

A third hospital RTLS option worth considering

Cognosos’ ultra-lightweight RTLS solution avoids the expense and hassle of a hardware-heavy installation but uses sophisticated location algorithms that allow the system to generate accurate, high-quality data and a measurable ROI from day one. 

Using LocationAITM , a proprietary cloud-based, machine learning engine, Cognosos can provide room-level accuracy with higher confidence and a significantly lighter footprint than any competitor on the market. The result? Your hospital receives unparalleled and reliable insight into what your equipment fleet is doing at any given time, as well as over time. Some examples:

  • You know the exact count of items you have in each clean equipment room, so you can receive an automated and timely alert  when equipment  needs to be replenished by your staff. 
  • You can see the areas where equipment is bottlenecking in the cleaning cycle so you can implement process improvements that accelerate the cycle and utilization.
  • You can set alerts for your trash and soiled linen holding rooms so that if and when equipment is mistakenly thrown away, it can be recovered before it leaves the premises.

Each of these tasks—and more—delivered with accuracy and confidence, can lead to significant cost savings that will boost your hospital’s bottom line, and they’re only possible through Cognosos’ unique combination of affordable installation and industry-leading accuracy.

To learn more about LocationAI, the proprietary cloud-based technology that allows Cognosos to provide the best of both worlds for hospitals just like yours, download our white paper. 

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