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Innovation Clinical-Grade Visibility
What is Clinical-Grade Visibility™?
Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) increase workflow efficiencies in healthcare facilities to reduce costs and improve patient care, but they are not all the same. Knowing what zone, what room or what square foot an item is in saves time and improves the likelihood of an effective outcome for the patient. When seconds count, knowing your critical resources are somewhere in the area does not help. Knowing the exact location is what will make the difference in the quality of care that is delivered.
Location Accuracy of Critical Resources
Estimated, RF-Only Locating
Estimated location of critical resources
CenTrak’s Clinical-Grade Visibility
Certainty-based locating of critical resources
CenTrak’s Clinical-Grade Visibility Technology include these key features of the most accurate locating system for hospitals:
Location accuracy — Most RTLS systems breakdown the facility by estimated zones to locate assets. However, the ability to define the clinical area based on the healthcare facility’s specific requirements is one thing that makes a visibility system more accurate. Knowing the supplies are on a particular floor or unit as opposed to knowing which room or even which shelf they are on is an important point of accuracy.
The capacity of segmenting space into appropriate zones is how CenTrak provides accurate location visibility. Zones such as nursing stations, beds, patient rooms, bays and hallways are clinically significant, and therefore, most useful for medical applications.
Update Speed — An accurate location is only useful if it is delivered in time. Items and people can move quickly in a hospital, which is why CenTrak’s platform updates accordingly. For certain pieces of equipment, update speed might not matter since they do not move often. In this case, update rates are customizable to optimize tag battery life.
CenTrak makes it possible to capture equipment, patient and staff interactions by delivering condition and location updates rapidly. Within seconds clinical milestones are collected.
Reliability —Low batteries and hardware failures can disrupt the flow of work and operations for the entire facility. CenTrak delivers critical condition, location and status updates to your chosen software application. Complete visibility is possible at-a-glance due to enterprise-level devices and tags equipped with long-lasting batteries.
With CenTrak’s Real-Time Global Monitoring System (GMS), healthcare facilities are notified when batteries are running low to ensure proper maintenance and prevent lost assets.
Condition Monitoring — Supplies that require strict temperature or humidity control need extra attention in storage and during transportation. Collecting environmental conditions data on these items is critical to ensuring they are still safe and viable when used. In addition to location, this vital information needs to be recorded and available to the appropriate personnel to aid with compliance regulations.
Installation —Systems that require extensive hardwiring are costly and time-consuming to install. Meanwhile, battery-powered devices are installed easily in patient care areas without the need to close rooms or deploy special infection prevention measures.
CenTrak’s wireless infrastructure has resilient batteries that are easy to change in the field, providing enterprise-class monitoring and visibility to healthcare facilities.
Interoperability — Integrating with other systems is a big benefit to a location technology platform. Healthcare facilities are full of independent systems operating in specific departments or across the entire facility. The best RTLS systems work with existing hardware and software making it easier to parse together all of the data needed to make decisions.
CenTrak integrates easily with over 130 healthcare applications including Nurse Call, Electronic Medical Records, Computerized Maintenance Management, and other security and access control systems your facility may already have in place, such as card access, video surveillance, public address systems and pagers.
Real-Time Locating Systems
The goal of real time locating systems (RTLS) in a hospital setting is to keep track of patients, clinicians and equipment. Modern healthcare includes a lot of equipment which means a big investment in acquisition and maintenance. The ability to track each investment gives practitioners the opportunity to maximize their benefit.
Some of the benefits of equipment tracking include:
- Increase staff satisfaction by reducing wasted time spent searching for equipment.
- Automate PAR-level management to ensure equipment is available when needed while reducing excessive rental expenses.
- Improve clinical workflow to enhance the patient experience through a reduction in wait times.
- Reduce inventory shrinkage by preventing theft and hoarding.
- Prevent the spread of infection through contact tracing which provides insightful data on asset interactions with patients, staff and other equipment.
- Improve maintenance procedures by access information in real-time about the condition and location of each piece of equipment.
Clinical-Grade Visibility Solutions have broader applications than just tracking equipment; they can be applied to patients, personnel and supplies as well. Keeping track of all of the moving parts in a healthcare facility can be directly correlated to improving patient safety and reducing costs.
Recording patients’ movements around the facility and interactions with providers, other patients and equipment can help reduce the spread of infectious disease. As soon as an infectious disease is detected, the infected patient can be immediately located and quarantined. Also, all recent contacts can be tracked down quickly for testing and to be sure they do not continue to circulate the infection.
Patient wait times and staff emergency response times can be reduced by personnel tracking. Knowing where the nearest provider is with the required expertise can significantly improve clinical workflow. It also helps improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.
Here are some other healthcare applications for RTLS as identified by a National Institutes of Health study:
- Healthcare facilities can utilize RTLS technology to ensure the safety of certain high-risk patients by tracking the physical movements of patients who are prone to wander due to Alzheimer’s or dementia. CenTrak Guardian™ can also trigger locking systems on doors when a patient moves near an unsafe or restricted area.
- In addition to patient safety, staff safety is also a priority for healthcare facilities that can be improved utilizing RTLS. With a real-time location enabled badge, nurses and other staff are provided a means to request emergency assistance during crisis situations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in healthcare and social assistance settings are five times more likely to be victims of nonfatal assaults or violent acts than the average worker in all other occupations. Using the button press on the wireless tag provides additional security and improves staff satisfaction.
- RTLS can help administrators track and document the amount of care each patient receives. By setting up the patient and healthcare worker’s badges to recognize each other, they can create a database of days and times when each staff member was in the same room with or in closer proximity to a patient. This information could be used to automatically update electronic medical records and billing.
- RTLS helps ensure compliance with hand hygiene protocols in hospitals and residential healthcare facilities. The system helps monitor staff hand sanitization procedures and collects data on all compliance and non-compliance events. The purpose of the system is not to single out individuals who do not follow protocol. It is instead to discover instances where additional education is necessary.
- RTLS can also aid in improving the productivity of nurses and other staff. Many of the important, but repetitive tasks healthcare employees must complete become bothersome. RTLS helps improve staff satisfaction by increasing the efficiency of these tasks with features such as nurse call automation and the automatic documentation of rounding compliance.
- RTLS can help diagnose institutional issues with respect to patient flow. It can highlight excessive wait times for patients or areas of bottlenecks. With this information, appropriate solutions can be devised. The facility can be re-arranged, for instance, to better accommodate the flow of patients to certain equipment. Even staff shortages in certain departments can be identified using RTLS data.
- RTLS can reduce wait times for patients by finding staff quickly. Many hospitals have long hallways, or areas they cannot see from the nurse station. Having visibility to staff location on a PC or nurse master saves a lot of time walking up and down and looking for each other (or for equipment if asset tracking is also implemented). It can also be very helpful for physicians to locate the care team for the patient they are going to see, which improves the overall workflow. If you can save nurses from unnecessary wasted time and steps, you allow them to practice at the top of their license and have more time at the bedside.
- RTLS can also save time between patient discharge and room cleaning, preparing for another patient as quickly as possible and being sure proper sanitary protocols are being followed.
By serving all of these functions, the smarter RTLS can improve patient satisfaction ratings and improve a facility’s reputation. RTLS is as much of a healthcare tool as it is an accounting tool. It helps find inefficiencies in the facility so that changes can be made.
Most Accurate Locating Technology
When choosing a locating system for healthcare applications, certain considerations are prudent:
- Is the vendor financially stable? Most RTLS systems are a long-term commitment. They require purchasing hardware and training to be sure to maximize capabilities. It is a good idea to purchase from a vendor who will be in business for a long time, updating and servicing the infrastructure along the way.
- What are the key objectives? Ascertain clear medical and business objectives for implementing an RTLS system. The only way to find the right system and assess its success is to know what outcomes are desired. Different goals will necessitate various system capabilities.
- What are the long-term goals? Be prepared to phase in a complete system by prioritizing goals. Accommodate the immediate needs first, but use components that can be scalable to reach long-term goals.
- What is the compatibility with existing systems in the facility? Staff won’t want to wear multiple badges or have to keep track of which interface provides access to what data. Layering technical systems within the building when they have overlapping functions is not practical. The new system you choose should either replace or integrate with existing technology.
- What is the latest technology? Just like in the medical field, technology is changing constantly with regard to locating systems. A full-scale visibility solution that covers the whole facility and performs multiple tasks will take time to implement. If it is based on aging technology, the system will be obsolete by the time the phase in is completed. Choose an innovative company that can adapt quickly to the technology landscape.
- What does it cost? There is a wide range of pricing structures on RTLS systems. For example, CenTrak’s RTLS system does not need to be hard-wired for installation, like many other systems on the market. Having to hard-wire a system during installation can drive costs up significantly due to the amount of time and work it takes to integrate the system properly.
Just as GPS has impacted travel, RTLS is changing the way healthcare facilities operate. With a smarter RTLS installed, any healthcare facility can operate more efficiently for better patient outcomes and a stronger financial future.
Locating System Best Practices
Choosing and installing an RTLS in a healthcare facility is an important investment. Every facility has its unique array of pain points, and no individual RTLS solution is likely to address each of them with equal effectiveness and efficiency. When done right, it will improve patient safety, care and satisfaction. Ideally, the RTLS solution should not only meet the requirements for the current problem, but be flexible enough to grow from simple location tracking to contextual awareness. With this in mind, CenTrak recommends following these steps to consider when implementing a real-time location system:
- Develop a committee within your healthcare facility that will help manage the process of implementing the RTLS technology. Many departments will play a role in managing as well as enjoying some of the benefits of the system once it is deployed, so it is important to have buy-in from all stakeholders. As this group becomes an expert with the system, they will be able to use their knowledge to evaluate new RTLS opportunities and maximize the facility’s investment.
- Agree upon specifications. Ensure that there is a common understanding and definition of various accuracy levels (room-, bed-, bay-, chair-level) and update latency requirements. Also make certain that all battery life expectations are clearly documented with detailed assumptions related to the activity-level for each tag and infrastructure update speeds.
- Next, create a formal planning and assessment process that is unique to your facility. Having a formal process in place helps to prioritize the most valuable applications as well as minimize any unexpected interruptions down the road.
- Align the activity and goals of the RTLS with the principles of your facility. By categorizing your goals and initiatives with the system, it becomes easier to assess system effectiveness and identify improvement opportunities.
- Focus on integration and scalability. Examine the capabilities of the technologies currently owned and expose gaps that may require the acquisition of niche RTLS application functionality. Project the number of tags in future states and ensure that the recommended architecture will be capable of supporting the targeted use cases well into the future.
- Thoroughly explain the importance of the system to patients, staff, and their family members. It is easy for involved parties to feel as though their privacy is being compromised if they do not fully understand the value of the system first. Taking the time to answer questions and explain the value of the technology will help ensure buy-in from all involved.
- Test small roll-outs in one or two departments before rolling out the system on a facility-wide scale. This will help ensure that any hiccups are alleviated quickly and do not impact the entire facility.
Getting the right system with the necessary capabilities, involving all factions in the decision-making process and planning a phased roll-out are all keys to successful RTLS implementation. For more guidance on selecting an RTLS provider, download a free RTLS RFP template