When it comes to leveraging the IoT to improve efficiency, nowhere is that difference more meaningful than in healthcare. A reduction in the time to identify the cause of a symptom or to locate an important device or critical medication could literally be the difference between life and death. But in addition to supporting the best care in those critical moments, myriad IoT-enhanced improvements in healthcare are enabling better, more individually-tuned services, while saving hospitals significant money.
While wearable IoT devices continue to dominate in healthcare, another smart solution is gaining steam. Solutions built around Real-Time Locating Systems (RTLS) are enabling hospitals to increase the efficiency of care, freeing up valuable time for their patients and achieving other pertinent objectives by improving the tracking and management of assets, processes and compliance to regulatory standards.
RTLS solutions provide hospitals and other healthcare facilities with numerous advantages, including integrating and automating healthcare systems (such as EMRs), automating asset, patient and staff workflow, enhancing patient and staff safety, monitoring hand-washing compliance, collecting impartial, accurate patient data and data on care milestones, and much, much more.
A Smart Financial Move
Clients that have implemented RTLS are already experiencing real, substantial return on investment. According to IBM, users of its Versus Real-time Locating System combined with Versus Advantages™ patient-flow solutions have achieved significant efficiencies including:
- An emergency department customer that grew its volume from 60,000 to 100,000 without adding staff
- An acute bed turnaround time reduction of 75 minutes per bed per day
- A clinic that expanded exam rooms from 8 rooms to 20 without adding staff
- An asset tracking customer that reduced annual equipment loss from $1.5M to $40,000
- A user who reduced phone calls by 75 percent
- A clinic that eliminated waiting rooms and reduced registration to rooming times to just over 2 minutes
- An enterprise that decreased patient stays by 36 percent for adults admitted through the emergency department and increased cash collections by 60 percent.
Results the company says are repeatable and sustainable.
RTLS in Action
Stanford Children’s Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute are using the Versus Advantages™ Clinic, powered by RTLS, to make patient visits less stressful for both the child and parents by improving patient flow and expediting treatment.
The sprawling facility—with 20 subspecialties in its two-story, 77,000-square-foot building—makes it even more essential to efficiently locate assets, staff and patients. The clinic implemented the Versus solution in May of 2016, installing both wireless and wired RTLS sensors, which monitor patient waiting and alone times, the status of patient and staff interactions, the utilization of the hospitals rooms and more.
Patients often have several appointments with different providers, and RTLS is crucial to ensuring the entire care team has visibility into the patient treatment and visit. IoT-connected, automated white boards display patients’ appointment times in addition to their current location (patients are given locating badges on arrival), wait time, alone time and overall length of stay. Since the providers and staff also wear the locating badges, the white boards automatically track who the patients has already seen, such as technicians or medical assistants, keeping the team ready for the next step of care. These workflow cues improve caregivers’ productivity, helping them manage their time much more effectively.
IoT for the Win
The promise of IoT is far reaching. IoT has the ability to increase patient safety and reduce liability while improving patient treatment—and satisfaction. For the staff and facility, IoT can optimize efficiency and productivity, eliminate expensive search and find procedures, simplify regulatory compliance and more. The healthcare industry is full of opportunities for solution providers that understand IoT-enabled RTLS.