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Barcoding/RFID/RTLS/Asset Tracking

Is RTLS a tipping- point technology?

Boost in efficiency gained by real-time capacity management provides significant ROI, better patient care. By Jon Poshywak


f your hospital is considering a real-time locating sys- tem (RTLS), there are plenty of reasonable options available today. That is, if the goal is simply to keep track of assets.

A number of vendors have jumped into this sector because it is easy to show a quick return on an asset-tracking invest- ment and therefore relatively easy to sell. However, potential purchasers should be aware that

some RTLS systems can offer a much larger return for their hospitals because they can be integrated with two other technologies: patient flow automation and automated busi- ness intelligence. This convergence creates an enterprise-wide platform known as a capacity-management system, which has the potential to create a tipping point in healthcare.

A true enterprise

Equipment tagging saves tracking time and inventory costs in the range of $1 million per year.

16 August 2012

capacity-management system delivers a con- tinuously updated, moment-by-moment picture of a hospital’s physical operations as they occur, including the status and location of patients, beds, staff and assets. Dashboards accessible to all ex- ecutives and managers provide alerts when operational tasks are being executed within standard best-practice parameters and critical information on the root cause of problems. This gives hospital leaders more control over the physical environment, allowing them to pro- duce additional capac- ity from existing space, reduce wait times sys-

tem wide, speed patient transfers from other hospitals and reduce or eliminate diversions.

The platform also produces an extensive amount of data, collected and distributed in real time, that can project staff- to-volume planning needs, continually measure performance and identify potential process problems before they occur so that corrections can be applied.

Jon Poshywak is managing director, RTLS workflow service, at TeleTracking Technologies Inc. For more on TeleTracking Technologies:

The boost in efficiency gained by real-time capacity management provides signifi- cant ROI, better patient care and increased revenue genera- tion.

Buyers taking a more ho- listic view of RTLS should research their options before

investing in a system that may already be outdated. RTLS is becoming the cornerstone of a digital nervous system that will increasingly automate healthcare delivery and provide instant feedback on procedures, admissions, discharges, room availability and assignments, asset inventory and location, emerging trends in referral patterns and even new marketing opportunities.

But to get these capabilities, buyers must choose an RTLS platform that integrates all the major components of patient throughput.

Potential impact

The ROI benefits to capacity management are significant, as a pro forma analysis can show. The average annual impact, based upon a five-year projection, typically averages more than $10 million. The chart outlines key margin impact indicators.

Proven results

The following examples are from hospitals that have translated better capacity management into better service and financial gains. In many cases, the hospitals centralized their capacity-management function and integrated it with an au- tomated transfer center in order to realize the greatest gains. This allows closer monitoring of capacity to make room for transfers who might otherwise be diverted to other hospitals.


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