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Real Time Locating Systems on Track in Hospitals

July 27, 2011
From the July 2011 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Getting smart: RTLS-enabled smart rooms
One of the more advanced applications of RTLS is being seen in “smart rooms” —technology enabled work areas, usually in inpatient nursing units, which are designed to organize and prioritize work for nurses and other providers. The University of Pittsburg Medical Center and IBM partnered to create the first smart rooms. The work areas, which rely upon ultrasound-based RTLS, use small ultrasound tags. The tags then make it possible for the smart room system to identify health care workers entering a patient room. Upon identifying the staff member, a series of programmed events occurs. Patient information is then displayed on wall mounted monitors based on the need-to-know requirements of the identified staff member. The display provides information such as recent and current vital signs, care plan data, allergies, drugs prescribed and scheduled times to administer them. All this information is provided in real time and all the staff member simply needs to enter the room to get all this information immediately, without needing to dig through charts.

Ultrasound tags on any other health care worker entering the patient’s room would initiate a different set of smart room actions, depending upon their clearance level. For instance, a case worker would automatically receive information about a patient’s expected discharge from the hospital and contact information for family members, whereas tagged food service personnel would receive information specific to dietary orders, food allergies and patient preferences upon entering a room. All of this RTLS-enabled functionality has the potential to improve the way hospitals work and how patients are cared for, bringing greater efficiencies to the health care system and ultimately, paying for itself through the savings increased efficiency delivers.

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