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Best practices for real-time location systems (RTLS)

May 10, 2022
From the May 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Dave Wiedman

Healthcare technology management (HTM) professionals are constantly looking for ways to reduce costs, streamline processes and improve patient care. Especially with the proliferation of expensive, mobile medical equipment. According to a study by GE Healthcare, the average number of devices per hospital bed has increased to 15, and utilization of medical equipment averages only 42%.

Oftentimes, mobile medical devices are not where caregivers and biomeds need them. Clinicians spend an average of about half an hour per shift trying to locate mobile assets, which impacts patient care. Eventually, a hospital buys or rents more equipment than they actually need, driving up capital purchases and overall operational costs.

Fortunately, the healthcare industry is adopting new technologies to improve the tracking and management of medical equipment with real-time locations systems (RTLS). RTLS offers healthcare providers dual savings for medical devices (optimize fleet management, reduce expenses) and increased staff productivity (reduce time wasted looking for medical supplies).

A recent AAMI conference presentation featured RTLS results from eight national healthcare systems. The “go live” clinical case studies yielded $8.5M in savings. As an example, a 500-bed acute care hospital can save approximately $696K dollars and 365K staff hours annually.

‘Best Practices’ for RTLS asset management from lessons learned at successful “go live” deployments across nationally recognized healthcare systems, include the following four key topics.

Discovery of the main pain points in your hospital system
In essence, poor asset management leads to a decrease in patient care, increased operational costs, and time wasted by critical hospital staff. First things first, you can’t go at it alone when implementing an effective asset management solution at your hospital — it takes a village composed of key stakeholders committed to seeing its success and longevity.

Yet, no matter if you are a biomedical engineer, senior nurse, or the chief technical officer (CTO), it’s critical to understand the key pain points of mismanaged assets from these stakeholders’ perspectives. Asset management pain points typically involve lost or stolen equipment, increased rental costs, and decreased patient care.

Building the ‘A-Team’ steering committee and stakeholders
Empowered with knowing your key stakeholders’ pain points and armed with proven results from these case studies, you can approach your supervisor and key executive leaders with clear value propositions on the qualitative and financial benefits to an RTLS system for their respective areas.

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