News Feature | January 31, 2014

RTLS Saving Healthcare System Thousands

Source: Health IT Outcomes
Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

HITO RTLS

Texas Health Alliance is utilizing RTLS and saving thousands, as well as preventing infections and increasing patient satisfaction

According to Kathi Cox, a project coordinator at Texas Health Resources, RFID has saved the system thousands of dollars - including $65,000 in rental fees monthly. Healthcare Finance News says the radio frequency ID tags on the badges of staff and wristbands of patients are not only saving money, but are increasing care and improving patient satisfaction as well.

“By controlling budget, sharing rather than duplicating resources, improving patient services and staff performance, mobile technologies like RFID give healthcare providers the opportunity to emulate the most successful of private industry’s enterprise-level companies,” reports Healthcare Finance News.

Texas Health Resources’ rental fee savings are detailed as well. “All rental equipment is tagged. When a nurse rolls the equipment out of a patient’s room he or she presses a button that sends an alert to the rental company to pick up the item,” notes Healthcare Finance News. “In addition, thanks to a real-time location system, the driver from the rental company will know exactly where to find the equipment. Running behind the CenTrak Gen2IR active RFID tags and readers are the software brains. Intelligent InSites software manages the collected location data. Now hospital equipment is tracked and reallocated to other departments when the need arises. In the future, Texas Health intends to use this technology to share resources across all facilities. Other RFID applications at Texas Health include automating the discharge process, locating patients when visitors arrive and identifying staff members exposed to an infectious patient.”

Winjie Tang Miao, president, Texas Health Alliance, says patient satisfaction is growing because the system frees staff from other tasks. RFID Journal reports, according to Miao, “The solution's greatest benefit is that is helps workers locate assets quickly, thereby enabling them to spend more time serving patients. In addition, the patient-tracking function makes it possible to automate the discharge process, as well as find patients for friends and family, while the personnel-tracking capability enables the system to identify which staff members have been within the vicinity of an infectious patient.”

Texas Health Alliance's IT department is still working with Intelligent InSites to identify other ways in which the RTLS data could be used, Miao says. One concept they are looking in to is if the technology could be used is to ensure that patient requests are met. For example, if a patient asks for a pillow or blanket, a nurse could input a request in the nurse call system. The RTLS solution could then track how quickly the nurse returned to that patient's room and even send out a reminder if she were to be distracted by a more urgent request.

Miao states, "Our greatest benefit, in my opinion, is the way we are using the tool to automate non-value-added tasks, [such as] keeping real-time PAR values on highly utilized patient equipment and having alerts sent when that PAR has been compromised so it can be dealt with. If you look at patient satisfaction, our scores are very high. I think part of the reason is we have great nurses and great staff, but I also think the nurses aren't running around searching for stuff, and therefore, they're free to be at the patient's bedside."

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