The power of IoT location technology in hospitals

Illustration: © IoT for everyone

Staff shortages are a top concern as the healthcare industry continues to emerge from the crisis phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ongoing turnover rate for registered nurses has already increased by eight percent in the past year, and a recent survey found that 32 percent of nurses are currently considering leaving their jobs due to burnout and workplace violence. . This level of turnover increases stress on other staff, lowers morale, and forces hospitals to limit patient care. With the average age of nurses currently sitting at 57, this shortage is projected to increase. Lightening the workload of nurses, specifically around non-clinical tasks, and equipping teams with the most advanced tools is critical to improving the patient care process and increasing employee satisfaction. Healthcare decision makers should consider new IoT solutions and location technology in hospitals to provide necessary support, streamline clinical workflow, and provide continuous business visibility to benefit staff and patient care.

“Lightening the workload for nurses, specifically around non-clinical tasks, and equipping teams with the most advanced tools is critical to improving the patient care process and increasing employee satisfaction.”


The impact of IoT on healthcare

Equip healthcare professionals with business visibility to see all the moving pieces in a healthcare facility—the patient journey, equipment status, staff updates, and how each has interacted with each other. ensures that daily operations run smoothly by providing reliable and actionable information in real time. This visibility is achieved through IoT-enabled location technology, badges and labels in hospitals. With the successful implementation of smart technology, a healthcare system can reduce annual costs, better support healthcare professionals, and help meet rising patient expectations. Healthcare teams should work smarter, not harder.

The use of the Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare has evolved at an incredible rate and now offers business solutions for the industry. While real-time location systems (RTLS) previously provided approximate location details, today’s healthcare facilities can use advanced IoT-enabled badges and labels to obtain real-time information for the precise locations of assets, patients, and staff. .

Advances in AI, machine learning (ML), and IoT through robotic process and intelligent automation are improving data insights provided by systems such as real-time location systems (RTLS), which in turn help facilities to better understand process optimization for greater efficiency and patient care. Healthcare facilities around the world are leveraging these technologies to build smart hospitals of the future and improve the patient and staff experience.

IoT for clinical workflow

When an RTLS solution is implemented correctly, it allows healthcare organizations to analyze data to find opportunities to optimize resources, such as leveraging insights to properly staff departments according to the busiest times of the day. Healthcare professionals need access to platforms that automate workflow to ease the burden of manual documentation, which takes time away from patient care and can be affected by human error.

To advance healthcare and shift to smart solutions, Texas Health Resources (THR) leveraged an existing construction project to create a next-generation wireless system that offered RTLS for workflow automation. This decision automated non-value-added tasks and provided insights into operations improvements. With a custom algorithm to prioritize all tasks related to patient care, patient transport, patient flow, and capacity management, efficiency was increased by allocating 100% of staff resources to critical operations during operations. peak hours and off-peak administrative tasks. Through these actions, THR reported $1 million in savings in the first year and achieved more than 90 percent in both patient satisfaction and employee engagement.

Using IoT-enabled credentials assigned at patient registration, advanced workflow platforms can make a big impact by delivering proactive status updates, estimated wait times, familiar text message alerts, and views of the patient. staff on display boards that provide user-friendly information. read each patient’s journey layout. For example, as patients leave Florida Eye Specialists operating rooms and move to recovery areas, staff can see the change in real time and begin preparing the operating room for the next patient. This ensures teams are on the same page with up-to-date visibility to continuously measure interactions and address bottlenecks.

IoT for asset management

One-third of nurses report spending at least an hour during an average shift searching for equipment, taking away valuable patient care. This is where asset tracking comes into play. Leveraging IoT-enabled smart tags, RTLS delivers real-time ward and bay level map views, lists medical equipment locations and detailed equipment usage, and provides alerts for maintenance and cleaning of the teams. Once asset management tags are placed on the necessary equipment, personnel can review the precise location of the equipment in seconds.

Having all mobile medical equipment in stock, clean and available in the right place is critical to providing timely and safe care. Automating inventory management at the Periodic Automatic Replenishment (PAR) level can help ensure that there is always enough inventory on hand. By automatically monitoring PAR levels, managers can accurately gauge inventory utilization, reducing staff stressors as ongoing supply chain challenges affect healthcare facilities.

By acquiring other hospitals, Piedmont Healthcare made a strategic decision to standardize its IoT-enabled enterprise location services and streamline asset management processes across its facilities. This decision resulted in annual savings of more than $500,000, a 78 percent decrease in rental expenses, and a 48 percent increase in staff satisfaction. The asset management tool effectively solved their equipment distribution and maintenance challenges, eliminating patient wait time for critical equipment needed for care and decreasing the time nurses spend searching for equipment.

IoT for staff and patient safety

As healthcare workers continue to provide critical care to their communities, they are also facing increased workplace violence that has increased since the start of the pandemic. National Nurses United recently reported that 48 percent of nurses have faced increased violence since the start of COVID-19, and healthcare workers are four times more likely than any other industry to lose work time due to violence-related injuries.

An RTLS leveraging IoT-enabled location technology badges can better protect and support staff members through cost-effective mobile enforcement solutions in hospitals. When directly integrated with staff badges, a subtle button click on the badge discreetly triggers a real-time duress notification that shares the precise location of the staff member. This ensures that security personnel can help as quickly as possible. Real-time map views, immediate alerts, and location updates create a safe environment for staff, enhancing a culture of safety and peace of mind.

Previously, a North Carolina hospital, which used wired and mounted panic buttons located throughout its campus, knew it needed a solution that provided enterprise-grade coverage to enable security to respond to the exact point of need. The healthcare system immediately turned to a full end-to-end RTLS implementation with IoT-enabled badges. By selecting the location system, staff can now send alerts immediately when they are in a vulnerable position, instead of waiting until an incident occurs and they can locate a wired button. With location technology, incidents are resolved faster or can be reduced and avoided altogether.

Looking to the future

As IoT and location technology continue to progress in healthcare and hospitals, the industry as a whole is seeing significant improvements both clinically and operationally within facilities that take advantage of the offerings. Choosing an RTLS partner with a full suite of intelligent solutions improves the scalability of the technology, making it easy to expand across the business over time and further improve operations. For many healthcare leaders, workforce enforcement or asset management is just the beginning of their digital transformation with real-time location systems.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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