5 min

Photo credits: by tungnguyen0905

Hospitals have always struggled to balance providing patients the best care and dealing with limited resources. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, hospitals saw a massive shift in that balancing act. Suddenly, they were overwhelmed with patients carrying a deadly virus to the most vulnerable members of the population, which was also unknown and new to the scientific community.  

Due to this, efficient and accurate patient flow control has become more critical than ever, putting extra pressure on staff in the process. Besides this, real-time location services are one way that hospital management can reduce staff work. They also improve patient flow and health outcomes when contact tracing becomes vital. Let's find out how real-time location services empower hospitals, like people tracking, benefits on waiting rooms, and tracking assets.

People and asset tracking

Photo Credits: by National Cancer Institute

By tracking patient flow, the idea consists of attaching a tracker to a patient wristband that will give those in charge of a given patient's care real-time information about the patient's location and health status. Further, when attached to the staff badges, this becomes an even more significant benefit due to the ability to track interactions between people and services that give healthcare organizations immediate contact tracing. Besides, this also allows them to see exposure risks in real-time. 

But what are the benefits? Some advantages include only authorized personnel who can access the software with the data about their patients and their conditions.

Real-time and centralized information about every patient in the hospital makes it easier for staff to communicate about patient status. It is also possible for providers to see all patients in the hospital or a given section. They will know which patients are waiting for care, how long they've been waiting, and their condition. Using this information, hospital staff can reduce wait times in hospital and waiting rooms.

During a health crisis like the global pandemic that we have been experiencing in the last two years, it can be a huge benefit to patients' emotional well-being. It also increases the risk of exposure to contamination, which usually negatively impacts health outcomes. Also,  reducing wait times helps the location services mitigate the spread of infectious diseases. Every minute spent waiting in a room full of patients with a particularly contagious virus on the loose can be really stressful for some patients and even the medical staff.

This can be challenging for hospital staff to keep a vigilant eye over every patient at all times. A thing that may also help this gap is a location-aware patient wristband that can alert staff when a patient goes outside a marked area, making it easier to care for patients needing extra attention.

When emergencies start to get flooded due to an infectious disease outbreak, the importance of these additional benefits, like adding tracking tags on assets, are vital. Hospitals and other health services facilities often can't find the assets needed at the proper time, causing additional stress to overworked staff. Aids like beds, stretchers, wheelchairs, and other necessary items get moved around a lot. So, location tags make this process much easier because they remove the lost time in searching for where the equipment is located. By reducing this time, the hospital can focus on what matters, improving patient flow, reducing the workload on staff, and making managing inventory much more effortless. 

Benefits of waiting rooms

Photo Credits: by Greg Rosenke

In the waiting rooms, this solution - real-time location - helps to lead to a promising technological innovation that eventually helps eliminate or reduce many circumstances. Another benefit is the location tracking pinpoints for each patient in a room. This solution allows patients without wristbands to find a space while simultaneously opening up the area generally used as a waiting area for more rooms and patient capacity. 

Moreover, hospital staff wearing a location-tracked badge provides non-patient-related benefits. They will quickly see which providers have had contact or are currently attending to a specific patient. These staff will also be easier to track when needed, and respond to an emergency medical situation can be informed for more rapid responses to life-threatening circumstances. 

These situations that aren't uncommon in hospitals can quickly get out of hand. Many times security has to be able to locate the member of staff calling for help immediately. With a location-aware badge, it is possible to know when someone enters the building and even use them to automate time-keeping for hourly employees.

Using Metadata

Photo Credits: by National Cancer Institute

Whether or not the equipment used to transport patients is currently in use is critical for clinicians to understand the Periodic Automatic Replacement (PAR) level. The same metadata that lets staff know they can use a patient's status can also be used for medical devices. It allows the team to instantly find equipment and find one that's free for use.

Many substances used by healthcare facilities, such as COVID-19 vaccines, must be kept at a specific temperature to remain viable. Unique tags have sensors that can report on external factors such as temperature. When placed inside a freezer, these devices become potentially life-saving monitors. They will alert staff if the temperature climbs above (or falls below) a certain point. Not only are they tracking the equipment in use, but they are helping to extend its usefulness and further improve health outcomes.

The tags can be brought into the software to make sense for the application. Further, all notifications can be sent based on the data returned. Calculations can perform on the individual data or the data in aggregate. The BLE beacons and tags essentially become a robust data collection machine. The data on the devices can be updated via the software, sensors, or even buttons on the device itself. 

 

In conclusion, as technology evolves, it's crucial for the facility managers of healthcare facilities, like hospitals or clinics, to update as quickly as possible so that the health outcomes of their patients are always the top priority.
This type of IoT solution is one of the few things a hospital can and should purchase to help save money and pay for itself. By helping to keep infected patients isolated, improving flow to minimize exposure to other people, and helping staff find the tools they need quicker, location services can significantly improve healthcare, all with the help of IoT technology. Join the future of healthcare today!

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