Two workers inspect medical scanning equipment

Real-Time Tracking Addresses Top Hospital Challenges


By Dave Francoeur and Rodney Kellam

Three major challenges for every hospital are enhancing patient satisfaction, meeting unwavering regulatory standards, and keeping costs in line.

TKA is excited to introduce a Real-Time Location System (RTLS), which provides a one-stop resource for organizations to make a single investment and score a healthcare hat trick.

Through badges and tags that communicate via a series of sensors installed in a medical facility, hospital leaders can track everything from the frequency of providers engaging with and caring for patients to halting high-value, high-cost medical devices from being rolled or carried out the front door. The key benefit for healthcare systems is the Bluetooth technology that delivers a more efficient and accurate system than last generation’s hard-wired models, which were costly both to install and maintain.

TKA’s RTLS allows hospitals to determine key metrics they want to track, with that information served up immediately on dashboards.

Based on healthcare facility goals, locators are installed in designated areas, with the number and spacing depending on the physical nature of the building; each locater, in general, covers up to 50 square feet. Providers clip on a badge that communicates with each locator, which relays data – including the individual and length of time spent in that area – to a web-based information platform. For medical equipment, either a smart beacon, which flashes a light alarm if not available for service, or a coin-sized beacon is attached to each high-value device.

Multiple returns on a single investment

TKA’s offering delivers broad applicability across multiple operational areas, allowing multiple departments to gain significant benefits without duplicate technology investments:

  1. Higher Productivity and Patient Outcomes: Nurses reportedly spend an hour a day trying to find equipment and supplies – only to find that a device is not clean or is broken. RTLS tells you exactly where clean, available equipment can be found only a click away via a mobile app. TKA’s hospital partners will find that this tool can connect directly with TEAMnet, our customizable Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), which represents the heartbeat of our day-to-day biomed function. Going a step further, it works hand-in-hand with TKA’s READI (Reliable Equipment Available Disinfected Inspected) program, our streamlined approach to improving the availability of clinical equipment – leading to higher provider satisfaction, lower maintenance costs and better patient care.
  1. Stronger Infection Control: One of the biggest lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for contact tracing. Personnel badges allow a hospital to identify where any provider or staff member goes within that building, as well as how long they might be in contact with an infectious patient – which is a critical marker for coronavirus spread. If you suffer an outbreak, administrators aren’t having to scramble to pinpoint employees at risk; that information is at their fingertips almost instantly. This product also allows providers to confirm that equipment has been sanitized, helping to reduce further infection spread.
  1. Enhanced Risk Management and Regulatory Compliance: When TeamNet advises that preventive maintenance is upcoming for a designated piece of equipment, RTLS allows us to find exactly where that device is at that exact moment. Additional capabilities mean biomeds can run a report to identify and then round up any equipment past due for service, which represents a major gain in closing regulatory risks and meeting 100% compliance standards. Sometimes, preventive service is delayed because the equipment is in use with a patient. A watchdog feature sends an alert when that device is no longer being used in care, so our biomeds can collect it and bring it back for maintenance. TKA has designed its RTLS with two types of tracking functions. With Passive Scan, those locators – often installed in the ceilings or upper walls – collect and report data on every device that passes within its range. With Active Scan, employees scan a code on the device and select its location for real-time counts.
  1. Improved Hospital Satisfaction: Many hospital administrators share stories of family members calling in to report their beloved inpatients say the nurses or other providers aren’t responding or coming to their room. RTLS provides another resource for documenting patient touchpoints, which often occur when the patient is sleeping or might not be healthy enough to remember. Similarly, patient badges can be used to give status updates to families, such as when the patient is moving from the operating room to recovery.
  1. Better Cost Management: To start, you are minimizing the risk of portable medical equipment being removed from the hospital. Additionally, because you know exactly what equipment you have and where it is, you’re not buying more equipment than you need – or even spending on rental equipment. (And hospitals close a gap on not incurring the risk of losing rental equipment.). One 2007 study puts the cost of lost equipment at $4,000 annually per hospital bed. As you do the math for your hospital’s size, you can see how that quickly can escalate into millions of dollars. Total losses for medical supply surpluses – which include everything from technology to surgical forceps – is estimated at $756 billion.

TKA’s RTLS provides multi-prong features that enable hospitals to address a swath of challenges, with a single investment. Contact us to find out how to best leverage this new offering in your healthcare facility, as well as how to implement the READI program to deliver on your mission for the highest quality patient care.


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