One size does NOT fit all for real-time location tracking in healthcare

by Patrick Jenkins, Senior Program Manager

It is common for healthcare organizations to believe that location tracking technologies are built on fairly rigid technological models because many such solutions are. Leading RTLS providers are changing this paradigm with more flexible and open designs. At AiRISTA Flow, we believe that RTLS can be easy to use and simple to deploy, so we have designed our hardware and software to deliver on this end. Our solutions are wireless, easy to scale, and built to support user-friendly management. These factors come together to make it possible to obtain a custom RTLS solution; you don’t need to be a tech user to fine-tune your RTLS strategy.

“Our RTLS platform offers end-to-end customization.”

AiRISTA Flow RTLS solutions are built to offer end-to-end customization without requiring you to be a technical administrator or engineer to get the job done. The AiRISTA Flow Vision software platform enables users to access a simple application where they can name tags, set parameters for how they operate, and otherwise interact with the system through a simple, streamlined interface. The implications of this freedom for customization come out in a few key areas of operations, but they generally fall into three broad categories:

1. Simplifying asset management
Asset tags can end up serving wildly different purposes depending on your use environment. You may need one set of tags to reside on batches of pharmaceutical materials that must be stored within a specific temperature range. In this case, an asset tag equipped with temperature monitoring can be set to notify specific users if the temperature exceeds or falls below prescribed levels.

This is a simple enough form of customization to seem fairly straightforward, but there are also some nuances. For example, you can also customize how the notification of temperature problems is sent out. Does it go to relevant users via email? Do you want the system to put an alert in the AiRISTA Flow Vision software and leave it at that? Would you rather have the RTLS platform identify relevant users within a certain proximity of the refrigerator and notify them on their personnel badge tag? You can customize our platform to meet any of these demands, or all of them at once, to make sure any asset-related issue is communicated to the right people at the right time.

Temperature monitoring isn’t the only way that customization can help you monitor assets. You can also customize workflows regarding specific items within your hospital, such as emergency kits, wheelchairs, and computer carts. Within this framework, you can set the system to notify prescribed users when assets have left a pre-determined area, if the number of assets available in storage has dwindled to levels you are uncomfortable with, or if an asset is residing in an area considered out of bounds. All of these parameters can be set easily within the software platform, letting your users create the tracking framework that makes the most sense for their operational needs.

Customization makes it easier for your hospital to take advantage of innovation tracking capabilities.Customization makes it easier for your hospital to take advantage of innovation tracking capabilities.

2. Streamlining day-to-day personnel and patient management
Analyzing and improving workflows in a hospital–whether the workflows are related to staff, patients, or both–can place a huge operational burden on management teams. Location tracking tools make it easier to manage human resources, and customization is especially important here because no two organizations, or even departments, operate in the same way. Our RTLS platform delivers a few key customization features that pay off in this area:

Prevent patients from wandering: Patient tags can be customized with the parameters of where they are allowed to travel and used to identify their location. This is nice if you ever need to find a patient who is out of his or her room, but it’s especially important in dementia wards or psychiatric care areas, where patients may be prone to wander. The system can be set to notify relevant parties once patients leave a prescribed area, making it easier for your staff to track them down. Furthermore, you can set the system to either notify personnel relative to who is responsible for the patient or to simply notify staff based on proximity so they can nip the issue in the bud. Ultimately, both patient care and workflows are improved with such a custom RTLS solution.

Customize tag batches: You can group tags however you want based on the specific requirements of your facility. For example, you could have a group of tags for first floor nurses, second floor nurses, etc., or have individual tags for each nurse. If you are concerned about personal identification, you can simply have tags labeled “Nurse 1,” “Nurse 2” etc. This freedom to create groups freely ensures that you always have the best tools possible in place to identify your user groups.

“Customization features fit within our goal of making RTLS accessible.”

3. Adjusting tracking and alert parameters on the fly
Of course, the freedom to create custom user groups and simplify asset tracking would be limited if you had to deal with rigid operational parameters. For example, if your asset tags could only check on an asset once every minute, you would find the alerts limiting for sensitive materials and potentially annoying for assets that require less frequent monitoring. Similarly, you may not need to track personnel at all times, and only want to be notified when they have left a predetermined area. However, when they do exit that region, how often do you want to be reminded that they are still out of bounds? Our system lets you customize every parameter, and frees you to identify how notifications are sent, which can help reduce alarm fatigue.

The ability to customize alert parameters is beneficial in terms of managing assets and dealing with wandering patients, as already discussed, but it is also incredibly useful in an emergency. You can choose how panic notifications will be sent through the system based on your specific security protocols. For example, when a staff member triggers a panic alarm on their wearable tag, you can have the alert simultaneously be sent out to security and/or nearby staff. However, if a security worker triggers a panic alarm, it may automatically notify administration and/or external law enforcement. You can streamline emergency response by analyzing your security needs and adjusting notifications accordingly.

All of these customization features fit within our goal of making RTLS solutions as accessible as possible. Our AiRISTA Flow Vision software ensures that non-tech users can adjust these parameters with ease through a simple interface, ensuring that your location tracking plans remain flexible and responsive to your organizational demands. Every Ekahau customer can have their own custom RTLS solution offering a unique experience that helps to meet their organizational objectives.