Quick guide: Using RTLS technologies to support BI in healthcare

Big data creates incredible innovation opportunities in healthcare. Hospitals can use analytics tools to identify opportunities to improve operational efficiency and patient care. However, data needs to be put into context, which is where tools supporting efforts for BI in healthcare come into play. BI software can dig deep into big data programs and identify underlying trends in the information. From there, BI provides visualization tools and similar advanced functions that make it easy to turn large, complex data sets into actionable knowledge items.

Solutions for BI in healthcare are only as valuable as the data they have to work with. Real-time location systems can take your BI efforts to another level by gathering critical data, providing consistent, actionable insights into precisely how your hospital operates. Here’s how it works:

RTLS tags gather data
Using a combination of RFID technologies and your existing Wi-Fi network, and RTLS solution can track the disposition of your personnel and assets. Software underpinning RTLS platforms can gather this information automatically at intervals that you set, giving you the control you need to handle assets and personnel in the most effective way possible.

The right data can prove invaluable for hospitals.The right data can prove invaluable for hospitals.

For example, you can have the system identify the location of pharmaceutical materials in a chiller – and verify that the refrigerator is within the correct temperature range – every few minutes. You can even set up alerts if something is going awry. Conversely, you can choose to only track personnel in the event of an emergency, giving you insights you need to keep people safe, but avoiding the challenges of constant personnel tracking. The choice is up to you.

However you choose to track your assets, the data you are gathering can be valuable in diverse ways.

Software organizes data
Hospitals can use the software behind RTLS technologies to view data in the most useful ways possible. Some of the options here include:

  • Asset audits: Get details on the number of different assets you have and their condition, making it easier to keep track of your valuable resources.
  • Equipment analysis: Track all of your medical equipment to identify which items are in use, which are in storage and how often they need maintenance/replacement. With this data on hand, you can manage inventories with greater precision and ensure you only purchase what you need.
  • Chiller reports: Temperature monitoring tools can alert you when chillers malfunction, letting you assess the situation and resolve it before materials are compromised. You can also use this data to identify trends in chiller breakdowns and identify when equipment may need to be replaced or if similar investments could resolve your operational challenges.

These are just a few of the ways that you can organize data gathered via RTLS within supporting software. The information gleaned here would be extremely cumbersome to obtain and record without the benefits of location tracking, and it can be invaluable in your BI efforts.

Using RTLS to elevate your BI initiatives
Feeding your BI system mature, well-cultivated data plays an integral role in maximizing its value potential. An RTLS solution gets your BI program data that is not available from other sources. From there, the intelligence platform can tie that information to data collected in other parts of your hospital, creating new actionable analysis that positions you to maximize your resources.

Hospitals run with limited resources, regardless of how they operate, and they need to find new ways to glean value while working to reduce the costs of patient care. Data can unlock these insights, but only if your organization is both gathering the right information and doing something useful with it. RTLS can give you new types of information and organize it in the most useful way possible. From there, BI tools can help identify the best ways to use that data as knowledge, for taking actions or implementing change, within your hospital.