Speeding Patient Throughput with RTLS

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media , August 15, 2011
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As with Christiana Care, examining the data allowed the organization to take tracking a step further, getting a handle on its inventory and cutting down on unnecessary orders and equipment rentals.

“You can get a complete picture of your inventory,” Neal says. “One of the things we found out was we had too much of some stuff—we were able to find that out just by seeing that some of it never moved. Another component to the inventory piece is avoiding rental equipment. If you have exactly the right amount, then you don’t have to rent it.” If you do rent a piece of equipment, RFID helps locate the item when it’s time to return it.

The two main benefits both fall into the category of cost avoidance—the money saved through asset loss prevention and the money saved when you don’t buy or rent equipment you don’t need, Neal says. It’s hard to measure something that doesn’t happen, but Neal says he knows that the system has saved at least two pumps from the Dumpster and saved about $50,000 worth of materials that were stored at an improper temperature or about to expire.

“It adds up,” he says. “You can put that $50,000 someplace else.”

He predicts the system will have recouped its investment in the RTLS—including installation and maintenance—within two years.

The other big return on investment in the tracking system is saved time.

‘Hunters and gatherers’

By OSUMC employees’ own estimates, they save roughly 20 minutes per person per shift. It might sound like a small number, but that’s 20 more minutes a day a nurse can spend with his or her patients.

“More than anything, I think it does make their lives easier. We have been repeatedly told that our clinical staff—nurses in particular—are hunters and gatherers. They are constantly in search of someone or something, and they spend most of their time looking for things and bringing them someplace else,” Neal says. “Making that easier is something that’s a big satisfier and the systems are extremely popular with our staff.”



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