The coronavirus has had a devastating impact not only on the health of millions of people worldwide but also on the financial security of thousands of healthcare institutions. With the global lockdown lifting, hospitals and other healthcare institutions have begun to resume the processes of providing non-emergency medical care, elective procedures, and checkups. Along with that, it was necessary to quickly recover the financial losses caused by the pandemic. The introduction of new technologies, especially IoT-based RTLS, helped in solving these problems.
Healthcare had already been using IoT technologies; particularly, those for detecting the exact location of a patient. In a situation of constant coronavirus threat, new opportunities for using RTLS open up:
1. Tracking equipment in order to reduce the cost and time associated with manually searching for them. This helps employees to quickly find what they need, such as lung ventilators or PPE, decreasing the possibility of loss, theft, or misplacing.
2. Identifying patients and staff members who may have been exposed to coronavirus infection by real-time contact tracing thus keeping incidences of infection down.
3. Tracking high-risk patients and receiving notifications if they enter or exit specified areas, which helps to prevent them from getting lost or entering restricted zones.
4. Optimizing visitors’ route to their destination by placing beacons throughout the hospital building so that, in combination with a mobile app, they can provide indoor navigation using turn-by-turn directions.
5. Providing a better visitor and patient experience by collecting valuable insight on how much time patients spend in certain areas and taking measures to fix problems that can be identified using the data.
6. Mitigating bed crises through efficient bed management by using specialized software.
7. Streamlining human resource allocation, affirming that each department or specialty is appropriately staffed to provide patients with the highest quality and most timely care.
Improved workflows increase efficiency
Medical workers are constantly on the move. Tracking their location will save valuable time, when, for example, there is a necessity to call a doctor of a particular specialization for an urgent operation. However, tracking the movements of patients and staff manually is hard and inefficient. Automation using RTLS will make it possible to optimize hospital resources. Also, the system will give the opportunity to aggregate patient data and provide the doctor with the most detailed information for making a decision.
Medical records and current patient status are also updated automatically. The information goes to electronic health records (EHRs), so there is no need to wait until the doctor or nurse manually updates the data. Moreover, the exact time of each change is recorded. If a patient has a relapse, the doctor knows exactly when it happened and how much time they have to take action.
RTLS helps to make better use of the hospital premises. The time of surgery and examination room turnover is reduced, their throughput increases and hence so does the profit. The downtime of mobile medical equipment is reduced. This is especially important given the fact that the number of requests for non-emergency medical care is sharply increasing after the lockdown.
More accurate data improves decision-making
Automation makes processes more efficient, allowing patients to wait less and move on to the next treatment stage faster. This makes them less likely to contract infectious diseases, such as coronavirus, from other people in the clinic’s waiting room.
By analyzing the historical data obtained using RTLS, healthcare institutions can predict the expected number of doctor-patient encounters. This allows clinics to prepare for an influx of patients in advance. The management gets time to engage resources from other areas, if needed. Real-time data analysis provides a means for using resources optimally and avoiding downtime. This applies to premises, equipment, and human resources.
Improved workflows and decision making will benefit both healthcare facilities and their patients. During the coronavirus outbreak, location services have become an important resource for healthcare.
As a custom healthcare software development company, we at Andersen agree that further investment in this technology will help medical centers and clinics prevent productivity losses, resume all operations, and return to pre-pandemic financial levels faster. Having 13 years of experience in building various software for businesses, including Healthcare institutions, we are ready to both provide skilled specialists to strengthen the customer’s IT team or take over the entire development process.