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The Role of RTLS in a Post-Pandemic Healthcare System

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Getting Employees Assistance During Violent Incidents

Studies indicate that up to 38% of healthcare workers face violence in the workplace at some point in their careers. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this issue, with 20% of registered nurses in the USA experiencing increased workplace violence due to various factors such as staff shortages and visitation restrictions. These incidents often occur suddenly and without warning. However, RTLS technology can help expedite assistance during emergencies. For instance, individuals can easily alert others by pressing a button on their badge, providing their name and location to ensure prompt help arrives. IT teams should consult healthcare staff to determine which features would be most beneficial for such technology, such as location monitoring and alerts in multiple formats like text messages or email.

Protecting Profitability and Satisfaction

RTLS technology can also aid healthcare facilities in safeguarding their bottom line while simultaneously improving employee satisfaction levels. A survey found that a significant percentage of nursing professionals over the age of 54 were considering retirement, with most planning to do so within three years. The pandemic has likely increased these figures due to burnout and stress experienced by healthcare workers. Although RTLS cannot prevent people from leaving the workforce, it can delay some employees’ decisions. For example, by monitoring staff and resources in real-time, RTLS can help ensure adequate technician availability or identify areas where staffing shortages may cause issues. This, in turn, can alleviate frustration and reduce staff turnover. Additionally, shortages and longer wait times can negatively impact patient satisfaction, leading them to seek care elsewhere. By addressing these challenges, RTLS technology contributes to the profitability and reputation of healthcare facilities.

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Maintaining Visibility of All Assets

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical need for real-time visibility of essential medical supplies and equipment. RTLS technology enables healthcare settings to accurately track the location of all assets, ensuring their availability and optimal utilization. For instance, it can indicate if there are enough technicians available to handle the workload in the radiology department or any other area within a hospital. By addressing staffing shortages or misplaced supplies, RTLS technology minimizes disruptions and frustrations for both staff and patients. Jakob Skaaren Nielsen, CEO of Healthcare Denmark, emphasized how RTLS helps hospitals manage their supplies during the pandemic, ensuring the availability of equipment and capacity for COVID-19 patients.

Reducing Infection Rates

The pandemic has necessitated additional measures to prevent the spread of infections. RTLS technology can play a crucial role in reducing healthcare-associated infections, which have long been a problem. For instance, sensors on soap dispensers can detect when someone approaches a hand-washing station and notify them when they have utilized soap and water for the recommended duration. Similarly, RTLS technology can issue alerts when a task is completed without proper hand hygiene. Additionally, RTLS aids in combating infections caused by unclean equipment. It can provide information on the sterilization cycle of reusable medical devices, ensuring that they are ready for use on the next patient.

Moving Towards the Post-Pandemic Future

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect healthcare systems globally, it is necessary to anticipate the future of healthcare. These examples demonstrate the pivotal role that RTLS should play in post-pandemic discussions. Although IT teams may not directly participate in patient care, their involvement in RTLS implementation is crucial for maximizing the technology’s potential. They can gather feedback from healthcare professionals, identify needs and goals, and select the most suitable tech that offers real-time updates.

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By embracing RTLS technology, healthcare systems can enhance safety, improve operational efficiency, and ensure better outcomes for both staff and patients.

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