The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust invested in RTLS, which automatically identifies and tracks the location of objects or people in real time through the use of badges, location sensors, and software. All 4,000 staff who have direct contact with patients—including nurses, doctors, allied health professionals, and porters—wear electronic location tracking badges. In addition, beds and equipment are tagged, and patients wear wristbands to track their location at all times. This information populates an organization-wide dashboard giving leaders and staff real-time visibility of all patients, staff, beds, and equipment.
Initially, Wolverhampton invested in RTLS technology to track hand hygiene compliance among staff. They had some success, but found that it was hard to use the system to accurately monitor compliance. However, their RTLS investment didn’t go to waste, as the real-time data provided an accurate and timely picture of where staff, patients, and equipment were in the hospital. As a result, leaders decided to use the system to improve patient flow.
Securing clinician buy-in on RTLS
Staff at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust initially had concerns about RTLS tracking their locations. Leaders held open discussions with staff to discuss how the tracking information would be used. They assured staff that location data would be used only when relevant to patient and safety care, never to monitor their behavior. These discussions helped gain buy-in and, over time, staff recognized the power of RTLS to improve care and efficiency.
To further secure clinician buy-in, we recommend creating a policy document that outlines how RTLS data will and will not be used. Additionally, throughout the process be sure to consult with change management experts, human resources, and key leaders to ensure staff cooperation and adoption of RTLS technology.
For most organizations, implementing the RTLS technology costs between $750 and $1,500 per bed. Beyond the up-front cost of the technology and installation, the
RTLS system requires ongoing software licensing—The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust spends about £200,000 (approximately $245,000) per year on licenses.
Vendors estimate that it can take between 4 and 12 months to implement a patient flow system, depending on the functionality used and the size of the implementation.
There are many different types of RTLS technology on the market, and it’s common for technologies to be used in combination depending on an organization’s needs. Excerpts of the summary comparison of major RTLS technologies and tips to implement RTLS at your organization appear below.
Find the full version of these tables in the Supporting Artifacts section on page 12 of the PDF.