By Scott Hondros, MHA

Healthcare professionals have remained resilient over the course of the pandemic. Even so, the past few years have placed an even greater strain on employees, which has amplified staff burnout and stressed the labor market. This has led to an increase in employee turnover, workplace violence, and reduced retention of experienced staff. Decreasing the stress placed on healthcare professionals is a critical aspect to combating burnout and promoting staff retention.

Investing in support options for healthcare staff during the upcoming year makes sense across the board. According to The Joint Commission, reducing workplace violence can lower burnout, distress, job dissatisfaction, turnover, and expenses while improving patient care. The cost of injuries from workplace violence now lands at nearly $100,000 per incident, while it also limits an employee’s ability to work and increases anxieties in the workplace.

Equipping healthcare professionals with the most advanced safety tools and lessening their involvement in non-patient-oriented tasks are crucial steps when it comes to improving staff satisfaction, the patient experience, and the facility’s bottom line. IoT technology such as real-time location systems (RTLS) provide the support resource-constrained healthcare teams need most. RTLS was created with clinicians in mind and the purpose of this technology is to automate administrative tasks and return their focus and time to what they care about most—their patients.

Using IoT-enabled badges, tags, and sensors, an RTLS’ active-RFID technology platform and connected software applications display the real-time locations of medical equipment, staff, and patients. Asset tracking and patient locating are common use cases, but many other solutions are available. For example, wireless staff duress enables staff to call security from wherever they are should they need assistance from a potentially violent encounter.

Advanced workflow platforms leveraging RTLS can ensure providers do not need to ask where their patients are in the care process, search rooms, or wait for manual status updates. This cost-effective solution enhances operational workflows and benefits communications to alleviate the burden of manual documentation required throughout each phase of clinical care.

How Healthcare Benefits from Enterprise Visibility

The turnover rate for registered nurses in 2021 increased 8% and greatly reduced the retention of experienced staff, costing healthcare facilities around $60,000 per nurse and losing decades of employee knowledge. Lessening the stress and manual, non-value-added tasks placed on healthcare professionals are critical aspects of combating burnout and promoting staff retention.

An efficient workflow and comprehensive analytics platform are crucial in healthcare. Like any organization, healthcare facilities must analyze data to make decisions concerning facility performance, staffing plans, customer satisfaction, and long-term goals. To secure the most efficient workflow optimization and benefit patient care in 2023, healthcare teams need platforms that automate workflow. With these insights, teams are on the same page with up-to-the-minute visibility to continuously measure interactions, such as patient volume, length of stay, room utilization, wait times, busiest windows, and time with providers to benefit operations, monitor the impact of process changes, and improve the overall experience.

By leveraging a user-friendly workflow platform, healthcare professionals can utilize staff view display boards that offer an easy-to-read layout with a holistic look at interactions and movement throughout the facility, as well as daily to hourly averages of individual milestones to help identify anomalies or bottlenecks. It can often be time-consuming and impacted by human error when healthcare staff juggle patient needs and administrative documentation. RTLS’ IoT-enabled badges and tags automate data collection enterprise-wide to gain real-time insights and documentation on equipment utilization, clinical workflows, interactions, and overall safety.

With the use of IoT-enabled badges assigned upon patient check-in, advanced workflow platforms can also produce a major impact by offering proactive status updates and text messaging alerts for patient-approved family.

For example, when patients are wheeled out from surgical rooms at Florida Eye Specialists and moved into recovery areas, staff can see the changeover in real-time and begin preparing the operating room for the next patient. Family can also receive notifications to stay informed on their loved one’s care progression. Real-time patient information and clear communication keep operations in any complex healthcare environment running smoothly.

How to Maximize Your RTLS—Impact Patients, Staff, and ROI

To ensure healthcare professionals are optimizing RTLS for greater operational efficiency, higher safety standards, the ultimate patient and staff experiences, and substantial ROI, strategic RTLS partners offer expert-led consulting and training services. These programs provide tailored, multi-tiered assessments and transformational practices to ensure the right technology is deployed, the best processes are in place to fully leverage the investment, and adequate resources are available. Healthcare teams can maximize their real-time technologies and drive meaningful change throughout their enterprise using practical guidance.

The best way to achieve a substantial increase in value across an entire healthcare campus is with a personalized approach that combines expert consulting and workflow redesign. Both are customized to the unique needs and goals of each specific facility. This method assists healthcare leaders in fully leveraging their location services while growing user adoption and driving change management.

Expert-led consultations will provide recommendations on the ways to enhance staff workflow optimization, asset management, and patient throughput while increasing productivity and reducing operating costs. Additionally, the most advanced offerings provide a consulting analytics platform that leverages the power of machine learning (ML), predictive AI, federated learning, and real-time alerting tools to share continuous process improvements.

Further Enhances Workflow Operations with Other RTLS Add-Ons

As healthcare organizations seek the most from their RTLS, they must consider selecting a partner with a comprehensive suite of offerings. Many organizations begin with a single application when they first explore RTLS, such as asset management or staff duress, but teams and leadership often desire to implement additional use cases as staff experience the technology and associated benefits. By choosing an RTLS partner with a comprehensive suite of solutions, it’s easier to scale to other use cases in the future and ensure minimal rework or downtime as the system receives additional add-ons.

A holistic approach to RTLS supports a greater ROI for healthcare organizations. When considering a new tech solution, take the time to assess current pain points and the anticipated roadmap for the next few years. In addition to a suite of solutions, healthcare facilities should seek to partner with a strategic vendor who will explore the facility’s objectives and pain points to deliver a 3-to-5-year implementation plan with associated investment projections and necessary operational resourcing.

Location Technology Is Only Beginning to Grow

RTLS have progressed majorly as AI and ML have developed in healthcare over the last decade. Significant proof of improvements on the clinical and operational sides is being witnessed throughout the industry.

As RTLS becomes an even larger tool within healthcare facilities, the industry will see further increases in predictive data, automated administrative needs, and reductions in cost. By reducing manual documentation, clinicians can reallocate precious time back to patient care, boost staff morale, and experience quantifiable cost savings.

Scott Hondros, MHA, SCPM is the vice president of professional services at CenTrak, which offers locating, sensing, and security solutions for the healthcare industry. Questions and comments can be directed to 24×7 chief editor Keri Forsythe-Stephens at [email protected].