In light of the COVID-19 nursing shortage, Vizzia Technologies and Georgia State University (GSU) joined forces to streamline tasks for nurses in Atlanta hospitals. Their collaborative white paper illustrates how real-time location systems (RTLS) could potentially save up to $14 billion annually in nurse productivity—a finding Vizzia Technologies CEO Jim Forbes highlights below.

24×7: What prompted Vizzia Technologies and Georgia State University’s Lewis College of Nursing to collaborate on this research project?

Jim Forbes: The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the ongoing U.S. nursing shortage, which approximately 30% of nurses left the workforce during the “Great Resignation.” Job burnout was one of the top reasons. Both GSU and Vizzia provide valuable resources to Atlanta’s prominent hospitals (i.e., nurses and data analytics, respectively). Thus, we collaborated on research as to how technologies can be applied in a clinical setting to alleviate administrative tasks and increase job satisfaction for nurses. We quickly identified that nurses searching for medical equipment can be alleviated with a real-time location system, or RTLS.

24×7: Can you provide more details about the $14 billion nursing efficiency problem mentioned in the white paper?

Forbes: There are 1.7 million registered nurses working in hospital or surgical settings in the U.S. If these nurses spend at least an hour per shift looking for equipment, that equates to 200 hours annually of lost productivity not in direct patient care. With an estimated average salary of $40 per hour for a hospital RN, the time spent looking for equipment could save up to $14 billion dollars per year in reallocated nurse productivity.

24×7: How does RTLS technology contribute to improving healthcare delivery, specifically in terms of nursing efficiency?

Forbes: Efficient time management is crucial for nurses to spend more time on direct patient care and less on administrative tasks. Reducing waste, particularly in time spent looking for medical equipment, can significantly improve nursing efficiency and ultimately enhance patient experience, care, and outcomes. One major area that can be improved is time spent searching for medical equipment. Studies reveal that nurses spend up to 60 minutes per shift searching for lost equipment, significantly affecting their productivity. By providing real-time data on equipment locations, RTLS empowers nurses to spend less time searching for medical devices and more time on direct patient care.

24×7: What specific challenges do nurses face in their daily tasks that RTLS technology aims to address?

Forbes: Staff safety is a top concern for the healthcare industry. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, incidents of workplace violence are four times more common in healthcare than in other professions. RTLS-enabled staff badges allow nurses to press a silent alarm on their badge, immediately alerting supervisors and security that they need assistance and where their exact location is (i.e., room level certainty).

Hand hygiene is another top concern for nurses and patients alike. With a RTLS, sensors are installed on handwashing equipment and throughout the facility. The sensors communicate with caregiver badges and provide real-time alerts when a caregiver forgets to wash their hands. This solution eliminates the need for manual monitoring and provides more accurate data about who is and isn’t compliant. The technology protects nurses and patients and reduces infection risks among staff members.

24×7: What are some examples of medical equipment that nurses commonly spend time searching for during their shifts?

Forbes: Expensive, movable instruments such as IV pumps, respirators, ventilators, crash carts, and portable radiology devices. These high-value items are in demand by nurses and doctors in an acute care facility. Having the right quantity and availability in clean storage for clinicians to utilize increases staff satisfaction and enhances patient care.

24×7: Could you provide insights into the upcoming panel discussion at Georgia State University regarding RTLS and its impact on nursing and patient care?

Forbes: [On May 10,] clinical leaders from Atlanta’s prominent healthcare providers will discuss how a variety of new technologies are assisting nurses to optimize patient care and provide a higher degree of job satisfaction. RTLS is deployed at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, as well as Atlanta’s Emory, Grady, and Piedmont hospitals. Other technologies the panelists will discuss include virtual patient monitoring, EHR integrations, and AI-powered solutions.