Saving time and money with RTLS

Saving time and money with RTLS

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | February 05, 2020
Business Affairs
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine


That meant it had to be looked at to make sure it was working correctly and that its utilization was valid. The investigation was eye-opening. Tags had dead batteries, monitors had dead batteries, meaning those items were offline and had to be found without the help of the system they’re supposed to fuel. In some cases, equipment was mislabeled by tag, meaning the system would indicate one type of asset assigned to a tag, but when a staff member located that asset, it would be something other than what was inventoried. Still other tags were just being put to poor use. Travis gave the example of finding a tag on a television bolted to a wall. And finally, tags were walking out the door — to the tune of $30K over the course of two months — on the wrists of patients.

According to Travis’ research, there were eight or nine thousand tags around the facility with no one going into the system to make use of them. Pushing forward, she developed her plan. It not only required changing of batteries, but also changing of habits and processes.

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Travis realized one of the key hurdles was to get everyone on board with using the system right and also making smarter use of tags. The brainstorming and input from potential user groups spanned about seven months. Presentations were made to the CEO, CFO and CNO two or three times, to explain the opportunities for savings that the system could provide if it was made efficient. An inventorying was done. Tag usage was reduced from that 8,000 or 9,000 to about 5,000. And a new department, dubbed the “Mission Control” team, was created. Staffed by eight to 10 full-time employees, the Mission Control team serves as the operational support for an RTLS system. Daily, this team uses the RTLS system to maintain par levels of equipment on each nursing unit, cleaning equipment as necessary.

Travis also made sure that the company behind the organization’s RTLS was aware that they needed to be a partner, not just a provider. Patient tagging was removed and the system was redeployed with asset and staff tagging only. A formal RTLS committee was developed to approve or deny all items tagged. Any new use of tags had to be discussed and justified and then maintained so that the system continued to be streamlined and efficient.

The results of Travis’ work will continue to emerge over the years, but the numbers are promising already. “After we redeployed, we had the finance manager go over the numbers. We were able to have a contribution margin of over $400K. That’s the cost of the system, full-time employee salaries and benefits. That’s our hard savings,” says Travis.

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