PRODUCTS & SERVICES Sourcing RTLS: Providers must plot course for tracking assets

Compared to bar coding’s emergence as a track- ing mechanism in the healthcare supply chain from the retail and manufacturing industries in the mid-1970s and its subsequent slow-and- steady growth during the ensuing decades, real-time location system (RTLS) technology seemingly blasted out of the gate 15 years ago, charting a meteoric rise in interest and popular- ity that arguably outpaces actual adoption and implementation. While few can dispute the need for using some

type of track-and-trace mechanism, be it bar cod- ing or any of the RTLS modalities or platforms, most acknowledge that electronic tracking technology no longer simply represent the wave of the future in controlling and managing costs but must be the wave of the present. To access HPN’s extensive historical coverage

and exploration of RTLS issues during the last decade, visit HPN Online and use the search term “RTLS.”

Sagi Geva, Director, Acute Care Solutions, STANLEY Healthcare, Waltham, MA

“Rather than approach RTLS and asset manage- ment simply from a technology perspective, it is important to understand the use case and what hospitals are trying to achieve. As RTLS pioneers in healthcare, we understand how to incorporate our key partnerships with our tech- nology to help our customers meet their needs with solutions that improve efficiency, financial performance and clinical outcomes. Our RTLS technology encompasses a broad spectrum of capabilities, including Wi-Fi, ultrasound and low frequency for room/sub-room-level accuracy, RAIN RFID, and soon BLE-based solutions [Blue- tooth Low Energy]. While our technology covers a wide range of use cases, we also have unique partnerships and capabilities to integrate other healthcare technologies and applications for our customers. The concept of connected health re- mains a priority to our healthcare customers, and integration partnerships with key industry leaders enables STANLEY Healthcare to provide a more streamlined, connected solution to address our customers’ operational and clinical challenges. “Our partnership with BD is a key differ-

entiator in the realm of asset management for infusion pumps. The integration between the BD Alaris System and the STANLEY Healthcare AeroScout RTLS platform enables biomedical engineering to not only locate an asset but also to see its device status. This higher level of visibility can have a dramatic effect on both staff productivity and asset utilization rates. Since implementing our joint integrated solution, one customer has experienced a number of benefits. The hospital has now accomplished 100 percent preventive maintenance performance of

over 800 devices with only two FTE bio- medical engineers across a 1.1M-square-foot facility — equivalent savings of $21,000, an- nually. Prior to the joint solution, drug library updates on the pumps used to take up to a full year. Now they can be completed in a matter of a few weeks. The hospital and BD achieved 100 percent device remediation on a recent recall within just 5 days. Recall management is a known industry challenge, and the standard approach is to manually search the entire hospital to find devices, which can take weeks and often fails to turn up all devices.”

Kevin Jackson, Chief Technologist, Versus Technology, a subsidiary of Midmark Corp., Traverse City, MI

“At its foundation, the Versus Asset Tracking and Management solution delivers location data in real time, enabling care teams to spend less time searching for equipment and more time focusing on patients. With Versus, location data can be very precise (room-level or better) using small, discrete wired or wireless sensors, or general, using the existing Wi-Fi network (floor, wing or better depending on the density of access points). Integrating retrospective reporting and PAR-level management optimizes inventory and increases asset utilization so clinical staff always have equipment available for patient care, when and where it’s needed. The Versus difference is the accurate technology and intuitive software used to deliver reliable location information. “Most importantly, by leveraging more than

25 years of RTLS implementation experience, Versus knows that technology alone cannot solve process inefficiency issues,” continued Jackson. “Technology implementations trigger cultural shifts within healthcare organizations. People’s roles, processes and behaviors are affected, and thus influence outcomes. Dis- regarding the ‘people factor’ often leads to user frustrations, disengagement and invest- ment failure. Versus is uniquely poised with a Performance Improvement team that ensures customers align processes and objectives with proper project scoping, all while preparing for efficiency change. Ultimately, this combination of accurate hardware, top-rated software, and change management consulting services, by a single partner, positions Versus as the ideal and total solution to support customer growth and deliver consistent, reliable performance.”

Chris Sullivan, Global Healthcare Practice Lead, Zebra Technologies, Lincolnshire, IL

“Zebra has the most comprehensive portfolio of indoor location technologies and capabilities available in the marketplace. Our technology plat- forms include Wi-Fi, ultra-wideband (UWB), GPS


and BLE, as well as passive and active 900MHz and 2.4GHz RFID. The robustness of our RTLS portfolio allows healthcare providers to match the right technology to their exact application of need, helping prevent unnecessary expenses and flawed implementations. Zebra’s RTLS solutions also include a data management platform that integrates input from a combination of technolo- gies and passes the location sensor inputs via [application programming interfaces] to a rich ecosystem of software workflow application part- ners. Through the delivery of our RTLS operational intelligence system we unify disparate patient, staff, and medical asset technologies together and provide a complete hospital/enterprise-wide RTLS solution to help enable superior patient care delivery and operational efficiency.”

Jatinder Sihra, Global Marketing Director- Digital Solutions, GE Healthcare, Milwaukee

“The Encompass platform, a new wireless solution developed by GE Healthcare and Ze- bra Technologies, aims to make the benefits of RTLS accessible and affordable to a broad range of care providers. This approach, built upon open standards and Bluetooth low energy and Wi-Fi technologies, avoids the classic objections to proprietary hard-wired locating systems. By combining Bluetooth low energy with the hospital’s existing Wi-Fi infrastructure, Encompass can be installed in days instead of months and without opening ceilings or drilling into walls to run cable. As a cloud-based application, the location system is accessible to authorized staff from any computer or mobile device with internet access. This means staff can find equipment from wherever they are, instead of having to find a computer loaded with custom software.”

Joe Pleshek, CEO, Terso Solutions, Fitchburg, WI (works with Champion Healthcare Technologies, Lake Zurich, IL)

“Champion’s inventory tracking and locating systems are based on passive, Ultra High Fre- quency (UHF) RFID technology. Many of the current RTLS products are based on active-based RFID. Active RFID requires the tags that are ap- plied to the assets to provide the power to send their unique identification and location to the sensor/reader. Passive RFID, on the other hand, sends power to the tags, which enables them to communicate their unique identification and location to the reader. With the rapid adoption of passive RFID in retail, transportation and now healthcare the costs for the RFID tags and readers are coming down rapidly. In addition, passive RFID readers can now be deployed on expanding wireless networks in hospitals. These trends are enabling inventory and asset

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