Prior to the HITECH Act, RTLS was gaining a lot of ground in healthcare. But with the introduction of Meaningful Use, providers began to focus on getting their EMRs up and running, and RTLS was put on the back burner. Today, the EMR dust is beginning to settle, and many healthcare providers are wondering whether it’s a good time — and whether it’s even worth their time — to take another look at RTLS.
KLAS was wondering as well. We have published reports on RTLS in the past that have included plenty of performance data and details about specific functionality. This year, we decided to do something a little different.
For the RTLS 2019 report, KLAS interviewed a few of each vendor’s deepest adopters of their products to help answer some important questions: What outcomes are you achieving with RTLS? How are you achieving them? Which vendors are successfully helping providers drive outcomes? And what are those vendors doing?
Some people might wonder whether RTLS products can even drive significant outcomes at all. According to providers, the answer is yes. The chart below lists the four outcomes listed most often by the providers KLAS interviewed for our 2019 report.
As you can see, increased data visibility was the top outcome mentioned. Knowing key items’ locations and statuses leads to the other outcomes listed in the chart and helps providers do their jobs effectively. Here’s one excerpt:
“We can find things when we need them; we don’t have people running around looking for them. We can also see when cooling devices have failed, so we can relocate drugs to working refrigeration units. We have identified opportunities to replace older units.”
It’s also encouraging that improved patient care/safety is second on the list. After all, isn’t the end goal of every healthcare IT product to make patient lives better? I appreciate the following comment from one provider:
“One of the things that I am really proud of is the hand-hygiene implementation. The solution shows that we are probably washing our hands and trying to prevent infections from spreading from patient to patient. We have been able to keep our infection rates low. The change has been a process, but over time, we have seen a decline in our infection rates. That has been extremely pleasing and meaningful because that is something that touches the patients.”
Rounding out the list of the most frequently mentioned outcomes is increased efficiency and financial gains. These might excite potential RTLS customers the most. One of our provider friends found that even this relatively simple technology can lead to significant savings:
“We have been able to improve our door-to-doctor times by 10 minutes. We have improved our patient safety and staff efficiency… Users can just see information on the computer screen. That saves steps, and that translates to saving money. I have saved my treatment room nurses from walking an extra mile each day.”
Vendor and Provider Efforts
Providers looking at purchasing a new RTLS product or optimizing a current one often wonder about the respective roles of the RTLS vendor and the provider organization. What should providers expect their vendors to do? Vendors may also wonder how involved their customers would like them to be.
KLAS’ interviews for this report yielded fascinating answers. Only one deep adopter said that their RTLS vendor had been the main driver of outcomes. There are definitely vendors who are providing a lot of actionable data, collaboration, and support, and we talk about those vendors in our report. But vendors have a huge opportunity to offer more guidance.
Many vendors claim that they push their customers in adoption and optimization. To me, that’s how things should be. The vendors know the potential of their tools and exactly how to make them function at the highest possible level. But it appears that many providers aren’t being taught adequately about all of the great things they can do with their RTLS tools.
Despite this gap, many of the provider organizations we interviewed have found ways to reap a lot of benefits from their RTLS products. Our report includes advice from these deep adopters on how to achieve the outcomes discussed above.
Worth a Look
It’s true that those gaining the most success with their RTLS tools are also among those putting the most work into the technology. But that is the case in almost every area of healthcare. If you’re searching for ways to improve efficiency and patient care at your organization, leveraging RTLS technology could be the answer.
Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. You can get advice from other providers who have walked the same path before you. To read details about best practices, the pros and cons of each RTLS vendor, and what RTLS can do for you, check out RTLS 2019 report.