How Ultrasound Based RTLS is Fueling Innovation for Today’s Senior Care Communities

The accommodations of modern senior care communities are designed to appeal to adults and seniors with a wide range of abilities and interests. To help ensure the best possible care is provided to this diverse population, skilled nursing facilities and their staff assist residents in rehabilitation after knee or hip replacements, strokes, traumatic injuries, neurological conditions, or other health setbacks. In addition, facilities are increasingly dedicated to providing family members relevant information about their loved ones.

What sets forward-looking institutions apart is their emphasis on continuous improvement, including a willingness to adopt new technologies to inform and drive that process. To retain current residents, attract new ones, and drive return on investment, long-term care industries must constantly explore innovative ways to achieve the most effective and efficient care models possible.

To this end, one of the exciting and innovative technologies that many facilities have recently adopted is a Real-Time Location System (RTLS).

Meeting real needs in real time

In the past, RTLS was associated primarily with locating equipment and managing assets. With the advent of increasingly reliable and accurate RTLS performance, application of this technology has expanded to include even more substantial care-related uses such as patient/resident monitoring, safety and security measures, staff workflow applications, and time-stamped visibility and understanding of specific milestones in the care process.

RTLS solutions provide data-based insights that are necessary to align staff levels to cyclical needs, manage resources more efficiently, and attain the maximum patient/resident satisfaction through fast response and attention to individual needs. The most advanced of these RTLS solutions are built on ultrasound indoor positioning technology that delivers precise and immediate location and event-based information for any tagged object or badged individual.

Wireless tag and receiver technology provides indoor positioning accuracy (to specific chairs, beds, rooms, or area levels) by seamlessly transmitting and communicating location data to front end visualization and reporting software platforms.

The data generated by these systems allows healthcare facilities to make informed decisions regarding equipment location and staffing levels throughout assisted living facilities that are best suited to deliver a higher level and quality of care. It also yields important insights into many other factors which have tremendous influence on patient and resident health, safety, and satisfaction.

Better aligning staff levels

Before institutions can effectively implement any staffing changes, they need to understand work flow and patterns throughout their facilities.

RTLS can deliver the necessary data to help institutions identify staff patterns by time-stamping personnel related events and locations to triage the durations of their various tasks, among other things. In these ways, such technology provides real-time answers to vital questions including:

  • What daily events cause peaks and valleys in staffing needs?
  • Which staffing levels are required for routine activities such as bathing and meals?
  • How is patient/resident satisfaction impacted by staff capacity?
  • How are staff levels balanced based on when staff is most often with residents (time of day, day of week, etc.)?
  • What are staff response times and the frequency of visits?

With the data provided by integrated RTLS installations, staff and management of assisted living and long-term care facilities can gain valuable insights about workflow, including where additional staffing and equipment is required, and when staff response times are lagging so that they can put actions in place that will benefit both staff and patients/residents.

These insights not only allow them to optimize staffing, increase institutional efficiency and return on investment, but above all help increase staff responsiveness, resident care, and patient safety.

Ensuring resident health and safety

Indoor ultrasound positioning technologies provide immediate and measurable improvements to patient care in many ways. Many benefits can be derived from the analysis of data obtained from such systems, these can include giving staff the ability to call for assistance without leaving a resident’s side, allowing caregivers to quickly view performance metrics, and limiting the impact of outbreaks of flu or other illnesses by monitoring interactions between residents and caregivers.

RTLS can also provide discrete and flexible solutions to assist with situations that are potentially harmful to patients/residents such as patient wandering and access to unauthorized or sensitive areas. Real-time indoor positioning systems help locate individuals who have wandered or entered unauthorized areas by immediately and accurately pinpointing their exact location. This provides institutions the confidence they need to discretely keep patients safe without compromising freedom of movement.

RTLS can contribute to the prevention of any abuse and neglect conditions. Reliable room-level and sub-room level location technology accurately detects residents, staff, visitors, vendors and equipment within the rooms of the facility, which can provide necessary enabling information for security and safety.

Maintaining stakeholder relationships

Naturally, family members take a keen interest in the level and quality of care provided. Recognizing and honoring that, assisted living and long-term care facilities must focus on improving ways to understand the level of care each resident receives and to share that information with family members.

Since RTLS automatically provides specific, time-stamped data associated with unique resident locations and/or tags, the information is always readily available and can be clearly conveyed through reports including visual representations. This enables care providers to produce detailed logs of caregiver attendance and other care metrics to share with family members as well as regulatory agencies.

Satisfaction and consumer ratings

The increased visibility of this information not only delivers peace of mind to family members, but also gives directors and staff the confidence to know that through their hard work and attentiveness they are delivering the best care they can.

Perhaps most important in terms of resident (and family) satisfaction is the potential for RTLS to help improve response times when a resident calls for staff, given that the efficiency of RTLS systems can “create” more time for staff by driving operational efficiencies. So much of a facility’s consumer ratings hinge on this single factor and now assisted living and long term care have a powerful technology for measureable improvement. The reputation of a facility often rests on this, and attracting and retaining residents is key to a financially viable business.

Anne Bugge is the president and CEO at Sonitor Technologies Inc. Sandra Rasmussen is the senior vice president, Global Marketing and American Sales, at Sonitor Technologies.

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Improving Patient Flow

How Can RTLS Benefit the Emergency Department (ED)?

Patient flow measures, including but not limited to, arrival to departure for admitted and discharged patients, decision to admit, door-to-diagnostic evaluation, and “left before being seen”—will soon be among the various clinical quality measures of EDs. In other words, your facility will soon be, if it is not already, reporting ED measures to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). These measures are directly tied to hospital reimbursement and can significantly impact patient satisfaction.

Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) have been a valuable, emerging technology in healthcare for several years now. Traditionally RTLS has been leveraged for asset and equipment tracking and management – but consider the value it could deliver to improving patient flow.

Imagine The Possibilities

Imagine if your ED could eliminate wasted minutes and hours searching and waiting for patients? Or if your staff could automatically be notified that it’s their turn in the process to visit the patient?  Imagine if you could know and be notified exactly when that patient is entering a room? Or if you could immediately and in real time be notified that the patient is now ready for a doctor? Or that the patient is not in their room/bay but has been sent for an MRI and where in the hospital they are physically located? Imagine being able to tell a relative exactly where the patient is if they are not in their room and with accuracy how long they’ve been away.

With Sonitor Sense™ RTLS, there is no need to ‘imagine’ – it’s possible.  Real Time Location Systems are providing hospitals and medical facilities with the ability to accelerate patient flow and shorten patient wait times, without affecting clinical quality, thus improving patient satisfaction. By applying Sonitor® RTLS tags to your facility’s patients, beds, staff, and equipment, you essentially provide your emergency medical staff with access to accurate, bed or bay-level location information, and an overview of patient flow efficiency.

Sonitor Sense RTLS provides unparalleled, accurate, and reliable indoor positioning data. Combining the highest level of accuracy and the fastest update rates the market has to offer, Sonitor’s RTLS can help you track, locate, and manage your patients in real time.

Sonitor Sense RTLS core positioning technology, powered by SmartZoning™ technology, is based on ultrasound which delivers the most consistently accurate and reliable location data. Unlike other technologies used in RTLS (ex. radio frequency and infrared), ultrasound signals are contained by walls, floors, ceilings and even windows and glass partitions. In addition, virtual walls can be easily created to provide sub-room and chair level resolution with up to four distinct zones created with a single device.

As a result, patient flow can easily be monitored and optimized. This can help move patients through the ED more efficiently and ensure that the right patients, staff, and equipment are in the right location at the right time.

Sonitor Sense RTLS can help reduce the time spent searching for patients, staff and equipment, allowing more time for patient care and potentially shortening their time in the ED. These benefits can directly impact patient flow metrics helping to ultimately improve the clinical quality measures of EDs that need to be reported to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

To learn more about Sonitor RTLS, click here.

IT’S BUDGETING SEASON, DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR ASSETS ARE?

With budget season upon us, you and your staff are hard at work putting together your facility’s needs. Decisions on where to invest need to be made. Wouldn’t it be great if your team could provide you with:

  • Utilization data & statistics of all your mobile medical equipment
  • Exact inventory levels in real time
  • Rental vs. owned equipment requirements
  • Equipment downtime

Sonitor Sense ™ RTLS Helps You Manage Your Assets with Ease

Sonitor’s Sense RTLS provides unparalleled, accurate, and reliable indoor positioning data.

Combining the highest level of accuracy and the fastest update rates the market has to offer, Sonitor’s RTLS can help you track, locate, and manage your assets in real time. You can be confident that your technology will be efficient, flexible, scalable, and have an easy deployment. Ultimately, you will witness a proven low cost of ownership over your products life cycle.

Click here to learn more.