Infinite Leap: Neil, can you share with us your journey with Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS)?
Neil Patel: Our organization started using an RTLS system for asset tracking back in 2010. I joined the Vidant Medical Center in 2012, as an Administrative Resident and later as a Project Manager for Hospital Operations and that’s how I got introduced to RTLS. Since that time, I’ve overseen the use of RTLS in our healthcare system, including building out additional use cases for the use of location services.
Infinite Leap: Can you explain where your organization started with the use of RTLS?
Neil Patel: We started, like most hospitals, with tracking our mobile medical equipment, specifically IV pumps. Then we moved to more advanced use cases, such as setting up alerts for dirty equipment sitting in soiled utility rooms. This allowed us to proactively respond to the need of retrieving equipment that required cleaning. We stopped having to do rounding several times a day, which saved staff time as real-time notifications allowed us to know precisely when and where we needed to pick up the equipment. But even more importantly it enabled us to cycle back the equipment faster as we eliminated the non-value added time – when dirty equipment was sitting idle in the soiled utility room waiting for the next rounding. As a result, we increased our equipment utilization rates, so important with high-value assets, and we made our nurses happy as the availability of clean equipment increased.
Infinite Leap: What was the next RTLS-enabled use case that you implemented?
Neil Patel: The next use case, which was implemented in 2015, was the integration of real-time location data with our nurse call system. It was important for us to understand the responsiveness of our patient care team, so enriching our call bell system with real-time data, was simply put – a necessity.
Infinite Leap: What came next?
Neil Patel: In 2016 we were ready to take RTLS to the next level. We engaged Infinite Leap and started with the Solution Design process. As result, we identified over 89 RTLS-enabled use cases, we prioritized them, and created a detailed execution plan. Our first project involved patient flow use case in the OR department. We integrated RTLS with our EHR system – Epic, and we introduced real-time digital boards – both to our clinical staff and patient families.
Infinite Leap: How can healthcare systems ensure to properly deploy Location-Based Services?
Neil Patel: I think the secret is in understanding that Location-Based Services is not just about technology. Technology is just an aid. Of course, you have to understand the technology – with all its capabilities and limitations, but what is more important is to know why you want to deploy RTLS in the first place. What processes can you impact with it, what is the proper order of implementing use cases to leverage the investment you are making and will need to make in the future to really reap the benefits of this initiative.
Infinite Leap: And what is your advice for hospitals just starting with RTLS?
Neil Patel: My advice is to plan before you jump into RTLS projects. It is not so difficult to implement RTLS for asset location, however you need to look beyond asset tracking at the very beginning of your RTLS journey. Leverage expert advice to help you design this journey and to future-proof it. You also need to properly resource it – keeping in mind that it is not just a one-time project but a strategic program.
Infinite Leap: Neil – As we are building our Community, can you please share with us some of your personal interests?
Neil Patel: My personal interests include traveling, spending time with family and friends, and trying new experiences.
If you would like to share your thoughts and best practices on RTLS, drop me a note – I’d love to chat with you to capture your experiences. www.linkedin.com/in/joannawyganowska