Infinite Leap: Shaun, can you share with us your journey with Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS)?
Shaun Erickson: I was hired in 2013 to help OU Medical Center deploy a Real-Time Location Solution for asset locating. I was responsible for exploring viable options and creating ROI models. By the end of 2013 we selected an RTLS solution and in early fall of 2014 we went live with the system across six campuses. As the Project Manager for an enterprise install of an asset tracking system, I managed planning and coordination with local and non-local contractors and the facilities team to install a $2.5 million system.
Infinite Leap: What was the main goal for deploying the RTLS solution?
Shaun Erickson: By deploying an RTLS solution for asset tracking we were aiming to give nurses time back by not having to search for medical equipment. Our goal was also to reduce our equipment purchases and rentals through a more efficient use of assets we already had.
Infinite Leap: Who drove the RTLS initiative in your organization?
Shaun Erickson: Our Executive Leadership drove the RTLS initiative. This was very critical for getting the right mindshare and resources to support this project. By having executive support, I was able to quickly remove any roadblocks along the way. We were able to launch the system six months early and under budget.
Infinite Leap: Did you go live across your entire system or in phases?
Shaun Erickson: We divided our RTLS implementation into two major phases. Phase one included installation of the RTLS infrastructure, which we did one building at a time. Our second phase included the RTLS software implementation, which we did enterprise-wide. However, before going live, we tested it in one of our facilities to ensure everything worked as planned.
Infinite Leap: Are you still involved with the RTLS system?
Shaun Erickson: Absolutely – I am the administrator of the RTLS system and in my role as the Director of Asset Management I leverage RTLS data to provide recommendations to upper management regarding equipment acquisitions. This led to cost reduction in rental and equipment purchase.
Infinite Leap: Can you please explain how RTLS helps your organization with rental and equipment purchase reduction?
Shaun Erickson: We now have good visibility into what equipment we have available and where is it located so staff can find it more quickly. This eliminated the problem of equipment hoarding, since staff knows they will find what they need, when they need it. Better visibility also helped with achieving higher utilization of the assets we have, especially when we paired it with PAR level management. As a result, we were able to decrease rentals by 59% since 2013. The RTLS system also allows us to go back and look at asset utilization rates for any equipment type so we can understand our needs and ensure new equipment is purchased when it is justified.
Infinite Leap: That’s a very good point – asset tracking helps you gain time savings, but to accomplish a hard dollar savings you need to use the RTLS system for your asset management processes, not just for finding equipment. Do you tag all your mobile equipment?
Shaun Erickson: We were very strategic in deciding what to tag. Due to the relatively high cost of tags and batteries and the associated labor cost of entering the asset information into the RTLS system, we decided to only tag mobile equipment with a value of $1,600 or higher. We also tagged asset types with a high probability of “walking out” from the facility, such as wheelchairs.
Infinite Leap: Are you planning to expand the use of your RTLS system to other use cases?
Shaun Erickson: Yes, this is a natural progression. We are planning to expand the use of the system to patient flow and temperature monitoring.
Infinite Leap: Starting with an RTLS system for asset tracking and asset management is a smart choice. We find that once staff experience all the benefits of having an RTLS system in place, moving to use cases which require using a locating badge on patients and staff does not bring any anxiety. What is even more exciting is when we see staff eager to leverage the system to enhance other processes in their organization. What is your advice for organizations just starting with RTLS systems?
Shaun Erickson: Pick an experienced partner. They bring a lot of learning from past implementations and can guide you on how to avoid common mistakes when starting with an RTLS system. In addition, don’t put the management of an RTLS system on the shoulders of the Bio-Med team – they are busy enough. Instead, create a role that will be fully dedicated to the RTLS system. This will ensure that there is a proper focus on system adoption, maintenance, and, most importantly, using the RTLS system to help make the hospital more profitable.
Infinite Leap: What skill set is required from the person in charge of managing an RTLS system?
Shaun Erickson: That person needs to have great time-management skills. There are so many moving parts in managing an RTLS system that you need to have a good handle on what needs to be done and when. It also makes things easier if they are tech-savvy. Most important is their ability to talk to everybody in the organization, from a person on the floor who needs tips on how to use the system to an executive who wants to know what results the system delivers.
Infinite Leap: I agree. An RTLS system owner who can communicate across departments is also better able to implement process changes that need to take place. In closing, as we are building our RTLS Community, can you please share with us some of your personal interests?
Shaun Erickson: When I served in the military I was working on airplanes, and I carry my passion for airplanes even now, when I am in active reserve. As a father of four, I also enjoy watching my kids’ sports activities, including hockey, soccer, and volleyball.
Infinite Leap: Shaun, thank you for sharing your RTLS experiences with our community – it was a pleasure hearing your RTLS story.
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