In 2021, according to AHA figures, there were 33,356,853 admissions in 6,093 hospitals across the USA representing 920,531 staffed beds. In addition, as of January 19th, 2022, according to ourworldindata.org, USA health centers recorded 154,540 COVID-19 patients in hospitals and 128,589 COVID-19 patients in hospitals were recorded in western Europe. At a time when the quality of hospital care is a major concern for every citizen, an increasing number of hospitals have implemented indoor positioning systems in order to improve the overall patient experience and operational efficiency : from improving the patient itinerary and journey, to flow optimization, staff safety and general hospital performance.
As a result of increased hospitalizations, more and more healthcare workers are overwhelmed and exhausted, Intensive Care Units are close to saturated and hospitals are struggling to deal with the unprecedented patient influx.
To meet these challenges, many hospitals are leveraging indoor geolocation solutions (RTLS and IPS) to:
For example hospitals can optimize patient flow inside buildings and improve the patient journey simply by geolocating patients and helping them get to their next meeting point quickly and easily.
With RTLS, Healthcare workers are now able to locate patients and equipment in real time, drastically reducing waiting lines and freeing up overcrowded waiting rooms while optimizing staff schedules to limit unnecessary over time.
The increase in outpatient care often puts more pressure on staff and can be a bit of a race against time for health workers. In response to the need to both control costs and improve patient experience (less than 12 hours of hospitalization with a quick return at home, light anesthesia), outpatient care has generated new approaches to optimize the patient journey.
« In a world where everything is about time, indoor positioning plays a crucial role to meet the latest healthcare challenges. Optimizing flows and patient itinerary, we can avoid late-arrival or no-show patients, and overcrowded waiting rooms, especially during a pandemic which is already hard on health workers”, states Christian Carle, president of Pole Star.
In hospitals, in and out flows are particularly substantial. Positioning enables to design a specific itinerary for patients or visitors to move around without getting lost or clogging corridors. Consequently patient and visitor flows are optimized along with waiting times and staff working hours. Indoor positioning systems can even help limit access to some areas and therefore further reduce traffic.
All information important for health workers is collected and digitalized (appointments, patient follow-up, user positioning, ID…). The IPS (Indoor Positioning Solution) system also enables to identify and reserve available rooms in the hospital, and share the location with the patient ahead of the appointment.
The IPS system helps patients to find their way whatever their destination or itinerary. On the app, they access a 2D or 3D map of the building.
Patient location also works with a tagged smart wristband. “ Tags emit signals to wall ports. The ports measure the signal position and send the measurements to servers which then calculate in real-time the location of the patient” explains Jean Baptiste Prost, general deputy director of Pole Star. This tool is essential to visualize patient itinerary and location to find lost patients, for example.
Recent studies show that a health worker can spend up to 40 hours per month (i.e. more than a week) looking for medical equipment (wheel chair, stretcher, syringe pumps, mobile medical equipment…). In addition, lost or stolen equipment significantly impact hospital budgets.
The IPS tag system installed on medical equipment and connected to the app via Bluetooth enables health workers to locate the closest available equipment in real time. Health workers can then optimize their time and management can reduce equipment purchase expenses.
Health workers often have to deal with rudeness (or even physical assault), and 90% of the time from patients. In 2018, 23.000 cases of violence were recorded in French hospitals. The localized emergency signal system guarantees staff safety. In case of assault, the system launches an automatic alert signal and reports the location either to the security staff or to the closest colleagues via a tagged wristband or the mobile app.
Indoor positioning solutions offer innovative opportunities to improve patient comfort and peace of mind across the entire care process. Each patient can now look at the interactive map of the hospital, obtain an itinerary and follow directions autonomously. Health workers can access fully digitalized patient follow-up. In addition to locating medical equipment, real-time location helps health workers save precious time that can be dedicated to patients while optimizing the budget for medical equipment. ROI, patient follow-up, flow optimization, time saved and patient itinerary improvement are only a few of the advantages provided by the Pole Star solution!