Tagging assets in 2020

Jan. 27, 2015

What do four RTLS executives foresee about their tagging technology’s reach and utility five years from now?

Barry Cobbley, Director of Sales Engineering, Versus Technology

Barry Cobbley, Director of Sales Engineering, Versus Technology

We are already seeing a continued increase in not only the number of healthcare organizations implementing RTLS, but also in the use of the technology in more meaningful ways. There’s an increasing level of education in the marketplace about what RTLS can do – a realization that it’s more than about basic locating; it’s about workflow management and process improvement. Hospitals are now, and will continue, moving beyond asset tracking and use RTLS to monitor and manage complex workflows. Also, the technology is expanding into different areas of healthcare. Not only hospitals, but outpatient clinics, primary care and eye care practices, just to name a few, are implementing RTLS to help with process improvement. RTLS is helping improve patient flow, giving these practices the ability to increase patient volume and provide more access to care. With millions of new patients entering the front doors of physician offices and emergency departments as a result of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare must turn to efficiency tools like RTLS. As we approach 2020, this type of RTLS use will move from the bleeding edge to the mainstream.

Joel Cook, Senior Director of Healthcare Solutions, Stanley Healthcare

Joel Cook, Senior Director of Healthcare Solutions, Stanley Healthcare

The most exciting part about the future of RTLS really goes beyond the technology – it’s about how extensively empowered healthcare professionals are going to become. The business intelligence and predictive analytics capabilities associated with RTLS will open entirely new windows of visibility within healthcare organizations, providing them a level of knowledge and insight that’s never been accessible before. Productivity and efficiency is just the starting point. By having both real-time and historical information about the movement, status and conditions that are occurring 24/7 throughout the facility, we’re going to see significant advancements in the quality of care by enabling healthcare professionals to predict conditions before they ever occur – thereby permitting them to focus on patient care, better clinical and financial outcomes, and enhanced patient experience and staff satisfaction.

Adam Peck, Director of Marketing, CenTrak

Adam Peck, Director of Marketing, CenTrak

As RTLS matures from addressing simple asset tracking use cases to a clinical visibility infrastructure, new applications utilizing location awareness will be woven into operations. In the future, RTLS will support the orchestration of care throughout the clinical enterprise. It will streamline processes, make more efficient use of scarce resources, both human and capital, will improve clinical quality while reducing preventable errors, and will integrate with existing information systems to share data across a wider range of users.

Matt Perkins, Chief Technical Officer, Awarepoint

Matt Perkins, Chief Technical Officer, Awarepoint

Today, the industry is so focused on debating the merits of various technology approaches that it’s largely missing the point. The key consideration should be evaluating RTLS platforms that can grow as different technologies are invented or realized. The healthcare community really hasn’t embraced RTLS beyond basic locating and tracking, but a few organizations are impacting a wide range of operational efficiency and customer satisfaction goals. The power of this technology in the future has great potential to positively impact many components of patient and family satisfaction with its ability to create a seamless patient experience.

It is absolutely critical to choose a platform that can grow with new technology developments and new requirements, especially when considering integration with other health systems. You will need to incorporate lots of different technologies, whether they be ZigBee, Bluetooth low energy or traditional RFID – passive or active – because there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In the next five years, the RTLS platforms that cannot accommodate those various inputs are not going to meet the needs of the end users and will ultimately filter themselves out of the market. I envision a future where intelligent RTLS technology converges to address a wide range of commercial, clinical, personal and family needs through location-driven context awareness.

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