RFID and RTLS getting ‘dominated’ by MU
September 11, 2013 in Medical Technology
A visit to the Intelligent Hospital Pavilion at the HIMSS Annual Conference Exhibition can sometimes seem like a visit to Disney’s Tomorrowland.
For someone from, say, a small and rural hospital, all the stuff being tracked and measured via radio-frequency identification chips, real-time locating systems and assorted other wireless technology must look like a vision of the future.
But RFID and RTLS exist in the here-and-now. Still, despite the benefits these tools hold for asset and patient tracking, the impacts they can have on cost-savings and hospital safety, the future is where they’re going to stay, for the most part – at least for the time being.
The numbers are clear. Hospitals just aren’t making use of this stuff yet. According to HIMSS Analytics, 79.94 percent of hospitals aren’t automated with asset tracking technology and have no plans to do so; just 0.82 percent of facilities have plans to install it in the near future. As for RTLS, the numbers are even more dramatic: 92.84 percent of hospitals don’t have it and don’t plan to; just 0.56 percent are thinking of trying it out.
Those that have tried it have liked what it’s enabled them to do. As KLAS analyst Steve Van Wagenen said about a 2011 report on the subject, “Providers using RTLS solutions reported finding success when automating the monitoring of refrigerator temperatures; tracking assets, patients or staff members; assessing hand-hygiene compliance; and engaging in a variety of other uses.”
Still, he said, “Not all RTLS deployments are created equal. Much of a facility’s success with RTLS depends on the breadth of the deployment, the variety of ways RTLS is being used and the level of integration between RTLS and other solutions.”
For now, though, that point is academic, since so few hospitals are ignoring wireless tracking as more pressing projects compete for their time and resources.
“It’s getting dominated by meaningful use,” says John Hoyt, executive vice president of HIMSS Analytics. “There’s just no activity.”
Sure, there are lots of case studies where real-time tracking is shown to “reduce the number of hardware products that hospitals have to have, such as IV pumps, because they’re not stuffed in nursing closets,” he says. “I believe the case studies. But I just think the message is loud and clear: People are not buying it right now because they’ve got money to earn on other things” – meaningful use incentives – “and they’re just not paying attention to this one.”
When might they start? “I think we’re beyond 2015 for that.”