Navy wants RTLS for all its hospitals and clinics

The Navy Bureau of Medicine is taking bids for a real-time location system (RTLS) that can track up to 300,000 pieces of medical equipment at 19 Navy hospitals and hundreds of medical clinics worldwide, according to Nextgov. The deadline for the bids is Aug. 1.

The Navy said it wants to use RTLS to track equipment such as vital-sign monitors, infusion pumps, drugs, oxygen systems, and ultrasound machines within a 10-foot radius to facilitate inventory management. Down the line, it may use RTLS--which combines computer-chip tags on equipment or personnel with wireless communications--to track surgical instrument trays. The Navy facilities may also employ RTLS tags to track staff and patients.

The Veterans Administration will also start using RTLS to track hospital equipment, as FierceHealthIT reported today. 

In contrast, nongovernmental hospitals are starting to employ RTLS for staff tracking, a recent KLAS survey found. The Orem, Utah-based research firm said that RTLS tags are being used to measure patient wait times, ensure that staffers wash their hands between patient contacts, and reduce the amount of distance that nurses have to walk in the hospital.

More commonly, however, hospitals are deploying RTLS to locate equipment. KLAS said that 75 percent of hospitals with RTLS found that it improved equipment utilization and staff efficiency. Other benefits of RTLS cited by respondents included better documentation (19 percent), improved alerts and reporting (19 percent), and saving time by quickly finding assets (11 percent).

Overall, 10 to 15 percent of hospitals are now using RTLS, KLAS reported.

To learn more:
- read Nextgov's piece about the Navy's plan to use RTLS
- see this earlier Nextgov article about the VA deployment of RTLS

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