RTLS necessitates proper infrastructure planning

Real-time location systems, like other forms of RFID technology, are great for keeping tabs on the types of high-value assets that hospitals buy in bulk. Think computers-on-wheels, diagnostic devices and surgical tools.

And though the technology can be expensive, it's important to make the proper infrastructure investments to assure that an RTLS system can provide coverage throughout a facility and is accurate enough to meet each institution's unique requirements.

"Make sure to find out what the facility's pain points are and who the right constituents are to establish use cases and the right location accuracy," Valerie Fritz, senior VP of marketing for RTLS vendor Awarepoint, says in For The Record. Fritz recommends that RTLS in healthcare facilities be accurate to room level at a minimum and not settle for zone-level accuracy if that's all an existing Wi-Fi network can handle. But a locator system doesn't necessarily have to rely on Wi-Fi.

"[You] also need to understand the ongoing maintenance and calibration requirements as well," Fritz says. "What does it mean to IT, and how can it affect the already cumbersome burden of maintaining the IT structure?"

Steve Miller, sales VP at another vendor, Radiant Networks, suggests that an RTLS implementation might be a catalyst for network upgrades. "If you look at the baseline of most customers, typically we find they built their wireless network several years ago. The challenge is that most have designed their networks for applications that existed two or more years ago," he says. 

"It's important to take a look at the type of applications that are running. RTLS has a different design; the network needs to be designed to be 'location ready' and have the architecture to support it," Miller adds.

For more advice on planning a RTLS implementation:
- take a look at this For The Record feature