Hospitals & Healthcare
What is a Patient Tracking System?
A patient tracking system is really exactly as it sounds. It is a system to monitor patient movements throughout their time in the hospital. Over the years there have been many different ways clinicians track their patients, including pen and paper, spreadsheets, and now with the use of RFID technology and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The process of tracking patients has evolved immensely and for good reason. Spreadsheets that contain large volumes of information can quickly get convoluted when shared with multiple staff members and leaves too much room for error.
With the overwhelming demand on healthcare systems, it has become increasingly important to implement a patient tracking system that can reduce physicians’ workload and provide a safer hospital environment for patients. Large hospitals need additional resources that can assist in the proper care of patients from admittance to discharge.
Most commonly, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and IoT technology are in use in a smart hospital environment. RFID tags are worn by patients and monitored by healthcare providers who can track the real-time status and location of each patient as well as access a digital directory of their health records. These tags are often in hospital bracelets or worn around the neck on a lanyard.
This blog post will discuss why an IoT patient tracking system is vital in reshaping the level of care healthcare institutions can provide.
Why Is Patient Tracking Important?
There are multiple reasons why it is important for hospitals use an efficient patient tracking system. Advances in technology have improved so many outdated processes. This is no exception to the healthcare industry where IoT technology is in use to assist in patient tracking.
The Importance of Patient Tracking
Doctors and hospital staff. Patient tracking can dramatically reduce workflow errors and improve communications between staff. Utilizing a patient tracking system can organize and track the patient’s progress and medical history creating an immediate database at the physician’s disposal. Tracking tools can also provide deep insight into how processes actually work and where bottlenecks occur.
Family members and caretakers. Patient tracking capabilities can extend beyond hospital use and into the hands of loved ones. A patient monitor app can notify family of a patient’s movements and alert them when an emergency situation occurs such as a fall or even missed appointments.
Benefits of Patient Tracking Software
Everyone who uses patient tracking software will experience numerous direct and indirect benefits. Patient tracking systems will improve a hospital’s day-to-day operations as well as the overall patient experience. See a few examples below in further detail.
Benefits of Patient Tracking in Hospitals.
- Locate patients. The real-time location of patients can be monitored in case of high-risk patients such as those with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- Centralize medical records. Medical history, appointments, surgeons, doctors and nurses for each patient will be available and updates will happen in real time for immediate transparency.
- Reduce wait time for patients. Having a patient tracking system in place optimizes the operation of healthcare centers, allowing them to serve a higher volume of patients in a given time.
- Increase patient and visitor satisfaction. This tool will notify patients of upcoming appointments, while physicians can check patients’ medical records and follow up accordingly. Visitors can be informed of the status of their family members’ care or their own wait times for appointments.
- Predict patient flow and admission rates. Over time, the collection of RFID data from each patient will allow healthcare providers to create models to predict the necessary medication, equipment and PPE to improve service and reduce wasted resources.
- Alert hospital staff of emergency situations. RFID technology can notify staff when a patient has an abrupt fall. This can increase response time to help the patient in need and bring attention to slippery floors or areas that may need more grab bars.
- Efficient bed management. Patient tracking software gives nurses the ability to visualize beds available as patients leave. Oftentimes patients leave and their absence is not accounted for, leaving underutilized space.
- Accountability. Patient tracking leaves a trail of data to hold staff accountable for their actions.
- Support claims. Similarly, patient tracking systems can provide evidence. They can support hospitals in deciding whether the claim is valid or not.
- Improve decision-making. All data from the tracking system can be used by hospital staff to get a complete overview of the hospital’s inner processes. From there, staff can decide what task needs to be completed based on the data they receive.
- Optimize cleaning. Cleaning staff can be notified when a patient leaves and can clean the room immediately.
How to Create the Best Patient Tracking System for Your Hospital
Implementing a hospital patient tracking system is best through existing tracking system software. These days, a simple excel spreadsheet for tracking patient information is unacceptable (unless you are a private office with only a few patients).
To provide the most efficient care possible, you must start looking for a hospital tracking system that can integrate seamlessly with your existing software. It should also be able to scale effortlessly to accommodate the demand of new patients.
A mobile app is a great way to ensure information is available cross-platform and on the go. Doctors can have instant access to medical records and patient locations on their phones, while nurses can streamline their workflow when they have direct visibility of patient movements.
Family and caretakers can also use a patient tracking app to keep watch on family members. This empowers patients and visitors to continue to engage with their care.
Best Technology to Implement a Patient Tracking System in a Hospital
The most comprehensive hospital tracking systems use RFID and IoT technology because it creates a direct line of communication between staff and patients. Mapsted is a location-based service company offering an innovative tracking solution known as Boost. This technology works similarly to RFID but without the need for multiple RFID readers, reducing installation and hardware costs. To expand on this further, a facility only needs one Mapsted Boost device per 10,000 square feet to provide complete coverage of an area.
The Mapsted tag – or Badge – patients would wear has an SOS button for hospital staff to use when they need immediate assistance with a patient. For example, this feature enhances the security and safety of staff working late night shifts in the ER.
Large healthcare institutions partnering with an expert like Mapsted will reach the goals and requirements of the hospital. Having a partner with experience helps with the successful adoption of the product while allowing room for customization on an enterprise level.
Implementing a patient tracking system is a necessary improvement to the healthcare standard. The best healthcare requires innovative solutions that can streamline and optimize care. Smart patient tracking gives better visibility to the hospital staff and family members, improves patient safety and helps identify any gaps or areas of concern in everyday processes.
To summarize, a patient tracking system can improve clinical decisions, support medical claims, reduce errors, improve quality of care, increase practice efficiency, improve patient communication and satisfaction and assist in decreasing costs by reducing errors and accessing a centralized medical database.
This technology can put a healthcare institution leaps and bounds ahead of other healthcare providers and hopefully propel others to follow suit.
If you would like to learn more about patient tracking systems, contact a Mapsted representative to discuss a personalized solution for your hospital needs.
For more location-based information, you might wish to check out these blogs: What Is Location Intelligence and How Can It Be Used in Business? and Facility Management Technology Trends in 2023.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is patient tracking?
A: Patients’ movements are tracked with RFID and IoT technology to identify the real-time location of the patient. This is especially useful in the case of wandering patients with dementia and Alzheimers.
Q: What is patient movement?
A: Patient movement is how a patient moves throughout the hospital environment. An example could be moving from a doctor’s office to a medical imaging room.
Q: What is a patient flow chart?
A: A patient flow chart tracks the movement of patients coming in and out of the hospital. It helps with communication between staff from the process of admission to discharge.
Q: How is patient flow measured?
A: Overall hospital throughput; hospital performance; and unit performance.
Q: Why is patient throughput important?
A: Patient throughput allows for the efficient flow of patients through the hospital. It contributes to ensuring timely and appropriate care.