Location-Aware Technologies Enhance Patient Care

January 1, 2019 by Chris Wiegand
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As hospitals strive to improve patient care delivery, healthcare providers, health delivery network IT, and clinical leadership teams are all looking toward location-aware technologies to help develop and deliver a Real-Time Healthcare System (RTHS) to improve efficiency across the continuum of care.

Through the convergence of information and operational technologies with the Internet of Things for healthcare providers, hospital staff and treatment personnel now have the ability to deliver a more efficient service. These innovative technologies allow healthcare delivery professionals to reduce redundancies and latency by optimizing workflows and business processes, providing key insight to balance resources with demand.

The ability to track a patient's entire journey, from home through a hospital visit, is a vital Real-Time Healthcare System technology. Combining Patient Positive Identification (PPID), originally limited to scanning a barcode on a patient or their medication using a handheld device, and patient-tracking, hospitals can radically enhance patient care.

Improving patient check-in processes

Using location-aware technologies combined with mobile devices, indoor maps, and smart wrist bands or tags, hospitals can identify a patient from the moment they enter the hospital, and track them throughout the entire continuum of care.

Let's take Joe, for example. Joe has an appointment for an eye consult today at 3:00 pm. As he enters the patient admission area at 2:30 pm, he is also entering a geo-fenced area, where location-aware objects recognize his phone signature and, with his consent, tag him as present and notify relevant staff of his arrival. This reduces Joe's queueing time and disruptions to already very busy hospital staff significantly.

What’s more, if Joe prefers to check in using his mobile device, his patient record can be made available to staff, including notifications of behavioral and medical issues they should be aware of, allowing them to prepare for Joe's visit accordingly.

Monitoring patient movement and activity

Once admitted, location-aware technologies and wayfinding software combine to track a patient's movement within the hospital. For instance, if a patient wanders into a restricted area, an alert is sent to the nursing staff indicating the location of the patient on a digital indoor map.

The technology can also improve scheduling for different procedures and treatments, reducing waiting times and increasing staff efficiency at the same time. For instance, a patient waiting for a consultation is notified that there is a slot open for a flu shot. They have the option of taking the available flu shot time slot instead of sitting in the waiting room.

Smart tags can store the patient’s entire moving history, enabling better patient security and more privacy, as general surveillance can be replaced with personalized automated communications. The data collected is essential to helping hospital managers improve patient flows and caregiver workflows, ensuring better patient care and better resource management.

The technology behind it

Internet-enabled smart objects use these technologies to interact with software and mobile applications, which use data to deliver a more personalized experience based on a patient’s specific wants and needs at any given time. 

Patient tracking is just one of the ways in which healthcare facilities can ensure that the patient’s needs are met with promptitude and efficiency, guaranteeing a highly qualitative care. To successfully operate as a Real-Time Healthcare System, hospitals will need to expand their use of location- and condition-sensing technologies. Some hospitals have some components of these systems in place – secure texting, proximity messaging, wireless healthcare asset tracking, bed management, etc – but need the technology to bring it all together.

Download the white paper below to learn more about how experiential wayfinding can enhance the hospital experience.

Updated January 1, 2019: This post was originally published on November 11th, 2015, and has been updated to provide more information and reflect industry progression.

With a track record of success in both business growth and business transformation, Chris Wiegand has dedicated his career to discovering and creating business opportunities that address real-world needs. In 2009, Chris co-founded indoor mapping company Jibestream, and led its incredible growth from an idea to a globally recognized leader in the indoor mapping space. Chris joined the Inpixon team in 2019 with Inpixon’s acquisition of Jibestream, where he continues to be a leading voice in the indoor intelligence space, driving success for the company’s indoor intelligence solutions.