Outside of certain circles, like IT and Supply Chain, terms and acronyms like RTLS and actionable intelligence can sound like a whole new language. The common questions (and answers) listed below are our attempt to help you translate.
Are you an RTLS company?
RTLS is a great source for automatically-collected, real-time data, and it’s an important source of data for our platform and our apps. Some people do consider the phrase “RTLS” as the best description for the applications that are enabled by real-time information, but we prefer to think of RTLS as a technology that provides a source of important real-time data. RTLS is an input into real-time operational intelligence, an input into apps like inventory optimization, shrinkage management, rentals management, ambulatory workflow, etc. But there are other important inputs as well, including RFID, temperature sensors, computerized maintenance management systems, EHRs, financial systems, building systems, nurse call systems, medical devices, etc., so we are much more than RTLS company.
Do you manufacture RTLS hardware?
We are purely an enterprise software company—we don’t have any of our own hardware. We are able to work with whichever hardware your hospital has, or whichever hardware makes the best sense for your buildings, your use cases, and your budget.
Can you recommend the best RTLS hardware technology?
We can work with every RFID and RTLS technology, and we have customers using almost every technology currently available, including Wi-Fi, ZigBee, infrared, ultrasound, passive RFID, and other proprietary RF technologies. The “who is best” answer depends entirely on your particular use case requirements, your facility, your long-term plans, and your budget. We would be happy to work with you to provide our analysis of the pros/cons of each technology as applied to your particular requirements and use cases.
Do I have to purchase RTLS hardware to utilize your solution?
You don’t necessarily need RTLS to get started with our solution. Our platform collects data from multiple data sources, and a few of our apps can provide high-impact value-added information without the need for an RTLS data source.
What is the typical ROI on your solution?
For each of our apps, we identify their impact areas, including financial, quality, regulatory compliance, and satisfaction. For each app and each impact area, we’ll identify one or two KPIs, then calculate the potential ROI (and whether it’s a hard-dollar ROI or soft dollar ROI), then monitor the KPIs and actual ROI over time. For asset management, the ROI varies by the type and number of assets being tracked (typically, the more assets tracked, the higher the ROI!), and hard-dollar time-to-payback can vary between 1 to 3 years. For patient flow, the ROI depends on our current baseline performance. If you are interested in what your ROI might be, please contact us to set up a meeting to discuss your healthcare system’s interests, objectives, current state, and potential opportunities.
Who do you integrate with?
In addition to working with any RTLS, we integrate with EHRs, nurse call systems, building systems, security systems, clinical engineering systems, communication systems, mobility solutions, patient transport solutions, medical device connectivity solutions, etc. If we don’t currently integrate with a specific system that your organization has –our enterprise platform architecture makes such an integration straightforward.
What is RTLS?
RTLS stands for “real-time location systems,” and includes any solution that provides continuous, real-time location data for the location of tracked items. RTLS requires tracking hardware, which consists of battery-powered RTLS tags plus an installed sensory network to track the location of those RTLS tags. There are many technologies that can (and have) been used for real-time tracking, including Wi-Fi, ZigBee, infrared, ultrasound, Bluetooth, ultrawideband, and active and passive RFID. RTLS is a great source of real-time data, but it’s just one of many real-time, automatically-collected data sources that we are able to leverage with our platform.
Is RTLS the same as RFID?
The term RFID became widely known in the early 2000s, given the push by WalMart and the DoD, and typically refers to “passive RFID.” RFID stands for “radio frequency ID,” and was originally envisioned as a replacement for barcoding. Whereas barcodes require line-of-site, RFID tags can be picked up as long as they are within range of their passive RFID reader. We consider RFID to be a subset of RTLS. Whereas RFID relies upon RF (radio) waves, RTLS can include any location technology, such as ultrasound or infrared. And even though we view RFID as a subset of RTLS, a key distinction is that passive RFID implementations are NOT real-time—you only know the location of a passive RFID tag when it is “read” by a passive RFID reader. True RTLS technologies, on the other hand, are proactively reporting their locations in real-time.