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Health-Care Provider Survey Quantifies RTLS Uptake, Interest

A new study from KLAS Research shows that about one-third of tech-savvy health-care organizations currently use real-time location systems, but that more than half are completely unfamiliar with RTLS solutions.
By Beth Bacheldor
Feb 16, 2009About a third of IT-savvy health-care organizations are currently employing real-time location systems (RTLS) to track assets and patients, according to a new study on RTLS use in the United States conducted by KLAS Research, a market and vendor research firm focusing on health care. KLAS estimates, however, that only 5 percent of all U.S. health-care organizations have adopted the technology to date.

During the past six months, the research firm surveyed 122 health-care organizations that it identified as companies progressive in their use of information technology. Steve Van Wagenen, a research director with KLAS who led the research effort, says 35 of respondents (29 percent) indicated they currently use some sort of RTLS system. Of that group, he notes, most are utilizing real-time location systems in a pilot or department-specific application, while only three respondents said their company was performing enterprise-wide tracking. The surveys were conducted via telephone.

What the survey findings reveal, Van Wagenen says, is that RTLS vendors need to spend more time educating the market and showing hospitals how real-time location systems can benefit them. "It still needs to be proven in the minds of many providers," he states.

Broader—but less formal—research, in which KLAS studied reports from vendors and the media regarding RTLS use and revenue, indicates RTLS adoption in the health-care sector overall is even lower, Van Wagenen says, at less than 5 percent of U.S. health-care organizations.

"We wanted to create a reality check and be a resource to health-care providers that want to utilize this technology but aren't really sure where to start," Van Wagenen says of the study. "The number of organizations that was actually doing something was kind of surprising. There seems to be a lack of information and lack of awareness about who the vendors are and what is going on."

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