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Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Uses RTLS to Manage Assets, People, Hygiene

The organization has implemented a single system that manages patient flow, staff movements, assets and hand hygiene, via CenTrak hardware and Awarepoint software.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 28, 2012The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Trust, located in England, is employing real-time location system (RTLS) software provided by Awarepoint to manage three different functions throughout its facility: tracking the movements of patients and staff members, managing the locations of tagged assets, and ensuring hand-hygiene compliance. Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals is utilizing CenTrak's RTLS hardware, consisting of "Gen2IR" RFID-infrared (IR) battery-powered tags, monitors (devices that transmit an infrared pulse pattern containing a unique location code), "Virtual Wall monitors" (a type of monitor with a more tightly defined IR transmission zone, thereby providing greater location granularity) and RFID access points. The system also includes software from Awarepoint's RTLS platform, known as the aware360°Suite, to store and manage data culled from the tag reads. Based on the proven functionality of this installation, the company reports, the aware360°Suite platform was commercially released at last week's HIMSS12 conference.

Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals, an 800-bed facility, has completed the first phase of its RTLS deployment, consisting of using the CenTrak tags to track 550 patients simultaneously within 21 wards, with plans to add several additional wards and 250 more patient beds later this year. The hospital declined to comment for this story.

Britain's NHS oversees hospitals throughout the country—a total of 168 different trusts, each representing a particular region of the United Kingdom. The agency has been seeking RTLS technology to improve patient flow and track assets and hand-washing compliance, and wanted a single platform that could accomplish all three objectives. NHS approached Awarepoint—which offers software for each of those applications—and requested a single solution on which all data could be managed and integrated with the hospital's existing software, using RTLS tags and readers, as well as CenTrak display screens. NHS selected Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals as the first hospital trust in which to install the solution. The facility—which is more than a century old and includes 38 buildings on one campus—serves approximately 880,000 patients annually.

For phase one of the installation, the hospital trust wanted a system that could track patients as they are registered, moved through various wards and then discharged. By tracking where patients have been, the facility could then better direct staff members as to which services each patient requires next—for example, if he or she has been to radiology, the software could then inform workers where that patient needs to be moved to next. The system needed to track employees as well, says Tony Marsico, Awarepoint's executive VP of global business development, so that managers could know which patients a nurse or clinician had visited, as well as where and for how long, thereby providing greater visibility into which services the patients were receiving.

The system also includes the ability to track hand hygiene, with CenTrak Gen2IR monitors and Virtual Wall monitors installed near hand-washing stations. When a staff member approaches a station and presses the dispenser, that action is linked to the individual's unique ID number, and is then stored in the software. If the worker approaches a new patient after seeing another one, without first washing his or her hands, the system will record that incident, and management can later use that information to provide further training to those staff members who need it.

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