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New Cross Hospital Boosts Hand Hygiene, Efficiency via RTLS

The British medical facility has deployed a solution, provided by TeleTracking and CenTrak, to track the location and status of assets, patients and personnel.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 25, 2014

Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust's New Cross Hospital, located in England's West Midlands county, has spent several years focused on improving patient safety and health through technology, as well as on education and standards-setting. The hospital's SafeHands program targets hand hygiene, patient and staff management, and asset tracking. To help accomplish these goals, New Cross has installed an RFID-based solution that monitors hand-hygiene compliance. The solution, provided by Pittsburgh-based real-time location system (RTLS) and software company TeleTracking, also enables the hospital to monitor the locations of assets, patients and staff members, thereby providing a better and safer overall environment for patients, says Clare Nash, a registered nurse who works at the hospital and serves as its SafeHands program manager.

New Cross Hospital has put into service approximately 750 RTLS wristbands to date, for use by patients, as well as 4,000 RTLS badges for employees and 1,226 asset tags.

A CenTrak IR module installed on the ceiling near each patient's bed transmits a unique ID number that the RTLS software uses to determine the locations of New Cross patients and personnel wearing CenTrak wristbands and badges.
The hospital's original reason for adopting an RTLS was to boost hand-hygiene compliance, Nash says, but once it began considering the technology's cost—prior to installation—it began examining other ways in which the system could be used. Nash says management determined that asset tracking would provide immediate benefit. In addition, she notes, employing the technology to monitor the locations of patients and workers would ensure the efficiency of services provided to patients, as well as the prompt clearing of vacated patient rooms. It would also create a record of who was within range of whom in the event of a communicable disease, such as norovirus, and enable the hospital to better understand patient dependency, by analyzing staff time at bedsides.

In February 2013, after reviewing and piloting another RTLS software solution, in conjunction with CenTrak RTLS hardware, New Cross selected TeleTracking's software platform. The CenTrak technology utilizes the hybrid combination of infrared (IR) and RFID technologies to pinpoint the location of a tag or badge specific to a particular room—or, in some cases, to a given patient bed. The system consists of CenTrak's battery-operated IR modules (the size of a smoke detector) attached to the ceiling or wall. Each module transmits an IR signal with a unique identifier. Each battery-powered tag and badge is equipped with an IR sensor that receives the monitor's ID number. The tag then transmits a 900 MHz signal encoded with the module's ID number and its own ID. RFID access points (readers) within range of the tag capture that data and forward it to the TeleTracking software via a cabled connection.

New Cross is still installing the technology, Nash reports, though much of it has already been taken live. In spring 2013, the facility launched a limited version of the asset-tracking system, which now consists of 4,000 different zone locations, defined by IR modules (beacons) installed at each patient bed, laboratory or section of public gathering areas. The hand-hygiene system was rolled out a year later. RFID access points and IR modules have been installed at 1,700 hand-hygiene stations located throughout its facility, with the exception of the maternity ward. In the future, she says, additional read zones will be added to the emergency department in the future.

The hospital also mounted 42-inch touchscreens that display TeleTracking software data for personnel at congregation points throughout the facility.

For asset-tracking purposes, CenTrak TAG IT-713 tags are attached to medical devices and equipment, such as pumps, beds and wheelchairs. TeleTracking software captures and stores location data, and can provide analytics indicating what has been cleaned and what is due for cleaning, based on a particular item's location history. "It's not just about saving time for patient care," Nash explains. "It's about getting the equipment to the patient in a timely manner to start treatment."

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