Finding Wheelchairs in 1s and 0s: The Power of Location in Data

RTLS (real time location systems) have long been embraced by retailers to monitor store foot traffic and secure merchandise. Today, hospitals are also making use of the technology. RTLS systems are used to track and identify the location and status of objects in real time, using sensors that monitor physical or environmental conditions, such as temperature, sound, vibration, pressure, or motion.

For healthcare providers RTLS means hard-dollar savings! With thousands of assets in constant motion each and every day, it becomes very difficult know what is used where, when, and why. These assets are core to providing care; therefore, dirty, in-use, or broken equipment can completely break the processes that take place in healthcare facilities. Simple activities like finding a piece of equipment can consume most of a caregiver’s time, slowing down patient flow, adding costs, and even impacting patient care.

How can a healthcare organization overcome this issue and put their location data into real use? —>By using powerful analytics. Let’s explore. There are two types of analytics:

1. Historical analysis. By understanding the actual utilization rates of equipment, hospitals can better estimate the inventory levels they need to have on hand, tailoring future purchases to maintain optimum inventory levels.

2. Real-time analysis. Monitoring the usage of equipment in real time and providing alerts when rental equipment is sitting idle, or when a piece of recalled piece of medical equipment enters a patient room,  or when par levels of clean and available equipment are not maintained, boosts the performance of the organization, improves staff efficiency, increases patient satisfaction, and improves patient safety and quality of care.

A great example of applied analytics in healthcare is what Intelligent InSites has implemented within their enterprise RTLS Asset Management software solution. Using this tool, some of their customers save up to $30,000 a month by monitoring real-time information on rental equipment and eliminating unnecessary expenses, such as paying for unused equipment. Intelligent InSites embeds Pentaho Business Analytics as part of their RTLS software solution. Their RTLS healthcare platform enables hospitals and healthcare facilities to analyze data from RTLS and RFID tags on medical equipment, such as wheelchairs or IV infusion pumps, gaining visibility into the location or status of these assets, identifying operational bottlenecks, and ultimately improving their patients’ safety and satisfaction.

Great use case, great story! But what are some things to look for when you are searching for business analytics software?

1. Big Data Support. Sensor and wireless data are considered new and emerging sources of information. Data feeds from RFID/RTLS tags are typically stored in a NoSQL database, such as Hadoop HBase, MongoDB, CouchDB and XML data stores. While transactional sources, such as point-of-sales data, will continue to use relational data formats, the value of an analytics platform lies in the visibility that it provides across all sources of data, comparing and contrasting one data set to the other.  Be sure to look for a business analytics solution that has a broad spectrum of data source connectivity, including both un-structured and structured data sets.

2. Embedded Analytics. Aberdeen research shows that the greatest benefit of business intelligence lies in the value of embedded analytics within an enterprise app. Rather than asking your end users—namely doctors, nurses, administrative staff, and knowledge workers—to switch back and forth between their business processes and the analytical application to drive insight, you can cut the latency and deliver analytics in real time.

A great example of this is Intelligent InSites’ embedded analytics from Pentaho that provides data on asset locations, status, usage, utilization and availability, directly from the end user’s RTLS Asset Management application. At a glance, hospital staff can locate the nearest available wheelchair or stretcher, saving valuable time.

3. Power to the User. Given that most users in healthcare are doctors, nurses, and administrative staff, ease of use and an intuitive user interface is one of the most crucial selection criteria. These users should not only be able to easily read and understand packaged reports, but also have interactive design tools to build their own analysis and dashboards.

Selecting the right Business Analytics software for your location data requires some level of due diligence. Know that you are not alone: location-based intelligence and analysis is applied across all types of industries. Whether you are a retailer looking to understand your customer preferences, a hospital tracking your equipment and resources, or even a horse race sponsor connecting your race track data to betting shops and TV screens, analyzing real-time location data unlocks immediate value.

What location data are you analyzing? Drop me a comment.

Farnaz Erfan
Product Marketing
Pentaho

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