Focus: Technology

Location technology: The next investment for healthcare

By Mohsen Hekmatyar / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
May 18, 2020

 Healthcare comes with its share of liabilities and uncertainties: patients who are unwell may have aggressive reactions to medications, may be experiencing mental distress, or may hold hostility towards treatment. In fact, according to OSHA, workplace assaults ranged from 23,540 and 25,630 every year from 2011 to 2013, with up to 74% occurring in healthcare and social service settings. And for healthcare workers, assaults comprise 10-11% of workplace injuries involving days away from work, in comparison with 3 percent of injuries of all private sector employees. Healthcare workers must be prepared for any scenario. And, meeting this need, healthcare facilities are employing safety solutions to protect and empower employees in any situation— such as location technology.

Location-based security technology is a win for both staff and patients. Location awareness can power a variety of solutions to help staff and patients to react to a multitude of scenarios, boosting transparency by tracking locations, movement, status, and increasing accountability while decreasing unpredictability. It creates a safer environment, decreases risk, builds accountability, and increases staff morale and confidence.

Safety first

There are a number of security technology options available to suit a variety of needs. Top solutions on the market include

  • Staff duress — Tags, pendants, and other portable devices that send immediate alerts to selected officials in the event of problems or danger.
  • Panic buttons — Buttons fixed to a certain location that send immediate alerts to selected officials in the event of problems or danger.
  • Security controllers — Sensors that limit access to locations within a healthcare facility.
  • Patient safety and wander management — Tracking solutions that monitor patients, ensuring they don’t wander off premises or to an unsafe location.
  • Man-down solutions — In the event of a staff member fall, responders are alerted immediately.

    Each solution is optimized for immediacy — location data can provide pinpoint accuracy that eliminates time wasted searching for the origin of the problem, allowing it to be resolved more quickly. And since most technologies in this segment require certain mission critical characteristics, these solutions have built in redundancy or acknowledgment/verification of received alarm conditions as well as multiple methods of annunciating or broadcasting alarm conditions. This ensures that in the event of an emergency situation, there is an immediate response.

    These location technology solutions tout many benefits for both people and the business: providing a safer environment for patients and staff while building accountability and mitigating risk for the organization.

    For business, employees, and patients — everyone wins

    Location technology provides immediate notifications that can prevent escalations and incidents altogether. Just seeing the solution can serve as a preventative measure, in addition to any alarms that sound as a result of it being activated, and can serve to deescalate situations and avoid them in the future.

    The data from these solutions serves a long-term purpose as well. Location history, button press, and other data creates real-time triggers, associations, and reactions from the system such as sounding alarms, but also goes into storage and archiving for future reporting and analysis. This record of incidents feeds into long-term strategies to respond to crises and even help eliminate these situations in the future. This not only promotes safety across the business, but also helps prevent financial and incidental liabilities.

    Empowered staff and patients

    Healthcare businesses with location technology find themselves with a positive byproduct: an increase in staff morale. For staff, having help at the touch of a button creates peace of mind, and ensures support in any scenario. This empowers staff to take control of situations and to request help if needed.

    Location-based security technology provides benefits for patients, too. Patients are kept in secured areas when their health is compromised, such as keeping a baby in a maternity ward or a memory care patient in a senior living facility. The transmitters on the body of the person reacts to the sensors by the door and activate locks or alarms to prevent the breach.

    Residents of senior care facilities also have access to panic buttons in the same manner that staff members do. The action provides the name and location of the originating individual to the caregivers. Most of these types of systems provide ample flexibility to accommodate different scenarios and site-specific requirements, empowering the healthcare facility to tailor the solution to their needs.

    Future-thinking solutions

    Although the core function of the system is its life-safety features to initiate an alert about an incident, the locating of this technology platform can also be used to inform business strategies over time. Using location technology increases possibilities for data usage across the facility, and integrating the solution can create adjacent benefits, as data can power other initiatives. This allows for improved operational workflow, decreasing human error, improving staff efficiency and productivity, and driving automated decision-making.

    For those looking for increasing safety, empowerment, morale, and wellbeing across their healthcare facility, location-based security technology has been proven to be a highly effective way to accomplish those goals. Check out location technology solutions to increase the value of your business and the wellbeing of the people in it.

    Mohsen Hekmatyar is the Vice President of Sales, Security Solutions with CenTrak, a provider of enterprise locating and sensing services™.

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