RTLS Use Cases: Nursecall Integration
In this installment of RTLS Use Cases in Hospitals, we will be taking a look at RTLS and Nursecall Integration.
Nursecall systems are used to signal to the clincial staff that help is needed in a specific room and is typically done via a button on the wall of a patients room.
Nursecall integration enables the automatic functioning of the nursecall annunciator lights. In the image on the right, is the call panel – this includes various lights, which can be set to illuminate and flash to indicate different states. The most typical are:
Green: Presence – nurse is in the room
White: Nursecall in progress – has not yet been attended to
The system is traditionally a push button system, where the patient pushes the button to request help and the nurse pushes a button to cancel the call. The nurse presence light can be activated manually also - but is an overhead for a busy clinician.
It would be nice to automate the switching on of the nurse presence and automatically cancel the nursecall. Here's the solution for how to do just that.
Nursecall and Zone Certainty
The difficulty with nursecall integration, is that you have to have a system which can provide 100% certainty that a nurse is indeed in the room. Absolute certainty is required and while other systems use WiFi based triangulation (actually a misnomer - it's really trilateration), the exact position can drift with these systems – which could accidently cancel a nursecall in the adjacent room – for this reason, beacons must be used for nursecall integration applications. For this use case, we have used CenTrak Infrared beacons over both sides of the doorway – they announce a unique zone number to the Staff Tag worn by the nurse – upon detecting this zone number the staff tag is positioned in the room. The staff tag is worn by the nurse and is shown (lower right) amongst some of the other location tracking tags types.
Advantages of Automatic Nursecall
The advantages are that the nurse enters the room and doesn’t have to press a button to indicate presence. Other nurses can easily see the room a colleague is in, just by looking at the lights down the hallway.
A laborious process of tapping in and out of rooms, is just open to never being used properly. The automated illumination of presence is in essence how the system was always meant to work.
The other aspect is the nurse doesn’t have to touch anything when entering the room – so they don’t need to wash their hands in and out to maintain good hygiene, so if they just need to quickly check on something this is a real time saver.
When the nursecall is in operation, an alert and a white light illuminates, the nurse just needs to enter the room to automatically cancel the alert and illuminate the presence light. Prior to the RTLS integration, the nurse would have had to press the button on the nursecall unit (triggering the requirement to wash their hands) and you also wouldn’t know who actually pressed the button. You’d now know which nurse attended, based on the Staff Tag which was detected in the room when running reports from the RTLS system.
One final addition to the setup we’ve seen implemented, was to attach an asset tag to the drug keys – any room these are in illuminated a red light on the annunciator panel – making tracking and finding these keys very easy.
CenTrak RTLS and Nursecall Integration: Summary
Integrating nursecall into a hospital allows for less time to be spent wasting time looking for keys or multiple nurses going to one patient. It allows for quick acknowledgement, tracking and escalations for nurses, giving the nurses more time and more security in their day to day work. With all these pro's, we think it is undoubtedly worth the price to ensure patients get help quickly.