Much Education Still Needed Before RFID and Other Positioning Solutions Hit Healthcare Mainstream

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New KLAS report looks at the perception of real-time location systems among healthcare providers.

Real-time location systems (RTLS), which use technologies like radio-frequency identification (RFID) to allow hospitals to track the location of everything from equipment to patients, claim promising benefits around cost savings, productivity and improved patient care. Yet a recent study by market research firm KLAS suggests that, despite growing interest in these solutions, there is very limited awareness among providers of the major RTLS vendors and how their products are being used today.

The KLAS report - Real-Time Location Systems Perception Study 2009 - looks at provider impressions and understanding of RTLS solutions at more than 120 organizations known for their progressive use of healthcare IT. Most notably, only 29 percent of the survey base could list an RTLS vendor by name, and 59 percent were not familiar enough with RTLS offerings to identify the technology platform they would consider using.

"The rather rude awakening for RTLS vendors is that, based on this study, provider knowledge in this space is severely lacking," said Steve Van Wagenen, KLAS research director and author of the RTLS report. "While some pilot programs are showing demonstrated results in areas such as asset tracking, in general vendors have some serious educating to do.

"At the same time, the market for real-time location is poised for some significant growth," he added. "Though only 29 percent of study respondents are employing an RTLS solution today, that number is expected to more than double in the next two years."

The Technology of RTLS
RFID tends to be the most recognizable medium for real-time location, but the KLAS report shows that a variety of technologies are being used to track hospital resources. Wi-Fi (802.11) appears to be the most commonly deployed positioning technology, followed by RFID, infrared and ultrasound.

In practice, most current RTLS solutions have been deployed to track assets, either throughout the organization or at a department level. However, patient/infant tracking and staff tracking are the next most common applications. One hospital even reported using RTLS to monitor and manage patient wait times; if a patient's status had not changed in a certain amount of time, an alert would be generated.

Of the 28 different RTLS vendors mentioned by study respondents, providers cited AeroScout as the vendor most often considered. InnerWireless (PanGo) was the second most considered vendor, followed by Ekahau, Radianse, Sonitor, McKesson, GE (Agility), Versus and Awarepoint.

To learn more about the RTLS solution market, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of participating vendors, the Real-Time Location Systems Perception Study 2009 report is available to healthcare providers online for a significant discount off the standard retail price. To purchase the full report, healthcare providers and vendors can visit

About KLAS
KLAS is a research firm specializing in monitoring and reporting the performance of healthcare vendors. KLAS' mission is to improve delivery, by independently measuring vendor performance for the benefit of our healthcare provider partners, consultants, investors, and vendors. Working together with executives from over 4500 hospitals and over 2500 clinics, KLAS delivers timely reports, trends, and statistics, which provide a solid overview of vendor performance in the industry. KLAS measures performance of software, professional services, and medical equipment vendors. For more information, go to or call 1-800-920-4109 to speak with a KLAS representative.


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Shawn Dickerson
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