Real-Time Location Systems in Healthcare and Corrections: What to Look For

Healthcare security at night

By Bill Edge

When researching which indoor positioning system is right for your needs in a healthcare facility or corrections facility, so much comes down to three simple qualifications: customizability, reliability and accuracy. 

Knowing where patients and staff are with precision makes a world of difference in terms of safety, patient care and efficiency in healthcare settings. And in the world of corrections, knowing with certainty where staff and inmates are in real time helps foster a culture of safety that benefits both inmates and corrections staff. 

Why the Right System Matters: Healthcare

The United States’ healthcare system—a sprawling network of clinics, hospitals, in-patient treatment facilities and more—faces its own share of patient safety, staff safety and tracking challenges. 

Violence against healthcare providers is another consideration. According to a research article published by Becker’s Hospital Review in 2019, nearly 80% of registered nurses noted experiences of workplace violence—and only 20% to 60% of violent encounters are even reported. The ability to monitor the real-time locations of staff, patients and infants helps to protect staff in instances of patient violence, and boosts the level of patient safety, particularly in care facilities where patient wandering is a concern.   

There’s also the matter of medical equipment inventories. The ability to accurately track assets such as wheelchairs allows for healthcare facilities to provide better patient care and reduce asset loss. 

Why the Right System Matters: Corrections

America’s penal system, spanning local jails, state prisons and federal facilities across the country, is exceedingly complex, housing everyone from low-level offenders to high-risk individuals found guilty of committing murder or other brutal crimes. And, due to a lack of funding and anomalies in this country’s incarceration system, these facilities are notoriously overcrowded with inmates and understaffed by corrections officers—stressors that can lead to violence and security issues within facilities. 

Inmate-on-inmate violence makes up a large share of violence in corrections facilities—in Alabama, for example, the rate of such incidents doubled between 2014 and 2019, and homicide rates were eight times the national average. 

And because of those same issues stemming from lack of funding and overcrowding, corrections officers are often subject to extreme burnout. These same officers are tasked with maintaining control of a prison population in numbers that far exceed their own. 

Having a system that tracks inmates with precision and accuracy—down to the room, at exactly the right time—provides critical seconds for effective intervention that can help keep inmates and staff safe. 

Customizability, Reliability, Accuracy

In either healthcare or corrections facilities, customizability, reliability and accuracy are the most important factors to look for in your search for an effective indoor positioning system that is best equipped to handle your facility’s needs. 

Actall systems, for example, are highly customizable for spaces large and small—everything from outdoor recreational areas, down to individual rooms. This flexibility allows us to serve institutions of all sizes with solutions that are configured exactly to their needs—no more, no less. 

Reliability is equally critical. Any Actall-manufactured system comes with a two-year warranty, and our location-tracking tags are fully repairable and won’t require costly replacement. While other real-time location systems (RTLS) require much fine-tuning or adjustments based on atmospheric pressure, weather and more, Actall RTLS components are robust and durable, and will not be affected by outside weather events. Less equipment downtime means more safety. 

Lastly, accuracy. It’s not exactly groundbreaking to say that the more accurate the location, the faster help can arrive, or the better outcomes may be. But ensuring accuracy in complex physical environments such as hospitals and corrections facilities is of the utmost importance. These types of facilities are often densely populated and, especially in the case of corrections facilities, built with thick walls and reinforcements that can impede signals. Actall’s technology is specifically designed to ensure that even in these architecturally dense facilities, signals are routed easily and help arrives quickly. 

RTLS systems in healthcare and corrections are investments not just in technology and hardware but in safety and security too. Choosing the right one can help your organization reach safety goals while maximizing positive outcomes, creating better workplaces and environments for all.