Real-time locating systems (RTLS) in healthcare: a condensed primer

Int J Health Geogr. 2012 Jun 28:11:25. doi: 10.1186/1476-072X-11-25.


Real-time locating systems (RTLS, also known as real-time location systems) have become an important component of many existing ubiquitous location aware systems. While GPS (global positioning system) has been quite successful as an outdoor real-time locating solution, it fails to repeat this success indoors. A number of RTLS technologies have been used to solve indoor tracking problems. The ability to accurately track the location of assets and individuals indoors has many applications in healthcare. This paper provides a condensed primer of RTLS in healthcare, briefly covering the many options and technologies that are involved, as well as the various possible applications of RTLS in healthcare facilities and their potential benefits, including capital expenditure reduction and workflow and patient throughput improvements. The key to a successful RTLS deployment lies in picking the right RTLS option(s) and solution(s) for the application(s) or problem(s) at hand. Where this application-technology match has not been carefully thought of, any technology will be doomed to failure or to achieving less than optimal results.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computer Systems
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Geographic Information Systems*
  • Health Facilities
  • Humans
  • Inventories, Hospital
  • Patient Identification Systems