RTLS helps improve contact tracing of high-risk COVID-19 cases, South Korean study finds

A study conducted at a South Korean university hospital has highlighted the potential of using a real-time location system to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

A research team from the Department of Infectious Diseases of Yongin Severance Hospital, a teaching hospital in Yongin City, conducted a study to compare the efficacy and validity of RTLS with a conventional contact tracing method to identify high-risk contacts of COVID-19 -positive patients in hospital.


The study identified more than 1,000 contact cases of confirmed COVID-19 patients during the first quarter of the year.

The the results, which were published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, revealed that RTLS has a higher sensitivity in detecting high-risk contact cases (60%) compared to a conventional contact tracing method ( 46.8%), which involves an interview person and a review of EMR and surveillance camera feeds.

Moreover, the RLTS showed a secondary transmission rate of 8.1% among the identified cases while the conventional method showed 5.3%.


There has been a growing demand for technologies that help already overwhelmed hospitals reduce the burden of infection control during the pandemic.

Although the study showed that the sensitivity value of RTLS in identifying secondary transmissions is “not high enough” for a single contact tracing method, it can still benefit hospitals as a complementary tool. to conventional methods of contact tracing, “particularly when individuals share rooms with each other and under the influence of highly transmissible diseases,” the study authors said in their conclusion.


In the early months of the pandemic, the Singapore’s Tan Tock Seng Hospital has also integrated RTLS into its COVID-19 response to better manage the influx of patients. It provided RTLS beacons to patients, visitors and staff for contact tracing, and used the same technology to track equipment in real time.