Josette Weinstein, Marketing Coordinator

 

We’ve all heard the story of the boy who cried wolf. Similar to the story, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses cites that between 72% and 99% of all clinical alarms are false. This high number of false alarms has led to a healthcare phenomenon known as alarm fatigue. Alarm fatigue occurs when clinicians become desensitized to or experience sensory overload when exposed to the constant noise of the alarms. Consequently, rather than signaling that something is wrong with a patient, the alarms become background noise that clinicians perceive as part of their normal working environment.

“Hospitals are greatly concerned about alarm fatigue because it interferes with patient safety, and it exposes patients – and the hospitals themselves – to grave harm,” states Michael Wong, the executive director of the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health and Safety. “[Research] shows hospital staff are exposed to an average of 350 alarms per bed, per day…that translates into thousands of alarms per unit and tens of thousands of alarms per hospital each and every day.”1

Neglected clinical alarms negatively impact hospitals and patients

Patient deaths have been attributed to alarm fatigue. Many clinicians who find these false alarms bothersome tend to silence audible or text message alerts without checking the patient or permanently disable the alarms altogether. To battle this issue, the Joint Commission focused its 2014 National Patient Safety Goal on the issue of alarm fatigue with further regulations becoming mandatory by the end of this year.

What can be done to combat alarm fatigue?

While it may be easy to blame the bedside caregivers for not responding to alarms, it’s important to understand that alarm fatigue needs to be addressed at the administrative level. Implementing an enterprise-wide patient safety solution, these healthcare facilities can decrease the frequency of false alarms.

The smartest patient safety investment would combine real-time location system (RTLS) technology with a proven security system. These solutions can provide location information wherever 100% accuracy is needed including rooms, hallways, beds, chairs, bassinets and even bays. So how does this fight against alarm fatigue? Let’s say a patient is standing by the door inside of their room. A clinical-grade patient safety system would show with certainty that the patient is still safely inside their room; while an estimated-locating solution may mistakenly set off an alarm thinking that he or she was in the hallway. This avoids another unnecessary alarm and helps prevent further alarm fatigue.

When choosing the correct patient safety solution, it’s important to select an option that includes tamper-resistant tags. These tamper sensors will send an alert if the tag stops communicating with the system or is removed from the patient. So you may be thinking: how could a device that potentially creates more alarms prevent alarm fatigue? It’s important to choose a tamper-resistant tag with a soft and comfortable, but secure wrist, or ankle band to ensure that the tag stays in constant contact with the skin. For infants, selecting a tag that attaches directly to the umbilical cord is a great alternative as these infant protection tags tend to be more secure and have less risk of accidentally being removed by the infant or caretaker. These tags will reduce the frequency of nuisance alarms and make certain that if a tamper alarm is generated, clinicians understand that it is a real and serious situation.

Learn More

To learn more about how your healthcare facility can reduce alarm fatigue and increase patient safety, download our Patient Safety Overview.

Request A Demo

Citations

  1. http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/healthcare/hospitals-rank-alarm-fatigue-as-top-patient-safety-concern

Wireless headphones, a cordless computer mouse, and even wearable fitness bands that stream data to our Smartphones are all ways that Bluetooth technology has impacted our lives today. While different types of wireless technologies have been used for decades in medical devices and healthcare, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is a fairly recent innovation that is changing the way the healthcare industry is experiencing wireless connectivity. BLE uses far less battery power than traditional Bluetooth technology, yet offers a comparable connection that is both robust and reliable. Due to its capabilities, low power and cost, BLE is ideal for medical applications.

blue tooth low energy BLE in healthcare

The significant number of medical and personal mobile devices supporting this technology is making it possible for hospitals to better engage with their patients before, during and after each visit. According to a 2013 eClinicalWorks Survey, 93% of healthcare professionals believe mobile apps can improve patient experience and outcomes. For example, Wayfinding applications can be used to help minimize frustration and increase patient satisfaction during an often stressful or confusing experience. Wayfinding uses Smartphone capabilities in addition to location-based technology, such as Real Time Location Systems (RTLS), to create an indoor navigation system. Patients and hospital visitors can use their Smartphones to find their destination in a complex healthcare facility of multiple buildings, floors and rooms. From the parking garage where they are able to drop a location reminder to help them easily return to their parking space, turn-by-turn directions and real-time map views are then provided (much like a standard GPS). Additionally, lost and unhappy patients may create an even more expensive problem than the possibility of negative HCAHPS scores. When patients get lost, they often end up late for their appointment which has the potential to back up schedules and create costly inefficiencies.

The combination of RTLS and BLE technologies also enable event-driven triggers based on proximity sensing and timing which may help streamline numerous clinical processes. Automating patient check-in when their mobile device is located at their destination, such as the imaging department, can deliver a seamless experience upon arrival. During their wait, they can be provided contextual content such as the facility’s latest technology and advancements in diagnostic imaging. Subsequently, at the end of their visit before the patient exits the facility, a brief survey can be pushed to the patient’s mobile device in an attempt to resolve any issues before the official HCAHPS survey is sent out.

For a caregiver, BLE-enabled devices and wearable technology using RTLS, could create a more efficient workflow and a hands-free approach to patient care. For example, a BLE-enabled staff badge and workstation would allow for the EHR to automatically authenticate and log the user in and out of the system based on their proximity – i.e. being within 12 inches of the station. The less time a caregiver spends looking at a screen to log in and manually document information, the more time they are able to dedicate to engaging directly with the patient.

As mobile health continues to introduce innovative ways to help healthcare organizations engage patients and improve outcomes, CenTrak ensures to embrace all new technologies to provide a “future-proof” RTLS investment. In February 2015, CenTrak announced the introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy to its RTLS platform. The complexity of locating assets, patients, staff and visitors in the healthcare environment requires a fully integrated combination of diverse technologies to achieve maximum benefit. CenTrak’s BLE functionality is one of the many technologies supported by our Clinical-Grade Visibility Platform™ used to improve the utility of CenTrak’s location services.

When selecting an RTLS provider, healthcare leaders should consider a multitude of technologies for their enterprise location services strategy. BLE is just one piece of the puzzle and it is recommended to evaluate solutions that will meet your current and future location accuracy needs (i.e. room-, bed-, bay-, or chair-level) and system interoperability requirements. For information on how implement and leverage BLE technology, including Wayfinding and other advanced location-based use cases, request more information here.

Request A Demo

hospital staff duress and satisfaction solution

Josette Weinstein, Marketing Coordinator

This week, it was reported that the demand for new caregivers at assisted living communities is at an all-time high due to current staff shortages. As a result of a combination of extraordinary responsibility and a long list of duties, these resident communities are facing a lot of staffing changes and caregiver turnover. This revolving door of caretakers not only is concerning to residents, but hinders community efficiency and workflow. A lighter work force means that other employees need to pick up the slack and new personnel require training and onboarding to acclimate to their new responsibilities and daily tasks.

Many long-term care communities are turning to technology to help relieve their staff of some of the added responsibilities and to increase overall campus visibility. Implementing a resident safety and security platform that utilizes a Real-Time Location System (RTLS) is helping to fix these operational workflow issues and allows staff to focus primarily on interacting with and caring for their residents.

Sanctuary Care at Rye™, a 56-bed assisted living community that focuses on residents with mild to moderate cognitive impairment and memory loss, found that this combination resident safety/security and real-time visibility solution helped them see a significant improvement with staff effectiveness. Without a change in the number of caregivers on premises, their staff was able to accomplish more every day because they were not concerned with wasting time doing things such as searching the facility for a specific resident or worrying if specific residents were wandering into restricted areas.

Ensuring Residents are Always Safe & Protected

One of the highest stress factors that assisted living community caretakers face is the potential that their residents will wander into dangerous areas. By implementing a community-wide resident safety and security system, residents can feel empowered with a sense of control and freedom to safely access certain community amenities and common areas while being fully secured and protected from high risk zones. This freedom has the potential to improve resident satisfaction, making their encounters with staff much more pleasant and positive. Additionally, managing care schedules is simple and efficient due to staff knowledge of the residents’ precise location.

Choosing a resident security solution with clinical-grade visibility capabilities provides staff with a quick response to wandering and significantly reduces risk of resident hazards. Wandering residents can be respectfully redirected before traveling too far out of bounds, avoiding awkward encounters and dangerous situations.

Keeping Caregivers and Community Personnel Safe

To keep employee satisfaction high, it’s critical that they never feel distracted or concerned about their personal safety in the workplace. Automated staff duress and panic alerting systems enables immediate response times during emergency situations by instantly locating the specific employee under duress. Each staff member is provided with a RTLS badge featuring wireless call functionality. Assistance is only a simple button-press or pull-cord away and provides resident caretakers with the peace of mind that they are always safe and protected.

Learn More

To learn more about how your assisted living community can increase staff satisfaction operational workflow efficiencies, download our Long-Term Care Resident Security and our Staff Duress & Panic Alerting overviews.

Request A Demo

Staff Protection

Lisa Castore, Marketing Intern 

A doctor lost her life earlier at a behavioral health center in Dallas, Texas earlier this month after being tackled by one of her patients. The hospital had been in the process of relocating some of their patients due to some “safety woes.” A patient was upset to learn of his own impending relocation, leading him to assault a doctor who happened to be standing outside of his door. The collision brought the doctor to the floor, where she hit her head and immediately lost consciousness and eventually passed away.

Unfortunately, it’s a common misconception in the healthcare and social service community that assaults are part of the job, especially in behavioral health centers and nursing homes where patients are often disoriented and confused. In fact, half of all nonfatal but serious injuries occurring in the workplace happen in healthcare and social service settings. Not only is this statistic estimated to be much lower than the true number of healthcare staff attacks, as many assaults go unreported, some assaults do actually end in mortalities. Now more than ever, hospital executives are faced with the question, how can we ensure that our personnel are safe without infringing on a comforting patient experience?

Ensure the Safety of Hospital Personnel

Feeling safe doesn’t just improve moral, it ensures that hospital personnel aren’t distracted by the stress of their personal safety, improving overall patient experience and staff satisfaction. While hiring more security guards may seem like the obvious answer to safety concerns, too many security guards walking around can give patients the feeling that they are constantly being watched, as if in prison. This only contributes to patient confusion— the very cause of these potentially dangerous situations. Furthermore, it can be quite difficult for a security guard to know exactly when a threatening situation is occurring, especially because it doesn’t take long for a threat to escalate to a full-scale assault. In order to truly protect staff members, healthcare facilities need to implement a solution that can alert others to help the moment a situation spirals out of control.

A Smarter Workforce Security System

The best solution to ensure the safety and well-being of healthcare personnel is to implement an automated staff duress and panic alerting system. This type of wireless security solution protects healthcare personnel by enabling immediate response times during emergencies by instantly locating the specific employee under duress. With either a wall-mounted device or a small staff badge that can easily be hidden behind an employee ID badge, a nurse or doctor could discretely summon help if faced with a threatening situation or is in need of assistance.

Learn More

To learn more about clinical-grade staff duress and panic alerting solutions and how they can help protect healthcare staff members against threatening and dangerous situations, download the CenTrak Staff Duress Overview.

Request A Demo

Blood Donation

Josette Weinstein, Marketing Coordinator

Editor’s Note: At the time this blog was written, the American Red Cross has declared an “emergency level” of needing blood donations. If you are interested in donating, please visit http://www.redcross.org/give-blood to find a blood drive near you. 

 

Considered to be a hospital staple, blood is used in almost every department. To save lives, hospitals must always have a supply of blood available when patients need it. As red blood cells can only be stored for 42 days, and platelets expire after a short 5 day period, ensuring that blood is preserved and maintained properly is critical. The following are the most common uses for blood throughout the US.

Medical Conditions

Many medical conditions such as anemia or cancer, require frequent blood transfusions. Whether it’s to treat complications or to offset medication side effects, these blood transfusions make up a staggering 67% of the US total – that’s approximately 14 million transfusions each year.

For those suffering from diseases such as sickle cell anemia, frequent blood transfusions is the best way to provide those individuals with the best quality of life. Many people with this disease can expect to receive new blood every 3 – 12 months. These frequent transfusions combat the severe complications of this disease and can greatly increase the life expectancy of those suffering. Due to these reasons, it’s extremely important that a steady supply of blood be readily available when needed.

Surgery & Trauma

The likelihood of someone to suffer from blood loss during a surgical procedure is incredibly high. Many surgical teams will even require that blood be available in the OR before the surgery begins in case it is needed, this allows the surgical team to prevent complications and begin the transfusion process immediately. Due to these increased odds, surgery accounts for 27% of all blood use throughout hospital.

When a trauma event occurs and a patient has suffered serious blood loss, hospitals initiate massive transfusion protocol (MTP). During these situations, it’s a race against the clock; acute blood loss contributes to a large portion of mortality in the early post-trauma period. If there isn’t enough of the correct blood type available, the trauma victim may not survive.

Child Birth

The average amount of blood loss after one birth is between 500mL and 1000mL. Unfortunately, some women experience postpardum hemorrhage (PPH) and experience severe blood loss and require an immediate blood transfusion. This is rare and only makes up only 6% of the total blood national blood usage.

Safeguarding Blood Inventory and Reducing Product Waste

A traditional method of manually recording the condition of blood bank refrigerators has the potential for inconsistent data collection and inaccuracy. By implementing an automated, wireless environmental and temperature monitoring solution, hospitals can take immediate action if blood storage temperatures begin to approach unsafe temperatures. This greatly reduces waste and safeguards blood inventory levels.

Automated environmental monitoring systems are easy to use and customizable, allowing the blood bank to monitor and document a range of information such as storage temperature and humidity. At the application-level, users can view refrigeration groups and receive alerts when units are outside of their monitored threshold.

Learn More

To learn more about how automated environmental and temperature monitoring solutions can enable your blood bank to maintain compliance, eliminate product loss, improve patient safety, and increase staff productivity, download this overview.

Request A Demo

iStock_000005151131XLarge (3)

In April 2016, Healthcare Business News published an article on the staffing shortage crisis in America. The article suggests that the aging patient population increasing the demand for healthcare services as well as the number of healthcare workers entering retirement age are partially responsible for the shortfall. While the problem exists across the board for nursing, greater shortages have been noted in the operating room, neonatal department, and the intensive care unit. With this workforce challenge, healthcare facilities must find ways to optimize their current resources while maintaining their focus on quality care.

As innovation in mobile-health and health IT continues, there is a growing expectation for hospital leadership to do more with less. CenTrak’s mission is to help fulfill this demand for its customers – increasing efficiencies, lowering costs and improving both patient and staff satisfaction through our Clinical-Grade Visibility Solutions™. Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) and automated environmental monitoring solutions are two technologies hospitals around the world are recognizing as a necessity in today’s healthcare environment. Let’s take a look at a few of the aforementioned departments as an example of how a Clinical-Grade Visibility platform can be leveraged:

Operating Room (OR)

Without knowledge of the location, movement and interactions of patients, staff and critical operating room assets, process improvement is virtually impossible. However, with accurate visibility into this information provided by RTLS, the OR can apply sophisticated rules to deliver true workflow automation. In the OR, CenTrak helps to automate manual tracking systems, providing location and time-specific data such as case status, milestones, patient location and department work queues (waiting room, pre-op, intra-op, PACU and post-op). Automating these events, without having to wait for a clinician to update a case status, provides immediate insights into the department – reducing stress, improving efficiency and directly improving the overall bottom line. Surgical departments can also use RTLS to reduce the time spent searching for assets, greatly improving staff utilization as nurses are able to quickly find and stage OR equipment.

During operations, environmental conditions must be strictly controlled and certain temperature sensitive materials must be readily available. For example, ensuring that blood is preserved and properly maintained is important as the likelihood for someone to suffer from blood loss during a surgical procedure is increased. By implementing an automated, wireless environmental and temperature monitoring solution, hospitals can take immediate action if blood storage temperatures begin to approach unsafe temperatures. This greatly reduces product waste and safeguards blood inventory levels to ensure it is available at the moment it is needed.

Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

In the ICU, having access to the necessary equipment and support staff when a life-threatening situation arises is critical. When staff members are under pressure, they don’t have time to spare searching for medical equipment. Unlike other solutions on the market that estimate distance, CenTrak provides the precise location of the resources they need with 100 percent accuracy. When clinicians can perform their jobs without being interrupted by misplaced equipment challenges, they experience a more streamlined workflow – improving their overall job satisfaction and increasing efficiency.

It is also important to note that the CenTrak Staff Badge is used in several applications to automate clinical events and provide 24/7 location alerts for situations requiring immediate assistance. Using wireless call functionality, staff can simply press on their badge to summon for help. In a circumstance where every second counts, the exact location is immediately displayed at the nursing station to ensure quick response times. Additionally, the interoperability of accurate staff location information and existing technologies, such as leading EHRs or Nurse Call systems, has the ability to capture and document clinical events and milestones to reduce manual data entry. This provides enhanced communication capabilities for staff, faster response times for patients, and a more hands-free approach to patient care.

The Next Generation of Healthcare Technology

On average, nurses walk up to 5 miles per day on the hospital floors. They are called in multiple directions at once and have on average 72 tasks per hour (Westbrook et al. BMC Health Services Research 2011). Their time spent doing paperwork, searching for support staff or assets, and responding to interruptions decreases the time they have to provide direct patient care. RTLS helps eliminate wasted time and increase efficiency to automate workflow processes. No matter the hospital department, RTLS is a valuable tool that provides more efficient solutions for enhanced patient care.

Request A Demo

Medical Scope Management

 

Lisa Castore, Marketing Intern

The LA Times recently released an article about 11 hospital patient deaths at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena. The killer? Medical scope mismanagement. The outbreak began in January 2013 and continued until August 2015, resulting in 16 infected patients, including 11 who have since died. While only one of the 11 death certificates lists the bacteria found on Huntington’s medical scopes as the cause of death, these mortalities reveal the dangers of improper medical scope management.

The particular type of scope at fault is the Olympus duodenoscope. All duodenoscopes feature a tiny camera on the end, and are inserted into the throat and upper gastrointestinal tract. Due to their tubular and long design, they have a history of holding onto bacteria. Last winter, the mismanaged duodenoscopes took the lives of four others in California and North Carolina. This past January, Olympus recalled one model of its reusable duodenoscopes because the potential to transfer bacteria between patients was too high. Two of the scopes responsible for the Huntington outbreak were an older version of this recalled scope.

Standard Endoscope Reprocessing

While the inherit nature of duodenoscopes appear to pose an infection risk, they can also improve and often save the lives of many patients if managed correctly. The standard for cleaning endoscopes was updated in May of last year, titled: ANSI/AAMI ST91:2015, Comprehensive guide to flexible and semi-rigid endoscope processing in healthcare facilities. It goes into extensive detail about the processes of cleaning, sterilizing, and disinfecting endoscopes as well as endoscope pre-cleaning, leak-testing, packaging and storage, which were often left to each individual healthcare facility’s unique operating procedures. So, it’s the responsibility of healthcare facilities to properly manage their medical scopes so that their patients receive the care they need and avoid infection risk.

The Pasadena Public Health Department’s investigation report identified the design of the scope as well as the health facilities poor infection control as main causes of the outbreak. Pseudomonas aeruginosa was found on three of Huntington’s scopes, as well as another kind of bacteria inside the washer that is used to clean the scopes. Lawrence Muscarella, a medical safety consultant in Montgomeryville, PA, has said “this shows a total failure of the system, from top to bottom.”

How Real-Time Locating Technology Can Help

To reduce future infection, healthcare facilities must first and foremost take a look at the reprocessing and storage of their endoscopes when they aren’t being used. In order to avoid risk from organic matter or bio-burden left on the endoscope, it’s important for these endoscopes to enter the first stage of reprocessing within a very short period. A Clinical-Grade Real-Time Location System (RTLS) can automatically track and create alerts through every stage of this cleaning process. Staff immediately know when endoscopes need to be cleaned and are instantaneously notified of any possible infection risks. With the potential for wide-spread disease and the risk of infection with these devices, it’s crucial for healthcare facilities to have the ability to track the storage, usage and cleaning life cycles of every endoscope. By utilizing miniature, durable tags capable of withstanding High-Level Disinfection (HLD), a healthcare facility is able to easily and safely monitor scopes through their usage, cleaning and storage life cycles and improve patient safety.

Clinical-Grade RTLS systems could enable healthcare facilities to know which scopes should be used first in order to maximize workflow and avoid unnecessary washing and disinfection that can be harmful to the device’s structure. CenTrak offers the DuraTag – a small, extremely durable tag specifically designed to be attached to the neck of medical scopes. This way all critical steps of scope reprocessing can be managed and optimized to improve efficiency, reduce loss and most importantly keep patients safe.

Learn More

To learn more about clinical-grade endoscope management solutions and how they can improve patient safety and reduce enterprise-wide infection risk, visit our Medical Scope Management System Page or  download CenTrak’s Medical Scope Management Overview.

Request A Demo

infant security system

Josette Weinstein, Marketing Coordinator

Last week, Seton Medical Center Hays received one of the scariest threats a hospital can receive, an infant abduction warning. The Texas hospital was warned that at some point that week “unauthorized persons” would enter the hospital and leave with an infant in-hand. Luckily, no abduction attempt was ever made and all the newborns are safe and accounted for.

On that very same day, a woman abducted a three-day-old infant boy from a Louisiana hospital’s maternity ward. The woman allegedly befriended the mother and left the hospital with the baby when the mother visited the restroom. Fortunately, the child was found an hour later at the kidnapper’s home, safe and unharmed.

As scary as these situations are, they are a very real possibility. Unlike the situation that happened in Texas, most of the time there are no warnings – once the newborns have been taken, there are only moments to react, if it’s not too late. Over the past 32 years, 133 infants have been abducted from healthcare facilities; of those 133, five children are still missing.

The best way for healthcare facilities to protect their most vulnerable patients is to be proactive rather than reactive by installing a clinical-grade infant protection system. These infant security systems offer cost-effective, facility-wide protection for babies, defending them against abduction attempts and allowing clinical staff to know the precise location of every infant at all times. Should an unauthorized attempt to leave the facility with a protected newborn occur, the platform will immediately set off an alarm, capture video image, activate door locks, and even hold selected elevators. This level of security and visibility provides families with the peace of mind that their babies are always safe and sound.

Features of a Clinical-Grade Infant Protection System

When looking for the most advanced, clinical-grade infant protection solution for your healthcare facility, it’s important to make certain that the system has the following features:

  • Infant Tags – These infant tags are critical for providing necessary visibility into the baby’s location and protection from abduction attempts. The smartest infant security systems provide skin-sensing tamper detection which generates instant alerts if the tag is removed from the newborns’ skin or stops communicating with the system. The size of the tags is important too! Be sure to find small, comfortable, and unobtrusive tags as to ensure that the baby remains happy and content at all times.
  • Bassinet-Level Visibility – When not in their mothers’ rooms, infants are often kept in NICUs or maternity ward rooms together with other newborns. For this reason, it’s imperative to know the exact location of each baby in the department. By implementing a newborn security system that can provide visibility down to the bassinet or mother’s bed-level, healthcare facilities can know with certainty the exact location of every baby under their care at all times.
  • Mother-Baby Matching – Another level of protection is ensuring that the proper child is paired with the correct mother. Clinical-grade infant protection platforms should incorporate mother-baby matching. If a baby is brought to the incorrect mother’s room, an instantaneous alert will occur. Mothers and families can always feel at ease that they are bonding with and bringing home the right child.
  • Analytics – For hospital administration, it’s critical to see results from any investments. This means you need a solution that can easily generate reports showing infant movement, alarms generated, and all prevented abductions.

Learn More

To learn more about clinical-grade infant protection solutions and how they can protect healthcare’s most vulnerable patients, register for our upcoming webinar: Protect Infants with a Clinical-Grade Safety & Security Platform.

Request A Demo

We’ve asked a few of our top customers, “What advice would you offer to those implementing RTLS in their hospitals?” Read on to discover the top 5 lessons learned!


1. Form a steering committee/working group

Before simply rolling out RTLS in your healthcare facility, create a steering committee or working group as a resource to create, manage and maintain the process. Typically, multiple departments will play a role in the deployment, as well as enjoy some of the benefits of an RTLS solution, so pick representatives across divisions such as Biomed, IT, Nursing, C-level executives, Surgical Services, ED, Patient Safety, Risk Management, Security, and Infection Prevention.

In addition, use this group to further develop innovative applications of your RTLS infrastructure after the initial deployment. As they become experts in the system, they will be able to evaluate new use cases, brainstorm ideas, and manage the implementation and maintenance on an ongoing basis.

2. Create a formal planning and assessment process

Below is an example of a 12-week assessment and development plan before proceeding with implementation — this suggested methodology has been provided by leading System Integrator/RTLS consultant, Infinite Leap. Having a formal plan will help prove and maximize value, as well as prioritize RTLS applications. It will also help to ensure a well thought-out and successful launch with minimal surprises down the road!

5 Lessons Learned3

As a part of your steering committee, designate a team lead to provide status updates that are sent to the working group on an ongoing (we recommend weekly) basis. This should be a quick summary of what’s active, in progress, or delayed, and what needs to be paused completely so the committee can step-back and reevaluate. This ensures everyone is on the same page on any given week. It also serves as an ongoing “lessons learned” platform to determine what has been going well, what is not going so well, and what additional resources are needed to make the program successful.

On a quarterly basis, it is a good idea to report projects that are underway to senior leadership and report annually to executives for a debrief regarding the program. This provides an opportunity to talk about where the initiatives are headed from a budget, vision and patient satisfaction standpoint – ensuring the entire organization is well aware of and will continue to support the concept of “Enterprise-Wide Visibility”.

3. Align to your enterprise strategy

Every healthcare organization has the fundamental principles they stand on. Often times they look something like; quality and safety, access and throughput, labor optimization and productivity, supply chain and resource optimization, patient engagement and experience, and population health. Task the working group to think about how RTLS can bring these pillars to life more so than they already are today. Categorizing each of your RTLS initiatives and use cases into the strategic bucket to which it improves/identifies with makes it easy to clearly report on ROI to hospital executives. For example, staff duress/panic alerting, infection control, and hand-hygiene compliance ties back to quality and safety, while patient flow applications, asset loss prevention, temperature monitoring, automatic patient check in and queuing fall into different categories. Quantifying each initiative into a value bucket such as a cost avoidance, an increase in productivity, etc. will help justify the value of the program on a regular basis.

4. Get buy-in by proving the value to patients, staff and family members first

Sometimes, staff, patients, and family members can get the wrong idea about RTLS. They may not fully understand the benefits but instead feel their privacy is being invaded by “big brother”. To this end, it is important to thoroughly explain how RTLS will be used to improve day-to-day hospital operations, as well as enhance the protection of staff and patients. In addition, you should alleviate any concerns they may have about the safety of the technology used in tags and badges (your RTLS provider should have documentation you can easily share). We have often times seen that when others have witnessed the benefits of RTLS (such as quick assistance from the press of a staff badge, infection/contamination control, or a smoother patient experience) RTLS becomes a “pull” for additional applications of this technology in other areas of the hospital. In one facility utilizing RTLS, patient tags are optional, but once its uses are explained, most don’t oppose.

5. Test with small roll-outs before implementing on a broader scale

As with anything in life, you can’t possibly prepare for everything. No matter how thoroughly you’ve planned, there will likely be a bump or two in the road. Before launching a huge roll out, choose smaller departments or scale down your implementation to comprehensively test the process. Once everyone is confident that you are getting the most value from the implementation, spend your resources to roll out the program fully.

Request A Demo
Content courtesy: Infinite Leap

How are hospitals like Geisinger enhancing the patient experience?

Earlier this week, there was an interesting story on NBC nightly news regarding how Geisinger Health System is offering patients the ability to request their money back if they are not satisfied with their hospital stay. This “money-back guarantee” concept, which we are used to seeing in a consumer-retail environment, demonstrates how serious hospitals are viewing patient satisfaction.

GeisingerApp

Using a smartphone app, patients who receive treatment at Geisinger can rate their experience and then ask for a refund of their out of pocket costs if they are unhappy with the quality of care. The program launched in November 2015 and since then, the health system has refunded nearly $80,000 from approximately 70 requests. This is one more way to give patients a voice; and for Geisinger Health System to receive valuable feedback on where improvements are needed to increase patient satisfaction and, subsequently, their HCAHPS scores. HCAHPS scores are used by the federal government to determine how much funding to provide to a hospital and healthcare facilities are searching for innovative ideas and technologies to create a better experience for their patients. Thus far, hospital wait times, food service, and communications have been addressed since the program launched at Geisinger last year.

You may be wondering how a hospital could support such a bold guarantee and what they are doing to raise the level of patient care and experience. One technology being used at Geisinger-Community Medical Center (G-CMC) is patient locating via a Real-Time Location System (RTLS). A person admitted into the hospital will likely move from one area to another—such as to diagnostics, a patient room or a waiting area; and it can be time-consuming for families or healthcare providers to locate them. Disposable tags attached to the patient’s hospital ID bracelet are being used to provide patient location information to patients’ families and care providers, as well as to the facility’s cleaning staff.

How does it work? Staff members associate each patient with a tag’s unique identifier via their chosen software platform. As the patient moves throughout the facility, the tag receives the ID numbers associated with wireless RFID readers installed in various locations. The data is then forwarded to a server and passed on to the software, which displays the patient’s exact location on a video monitor. At G-CMC, these video monitors are referred to as “tracker boards” and display the real-time location of each patient by name. The monitors are not accessible for public viewing but a physician or family member can quickly seek assistance from staff. Additionally, when G-CMC discharges the patient, the tag is placed in a designated drop box which captures the tag’s ID number and forwards that data to the software. The cleaning staff is then notified that the patient’s bed has been vacated so they can begin preparing for the next patient – helping to reduce wait times and improve bed management.

While the RTLS platform was initially installed for basic location awareness, G-CMC and other hospitals like it have quickly realized that they can easily expand the system’s functionality for more advanced use cases in the future. For example, linking the locations of medical equipment and patients in order to better track which services a patient is receiving and when. Contact tracing capabilities are also significant as a facility can quickly identify who or what might have come in contact with an infected patient, giving them better tools to prevent serious outbreaks of communicable diseases.

Technologies such as Enterprise Location Services are being used in healthcare facilities worldwide to improve operational workflows, reduce wait times, protect patients and staff, and enhance the overall quality of care and patient experience. During an interview with the Washington Post, Geisinger Health System’s president and chief executive, Dr. David Feinberg, says he is working on a plan to eliminate all emergency room wait times within three years. We look forward to hearing more about this initiative and to see if other area hospitals will begin to offer a similar money back guarantee. Stay tuned!

Request A Demo