Advancements in locating and analytics technologies are making it much simpler for hospitals and other healthcare facilities to integrate data from day-to-day operations across their systems to improve patient care and experiences.
Information on the real-time location, status, and condition of patients, staff, and equipment is now more widely accessible, providing new levels of visibility into the complex activity of healthcare organizations. This data can also be mined for patterns and insights that can be used to improve staff efficiency.
Here are five ways healthcare organizations are applying these insights:
1. Infant Protection
The prevalence of Wi-Fi and a range of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies have transformed the field of infant protection and safety, especially with regard to extending visibility. These real-time location system (RTLS) solutions are now capable of leveraging a hospital’s standard wireless network to extend security past the mother/baby unit to cover the entire hospital. This is especially important given that travel outside the unit for tests or other purposes is a common occurrence. Since the location of the infant is known at all times, new levels of security are possible; for example, alerting staff if an infant is moved outside of a permitted area.
The benefits of these connected infant-protection systems extend beyond security to include an important patient safety application: the correct matching of mothers and infants to prevent breastfeeding by the wrong mother. The manual matching band system that hospitals rely on for this task is prone to human error. Advanced infant-protection solutions, on the other hand, provide important support to nursing staff by automating matching. Each mother wears a mother tag, and the infant tag confirms the correct match each time mother and baby are brought together.
2.Integrating Location Data into EHRs
The electronic medical record (EMR) system is the backbone of most hospitals’ health information system infrastructure, used by a wide range of staff members across the organization. Incorporating real-time patient- location data into the EMR enables hospitals to streamline and automate key aspects of patient flow for improved patient experience and operational efficiency. By sending real-time patient-location updates to the EMR, hospitals can automate processes and milestones, such as:
- Automated transfers based on patient-location changes;
- Automatic physician assignment in the emergency department; and
- Automatic notification to Environmental Services when a bed requires turnover.
Over time, the location information provides a vital extra data point for healthcare organizations to better understand where and how patient care is delivered, laying the ground for predictive analytics and modeling.
In an effort to improve the patient experience and increase HCAHPS patient-satisfaction scores, many hospitals are placing an increased focus on improving patient experience and care while simultaneously grappling with increasing patient volumes. A real-time patient-flow management system to monitor the progress of patients throughout their visit enables hospitals to both raise throughput and focus on an excellent patient experience. Visual dashboards show clinicians the current status of all patients and rooms so that they can quickly identity delays and take steps to keep schedules on track. These data give managers insight into changing performance day over day so that they can start to understand how to improve processes to reduce wait times and achieve more efficient transfer of patients across stages of care.
Visualization of these daily operational data with an analytics tool also allows administrators to see underlying trends for process improvement and to develop predictive models for anticipating patient loads along with staffing needs. With this more-complete picture of the patient journey, organizations can, for example, more accurately estimate patient volumes and staffing needs.
Part II of this article can be found here.
Steve Elder, senior marketing manager at STANLEY Healthcare