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Sanford Health Opens New RTLS-enabled "Patient-Centric" Facility

The Midwest health-care provider installed a real-time location system to manage the flow of patients, personnel and assets through examination rooms and common areas, to improve the efficiency of its medical centers and boost patient satisfaction.
By Claire Swedberg
May 05, 2014

Sanford Health, a nonprofit health-care system operator with locations in 126 communities throughout nine U.S. states, has opened a new "patient-centric" clinic in Moorhead, Minn. that, it says, reverses many traditions related to patient care—and it is enabling that shift with real-time location system (RTLS) technology. The new hospital features RTLS technology provided by RFID Global Solution, using Sonitor Technologies' Sonitor Sense system with ultrasound tags, emitters (location beacons) known as Sense Transmitters and software supplied by Intelligent InSites. Sanford's aim was to launch a new medical center at which patients would no longer sit in waiting rooms and examination rooms for extended periods of time, but would instead flow through the facility quickly and efficiently, with a minimum of waiting time.

Sanford Health is presently in the process of installing a similar RTLS solution at its medical center in Fargo, N.D., and plans to do the same at its USD Medical Center, located in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Sanford's Jeff Hoss
Sanford began looking into RTLS solutions in 2010 as it prepared to upgrade several clinics, as well as open its new clinic in Moorhead, says Jeff Hoss, the VP of Sanford Clinic Fargo, which includes the Moorhead site. The health-care company had been exploring RTLS technology for years, he explains, and sought to use it to monitor events, rather than track individuals or assets. The goal, he says, was to identify when each service had been provided to a particular patient, based on staff and patient location data, and to thereby find ways to better predict workflow, improve patient-service efficiency based on RTLS data, and catch any delays in real time. Hoss had visited sites of other RTLS deployments, including at Washington's Virginia Mason Hospital and Seattle Medical Center.

The company has spent several years working with Intelligent InSites, says Doug Burgum, Intelligent InSites' chairman and interim CEO, to develop a system that would automatically collect data regarding the movements of patients, personnel and assets, in order to improve efficiency and patient satisfaction. Sanford approached Sonitor, which then contracted with RFID Global Solution to install and integrate Sonitor's hardware at the Moorhead site. RFID Global is now in the process of installing the same solution at Sanford Health's Fargo center, with the Sioux Falls site to follow, says Thomas Manzagol, RFID Global Solution's founder and COO.

The 49,000-square-foot Moorhead facility is divided into two sections: the onstage area (where patients are treated) and offstage (offices, laboratories and other areas where staff members work). In the offstage area, the center has installed a status board—a video monitor that displays data from the Intelligent InSites software indicating which patients are in which areas, as well as their status. The software resides on Sanford's own server, sharing data with the company's EPIC hospital-management system.

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