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Mackenzie Health's Innovation Unit Assesses RTLS

The 34-bed unit, created specifically for testing new technologies, has completed a yearlong pilot of hand-hygiene, patient-safety and bed-management applications, and is now exploring how to best use and permanently deploy the technology.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 17, 2015

Toronto regional health-care provider Mackenzie Health recently completed a yearlong first phase of a pilot project involving real-time location system (RTLS) technology to track staff movements, hand-hygiene compliance and bed safety for patients.

The organization is carrying out the pilot at its 34-bed Innovation Unit, located at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital. Mackenzie Health established this acute-care medical unit a year ago, and refers to it as "a living and breathing laboratory for innovations to be developed, evaluated and adopted by other patient care units at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital, as well as the new Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital." The RTLS solution has been provided by medical technologies firm Hill-Rom, a company that historically makes smart beds for health-care environments, and more recently also provides RTLS technology. Hill-Rom's solutions incorporate CenTrak RTLS badges, infrared (IR) sensors and RFID readers, while Hill-Rom's software manages the collected RTLS data.

Aviv Gladman, Mackenzie Health's chief medical information officer
Mackenzie Health created the Innovation Unit because it was interested in the technology available for health care, but also wanted a way to test some of that technology rather than fully adopting something that would not prove beneficial. "It comes down to this: There is some truly awesome technology that we can invest in and bring to our staff, and then find out they really don't need it, or won't use it," says Aviv Gladman, Mackenzie Health's chief medical information officer. By setting up an Innovation Unit, the staff can work with the technology in the actual health-care environment, he explains, and management can evaluate how technology changes health-care delivery and impacts patient care.

Mackenzie Health had implemented an RTLS solution within its hospital prior to deploying the application currently being tested at the Innovation Unit. The hospital still uses RTLS technology to track assets and equipment—such as beds, wheelchairs, IV pumps and crash carts—as well as other items. Active RFID tags are also used to monitor temperature, humidity and other environmental conditions.

Mackenzie Health's Richard Tam
"We found that the best way to test and evaluate innovation was to do so where the care actually happens," says Richard Tam, Mackenzie Health's executive VP and chief administrative officer.

For the RTLS pilot, the health-care organization is working with Hill-Rom, which also provides the smart beds that it uses at its hospitals. The first RTLS installation involved a hand-hygiene solution to identify the movements of employees as they enter and leave patient rooms, and to identify when they sanitize their hands.

Each staff member was provided with a battery-powered CenTrak RTLS badge that transmits a unique ID number linked to that individual in the Hill-Rom RTLS software.

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