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Texas Ophthalmology Clinics to Address Wait Times With RTLS

The Key-Whitman Eye Center is installing a hybrid IR and RFID system from Versus to reduce patients' wait times and visit lengths.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 01, 2012The Key-Whitman Eye Center, a Texas ophthalmic services provider with clinics in Dallas, Arlington and Plano, prides itself in providing cutting-edge medical services using the latest technologies (such as LASIK laser eye surgery). The reputation it has earned, however, has also led to some very traditional problems—namely, long waits for patients arriving at its two largest clinics for examinations, tests and surgical procedures.

A real-time location system (RTLS) provided by Versus Technology, using infrared (IR) and radio frequency identification technologies, is expected to solve the problem, says Dan Chambers, Key-Whitman's chief administrative officer. By tracking the movements of patients, staff members and doctors throughout the facility, the eye center hopes to gain a better understanding of where and for how long patients remain at one or more locations, as well as the amount of time they spend with care providers. This information will not only enable the staff to address problems in real time (such as a patient spending an excessive amount of time alone waiting for services), but also provide valuable information for business analysis at the end of the day, week or month.


Key-Whitman's Dan Chambers
Key-Whitman plans to take the Versus Advantages Clinic Module system live next month—first at the Dallas clinic, where between 120 and 140 patients are seen daily, and shortly thereafter at the Plano clinic, where as many as 100 patients visit each day. The third clinic, located in Arlington, is smaller and thus would not benefit from the technology, the company reports.

By nature, Chambers says, the procedures and patient flow at the two larger clinics are constantly changing, since visits and services vary considerably. The Dallas clinic provides surgical procedures, as well as examinations and other basic eye-care services, and a patient's visit can often last hours as that person moves from one area (where, for example, he or she might receive eyedrops to dilate the irises) to another (such as an examining room). If unexpected testing is deemed necessary based on an exam's results, the patient will then be moved into yet another area of the 20,000-square-foot clinic. For some patients, this can mean spending several hours within the center, and enduring long waits in the waiting room.

No surgical procedures take place at the Plano Clinic, and movement during visits can thus be simpler. However, the sheer quantity of patients at the 5,000-square-foot facility can lead to long waits as well.

USER COMMENTS

RFID Journal Reader 2012-12-11 02:53:14 PM
I am a skeptic here Wouldn't more staff cure this problem??
Reader 2013-02-06 05:39:36 PM
RE: I am a skeptic here More staff is not necessarily the answer. Moving forward it will be critical for all providers large and small to improve processes and efficiencies. More staff means more dollars. Under utilized staff is wasted money just as an under utilized piece of equipment is. More staff I think is one area to explore. How will you measure the impact of 1 staff member? The more variables you introduce the more challenging this becomes. A simple solution like this at least provides constant objective data. I know larger facilities such as hospitals implore numerous techniques to try an assist with challenges such as the one this article mentions. I will be paying close attention to this as health care regulations become more stringent and reimbursement becomes more difficult.

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