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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

Initially, Hoss says, the hospital intends to simply watch the data flow, and to determine what kind of data it is receiving and how effective it is. He expects that process to last for approximately three months, after which he hopes the company will use the data not only to move patients more efficiently, but also to track greater details about patients to further improve their service. For example, if a patient is accompanied by several small children, has specific medication concerns, or has problems with sitting alone for too long in an exam room, that data can also be linked to that patient's badge ID so that staff members can be alerted to that situation.

Hoss predicts the first few months will provide data indicating issues that employees and management had already suspected but had not been able to prove, such as the causes of delays or the specific times at which such delays occur most frequently.

The center is launching the system with 100 staff badges and 400 patient badges. At the end of a patient's visit, the last staff member to attend to that individual retrieves the patient's ID badge, after which it is cleaned and cancelled from the software, to be reused by another patient.

Deployments of the RTLS solution at other locations during later phases will include sites at Thief River Falls, Bismarck, Bemidji, Worthington, Dickinson and Aberdeen.

Sanford's implementation signals what Burgum calls a tipping point in RTLS deployments for health-care providers. "We've reached a point," he states, "where a growing number of health-care executives are recognizing there was a world before automatically identified data—and a world after automatically identified data." With the RTLS data, he adds, health-care companies have extensive knowledge about what happens at their facilities, and can thus determine ways in which to improve it. He calls Sanford a leader among health-care companies in selecting a system that will be used on an enterprise level, rather than for just a single department within a clinic.

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