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RTLS Lifts Patient Satisfaction and Efficiency at Stanford Children's Health

The clinic is using a real-time location system to identify the locations of patients, personnel and assets, to ensure that patients are treated quickly and staff members can find the items they seek, as well as their colleagues.
By Claire Swedberg

Two 55-inch video screens are installed in the staff area of each department throughout the facility. Using data collected from the RTLS software, the screens show where individuals and assets are located, and also display a list of which patients are waiting. When a patient arrives for an appointment, his or her physician can see that the individual is present.

Once the exam room is ready, a staff member accesses the RTLS software to determine the patient's location, proceeds to the patient in that room and zone, and escorts her to the exam room. The software then tracks how long the patient remains alone, when the nurse visits that patient and when she is ready to see the physician. This data is also displayed on the 55-inch screens for physicians and other staff members.

Many of the clinic's personnel, including Barry Behr, director of the facility's IVF and ART labs, wear a Clearview badge, which comes with a button that can be pressed to summon assistance.
When a patient's visit is completed, the technology identifies when that individual leaves, based on the badge reads, and can update the room's status as ready for cleaning. The patient is then reminded to return the badge by placing it in a box that reads the badge's ID number and updates that visit as completed. After the badge is cleaned, it can then be reused by another patient. Additional return boxes are installed at the building's doorway, with signage reminding those who have not already turned in their badges to place them within the box. Staff members make phone calls to patients who appear to have inadvertently taken theirs home despite these reminders.

Some employees are full-timers who have Clearview badges dedicated to them, while others—such as the many physicians who are onsite periodically—have badges assigned to them every time they arrive for work. Staff members can use the system to locate each other, and to find equipment they need without having to physically search for it.

A total of about 500 sensors are installed throughout the facility. Some sensors are used to identify the specific exam room in which a given individual is located, while others provide bed-level granularity—in the procedure recovery area, for instance.

The clinic has been serving 100 to 200 patients daily, Kwiatkowski reports, though that number is ramping up. The facility expects 40,000 patient visits during its first year. Since its opening about six weeks ago, Kwiatkowski says, he has been pleasantly surprised by the results in terms of customer satisfaction. The satisfaction scores, he explains, tend to reflect wait times and the information available to patients about their wait (the cause of the delay, for example, or what services are coming next), and the scores from patients at the clinic have been the highest that the health-care company has ever seen. According to Kwiatkowski, several physicians have already determined that, based on the technology, they can accomplish more visits per day than they did at the previous facility on the Stanford University campus. This has boosted the satisfaction levels of doctors and other employees as well.

Kwiatkowski says he and his team are now examining the analytics to determine what they can learn about the clinic's efficiency, where bottlenecks occur, and how well patient scheduling matches the abilities of employees and the facility to serve patients in a timely manner. "If there's a problem, we can see where things broke down," Kwiatkowski states, adding that it will still take time to sort through those details.

Stanford Children's Health is currently in the process of expanding its Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford facility. The company plans to install the same Versus technology at that hospital, primarily for asset tracking, once the expansion opens in approximately a year.

USER COMMENTS

George Donahue 2016-06-30 03:48:25 AM
Sometimes I see elderly in the hospital waiting for their turn, and they are often lost and confused. This is definitely something that should be addressed.

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