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Karmanos Cancer Institute Seeks to Eliminate Bottlenecks Via RTLS

The center's new clinic has begun using Versus' real-time location system to track the location and status of patients and staff members, with the goal of improving patient flow and reducing wait times.
By Claire Swedberg
The RTLS solution consists of Versus' IR and RFID VER-1952 Clearview badges, IR sensors and RFID sensors (readers), as well as Versus Advantages RTLS software. The technology will help workers "to gain a sense of what the system can do for us," Fedoronko states. Initially, the software is being used to measure the wait times that patients experience between checking in and undergoing triage (which involves having their blood pressure and other vital signs checked prior to a physician's examination), along with the full amount of time spent at a visit.

Upon arriving at the clinic, a patient first checks in and provides his or her name. The cancer center's staff is already prepared for that individual's visit, with his or her data loaded into the Versus Advantages software, residing on a dedicated server, for that day's visit. The patient can inform the office staff of any special requests, such as requiring help from a specific type of staff member, and that information can also be input into the system, to be shared with care providers throughout the visit. The front-desk staff then issues one of Karmanos' 115 Clearview badges to the patient, by scanning the bar code printed on the back of the badge and associating that ID with that person in the Versus software.

Each staff member is also assigned a badge, the unique ID number of which is permanently associated with that individual. Upon arriving at the beginning of a shift, an employee removes the assigned badge from a dedicated storage cabinet and clips it on to his or her uniform. At the end of that shift, the worker then returns the badge to the cabinet.

A total of 90 IR sensors have been installed throughout the new clinic, with at least one sensor in each room. After checking in for an appointment, a patient waits to be called into one of 29 examining rooms. As patients and staff members move about the cancer center, the IR sensors capture the ID number transmitted by each badge, and forward that location data to the Versus Advantages software. Six RFID readers also capture each ID number via the badge's 433 MHz transmission, using a proprietary air-interface protocol, in order to provide redundancy.

The clinic has installed four dedicated 42-inch screens, known as "Glance and Go" boards, each of which provides employees with a map of the floor plan, as well as the status of patients located within each room (for example, with a physician, or awaiting a doctor). The staff can also view icons representing specific personnel. If a patient's status necessitates a task on the part of the staff—such as sending in a doctor to speak with a patient waiting alone in an examining room, or assigning workers to clean an empty room—the system flags this need by changing the room's color or adding a timer to that patient's icon.

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