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RFID Gets to the Root of Surgical Services Problems

Florida Hospital uses real-time location data to understand why delays and bottlenecks occur, to improve OR performance and patient satisfaction.
By Samuel Greengard
Jul 11, 2016

Florida Hospital's Celebration Health, established in 1997 in the Disney-planned community of Celebration, Fla., was an early adopter of radio frequency identification technology. Florida Hospital "has used RFID in one form or another since around 2005," says Ashley Simmons, director of innovation development for Florida Hospital, which is part of the Adventist Health System. "In the early years, we relied on it for asset tracking and temperature monitoring, but we are now looking to use it far more extensively. There are huge opportunities to understand the flow of people and equipment—and bring greater insight and visibility to the business."

Celebration Health, which performs nearly 10,000 surgeries annually, turned to RFID to rethink, remap and reinvent the fundamental way it delivers surgical services. "Providing an excellent patient experience has become a priority for hospitals," Simmons says. "Hospital managers needed to know why a procedure was delayed, not just that a problem occurred, in order to take action to improve processes and patient care."

Left) Patients are identified with AeroScout tags attached with wristbands. (Right) The visual dashboards allow staff members to proactively manage patient throughput and staff scheduling. (Photos: Florida Hospital)
That meant using RFID to get answers to complex questions: What's the root cause of bottlenecks that prevent on-time surgeries? How can we optimize room utilization? What information is required for effective in-the-moment decisions? How can we enhance the patient and family experience? To that end, Florida Hospital partnered with Stanley Healthcare to deploy an RFID real-time location system (RTLS) and build a platform with dashboards for analyzing real-time and historical data.

In 2015, the RFID initiative—now called the OR Patient Flow solution—was implemented in Celebration Health's pre-op bays, 11 operating-room and two endoscopy suites, the 14-bed post-anesthesia care (PACU) unit, 31 patient rooms in the acute-care unit and the surgical waiting room. The hospital has real-time visibility into the location of patients, nurses, equipment and other assets. The data is used to enhance patient flow, improve communications and expedite room turnover. A dashboard in the waiting room displays the status of patients for family members and friends. Moreover, by plugging the data into analytics tools, "we are able to put the data to work to manage space and resources in a very efficient manner," Simmons says.

Rethinking Care
Florida Hospital launched a broad RFID initiative in 2010. "At that time, we began building a new patient facility on the Celebration Health campus, and we wanted to make it a living laboratory for innovation," Simmons says. Florida Hospital introduced a Center for Innovative Patient Care and formed a crossfunctional team, including representatives from administration, IT, nursing and surgical services, to oversee IT development and identify opportunities to put RFID and other technologies to work.

Once the team members began exploring how to collect, manage and use data to improve workflows, they quickly realized that real-time information generated automatically with an RFID RTLS solution was essential to the project. The hospital brought in Stanley Healthcare, which acquired AeroScout, to serve as the team's implementation partner.

"We didn't want to follow people around and create a Hawthorne effect, in which people know they are being studied and they change their behavior," Simmons says. "We wanted to have an accurate understanding of what they really do. What's more, instead of the data reporting taking days or weeks, the facility wanted to move to a platform that would tap real-time location services." This would allow the facility to optimize scheduling and understand events on a minute-by-minute basis by studying the routes and movements of doctors, nurses and other health-care workers as they go about their daily tasks. "We could see how, by taking a different approach, we could reduce waste and increase collaboration among the teams," Simmons explains.

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