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RTLS Aims to Bring Calm and Order to Emergency Department

With a Tagnos RTLS solution that tracks the movements of patients and staff members, St. Joseph Hospital has reduced throughput times and decreased the number of patients who leave before being seen by 30 percent
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 22, 2019

Patients admitted into the emergency department of St. Joseph Hospital, located in Orange, Calif., are being served faster on average, and fewer are leaving without being seen, thanks to a real-time location system (RTLS) that tracks the movements of both patients and healthcare providers. The solution employs a management solution provided by healthcare technology solutions company Tagnos, with RTLS wristbands and receivers—both supplied by CenTrak—installed throughout the emergency department and related screening and care areas.

The hospital is able to capture, view and create analytics around the locations of patients as they move through the treatment process, as well as the locations and statuses of healthcare providers. After using the technology for a year, the hospital reports that it has ensured more patients are seen at a timelier rate. St. Joseph Hospital of Orange is one of 51 Providence St. Joseph Health facilities, part of the third largest not-for-profit hospital system in the United States. It offers 75 specialty programs and has a busy ER that treats more than 82,000 patients annually.

St. Joseph Hospital's facility in Orange, Calif.
Emergency departments, by nature, have a chaotic environment, says Neeraj Bhavani, Tagnos's CEO, which makes it difficult to provide consistent, rapid care while also ensuring the safety of patients and staff members. Tagnos has built a solution for EDs that he says is intended to provide real-time alerting in a targeted way, to bring order to the department without sounding alarms or creating distractions that could add stress to such an environment. The company indicates its solution is aimed at silently capturing location data and providing that information to users, only when they want it, thereby improving the hospital's operations.

Before implementing the RTLS technology, St. Joseph Hospital was challenged with the generally unpredictable nature of patient flow. "We struggled with the same throughput issues most large-volume EDs struggle with," says Glenn Raup, St. Joseph Hospital's executive director of emergency services. Those challenges included better understanding door-to-discharge and door-to-hospital-admission times.

The system is intended to address other process issues as well, such as measuring the amount of time between a patient's assignment to an examination room and the arrival of a healthcare provider, the time between that patient's admission and discharge, and the time between the provider's visit and the patient's discharge. "These process time challenges ultimately, in turn, impact overall quality outcome measures," Raup says, such as patient satisfaction and treatment times for the most urgent cases: stroke or heart attack patients, as well as those suffering from sepsis.

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