West Virginia Clinic Cuts Patient Wait Times With RFID

By Claire Swedberg

Stanley Healthcare's MobileView Analytics platform is helping Davis Medical Center to identify the average wait and visit times for each patient, and to improve efficiency based on that data.

After reducing wait times for patients at its outpatient clinic, Elkins W.Va. health-care facility Davis Medical Center, a Davis Health System hospital, is now preparing to expand its use of radio frequency identification technology to include environmental monitoring and asset management. The technology—Stanley Healthcare's AeroScout Patient Flow Solution with MobileView Analytics—has enabled the clinic to reduce the length of typical patient visits to below its one-hour goal. Additionally, the company reports, patient wait times now average less than 10 minutes.

The system was installed in early 2014 using the MobileView software platform, Stanley's ultrasound exciters and Wi-Fi RFID tags to identify the locations of individuals moving through its outpatient center. The MobileView Analytics system, added last year, enables the clinic to analyze averages and other details, and to thereby further improve wait times by modifying scheduling or other operations to optimize efficiency.

Davis Medical Center's Tiffany Auvil

The RFID system was taken live in Davis Medical Center's new 82,000-square-foot facility that provides outpatient services, to monitor wait times and identify bottlenecks. The clinic then spent five months evaluating the technology's performance with the analytics functionality, between May 2016 and late last fall.

On a typical day, the two-story outpatient clinic (which houses approximately 55 examining rooms) serves 200 to 250 patients for family practice, pediatrics, women's care, podiatry and surgery. During the coming months, the medical center plans to expand its facility to an additional floor that will bring more patients and health-care providers to the clinic.

"We've had a massive growth since 2015," says Tiffany Auvil, Davis Medical Center's lead LPN and point-of-care testing coordinator. The clinic serves six counties in West Virginia. "There are some health-care offices where patients may expect to be there all day, or for three to four hours," Auvil says. "We don't want to be one of those offices."

So far, based on the RFID-based measurements, the clinic has reduced average wait times from nine to 14 minutes down to only five to seven minutes within family practice. Podiatry's wait time has dropped from 14 minutes on average to 9.7 minutes, while general surgery waits have been cut from 10 minutes to 6.9 minutes.

Overall visit times are down as well, the company reports. Women's health care is 10 minutes below the goal of a 60-minute visit, while pain management, orthopedics and general surgery have reduced visit times below that goal by five, eight and five minutes, respectively.

With the RFID system in place, each patient and every health-care provider or nurse wears a Stanley Healthcare T2s RFID tag so that his or her location can be identified as that person moves throughout the clinic. As each patient arrives, he or she is handed a badge, along with an information card, known as a Badge Buddy, that explains how the technology works and why it is being used. The patient is instructed to attach the badge above waist level for proper transmission.

Each RFID badge is linked to the corresponding patient's ID number in the software. Stanley Healthcare installed exciters within each examination room, as well in hallways and waiting rooms. As a tag comes within range of an ultrasound exciter, the tag will capture that transmission, then respond by transmitting its own ID to the clinic's existing Wi-Fi access points, along with that of the exciter.

The clinic also has several monitors, known as MobileView Visibility Boards, installed at the end of the hallways on the first two floors, which display each patient ID and location, as well as color-coded highlighting, indicating wait times. The software tracks how long an individual remains in a specific location and updates his or her status to a yellow or red warning color on the screen if that patient has been waiting longer than the expected amount of time.

Nurses and physicians have their own badges that are linked to their own ID, which they keep with them, while medical students can pick up a staff/student visitor's badge with which their movements can be tracked while they are onsite. Health-care providers whose offices are not near the monitors can also view the MobileView dashboard to check on the locations of their patients from a laptop or tablet."MobileView makes it much easier for each provider to understand their workflow," Auvil says.

The clinic can use analysis tools built into the MobileView Platform to optimize scheduling and patient flow, says Sagi Geva, Stanley Healthcare's senior manager for health-care solutions and analytics. "The idea is to provide actionable data," he says, noting that the software enables users to respond to problems in real time, while analysis provides another level of intelligence. "We spent quite a bit of time establishing a baseline," Auvil adds.

Davis Medical Center can view the amount of time spent on each patient visit per department, day of the week, shift or specific health-care provider. The clinic intends to continue adjusting scheduling to shorten wait times for patients, Geva reports. "Analytics are a huge part of this solution for understanding workflow," he states.

Stanley Healthcare's Sagi Geva

During the past month, Auvil says, Davis Medical Center has been distributing satisfaction questionnaires to patients after their visits. The scores, she adds, have been encouraging.

The next phase will be the installation of T5 environmental-monitoring tags to track the temperatures within coolers and freezers in which medications, tissue samples and lab specimens are stored. In this case, tags will capture temperature readings and transmit that data to the MobileView software via a Wi-Fi connection. "This will help reduce manual collection of data,"Auvil says, while also preventing the loss of a freezer's or cooler's contents in the event of a problem, such as a power failure at night, or at some other time when employees might not otherwise notice.

The clinic is also using the technology to track the locations of some assets, such as electrocardiogram (EKG) machines.