Location-based technologies in healthcare operations management

Managing operations at a health care facility is a complex endeavor. Location-based technologies can simplify the automatic collection of data whose analysis may lead to operational improvements that can enhance patient care while significantly lowering cost. Location awareness can be a powerful tool in healthcare operations management.

Staff Finding

Navigating using floor plan viewsHospitals and healthcare facilities are dynamic environments. Pinpointing where  staff members are at any time throughout the facility can be challenging, particularly during the busiest hours.  When intervention by the staff is required to address a need at a specific location, having the ability to determine who is closest can be a convenient way of making task assignments on the fly.   The results can be obvious: less disruption to everyone’s workload, better service to patients, and added flexibility in assigning resources.

Solution:  Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor locates and tracks in real time individuals’ Wi-Fi enabled smartphones and/or Wi-Fi tags.  Accuware Magic Touch enables the association of a given device (its MAC address) with a specific person.

Patient Flow

Accuware Analytics: Unique visitors last 6 hoursHaving visibility of patient locations in real-time and historically over time can provide powerful insights as to quality of service, efficiency of the staff, availability of resources, and patient processing.  This may be especially true of the emergency services, where the unexpected influx of patients into the Emergency Room may lead to long delays in service and poor patient flow.  Beyond the ER, service bottlenecks in one department may trigger poor patient flow on the efficiency of other departments downstream.  In these situations, everyone suffers: patients may perceive a sub-standard service, staff may be stressed and frustrated and the hospital may be negatively impacted from a business reputation standpoint.  Patient flow analysis may provide a clear picture of the situation, leading to improvements in the service processes and/or staffing changes.

Solution:  Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor by itself can track anyone carrying a Wi-Fi enabled device throughout the entire facility.  Once admitted, patients may be fitted with a Wi-Fi tag for identification, which can enable tracking not only for patient flow but also for infection management and  safety-related features like “wireless nurse calls”.

Business Intelligence

The ability to track the whereabouts of staff, patients, visitors and assets inVisitor Traffic Heat Map real time and historically, over time provides a unique opportunity for gaining useful insights about a healthcare facility’s operations.

How much time do staff members spend tending to patients?  How much time is consumed by searching for needed equipment or supplies?  What’s the average wait time for a patient wanting to check in? What are the best and worst times for equipment to be serviced when it’s up for maintenance?  Where are the bottlenecks in patient flow?  What are the bottlenecks in getting access to needed equipment?

Solution:  Combining Wi-Fi tags affixed to equipment and people with Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor tracking in real-time and historically,  enables comprehensive and deep understanding of the inner workings of a healthcare unit.  A detailed and comprehensive view of the actual processes has the unique potential to inform decision making, improve outcome for patients, increase staff safety and effectiveness, and reduce operational costs.

Process Automation

Many tasks in a healthcare facility can be automated or streamlined for Health Care Workers in the Hospitalgreater efficiency based on location.  For example, the ability to trigger a maintenance work order for a malfunctioning equipment at the push of a button while indicating its current location. Or  to route a follow up request to the staff member physically closest to the problem area.  Or even to notify of a possible contamination all those who may have come in contact with a source of infection.  These are some of the many ways in which location-awareness can inform process automation procedures in a healthcare facility resulting in higher efficiency and lower cost.

Solution:  Combining Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor, custom Wi-Fi tags, Accuware Hub and Accuware Magic Touch provides a platform for a location-aware automated system that leverages  real-time and historical location information about people and assets.  The results are higher efficiency and lower operating cost.

Messaging & Alerts

Health Care Workers at the HospitalRoutine equipment maintenance, safety inspections, disinfection procedures and operational audits may take place at various times at different locations in a facility.  Staff entering the affected area may need to be reminded or notified that such activities are in progress.  There are many instances, such as the above, when automated messages targeting a specific location can be useful as opposed to blanket announcements to the entire staff, which may quickly turn into background noise.

Solution:  Accuware Hub provides a simple mechanism for delivering location-based messages to smart phones and tablets that are registered with the system.  By itself, Accuware Hub can deliver text messages. In combination with a custom app, it can easily enable extending location-based messaging to patients and visitors to automatically welcome them, and provide reminders and/or instructions for their care.

Eliminating Operational Bottlenecks

Medical equipmentAnalyzing how business processes actually work can provide insights into their effectiveness. It is often possible to detect inefficiencies whose elimination yields higher-quality outcomes for patients, increased flexibility for the staff and improved asset utilization.  Having access to the detailed history of equipment demand, usage, maintenance, breakdowns and idle time can provide valuable information for streamlining operations, improving patient and staff satisfaction.

Solution:  Affixing Wi-Fi tags to valuable assets enables Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor to automatically collect detailed data of their whereabouts for detailed analysis by Lean and Six Sigma initiatives.

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