Cicely Coleman, Marvin Hammerschmith and Douglas Duvall are IST systems analysts, PeaceHealth. For more on Versus Technology:

Having implemented patient, staff and asset tracking across seven departments, including enterprise-wide asset management, PeaceHealth has achieved a rare distinction as a veteran RTLS user. We have leveraged a single infrastructure to track more than 5,000 RTLS tags, driving automated workflows throughout our facility.

PeaceHealth Oregon West Network first introduced Versus Technology’s real-time locating system (RTLS) in 2006 as a test pilot in the emergency department (ED) of Sacred Heart Medical Center, University District. From that pilot, management at PeaceHealth understood RTLS provided:

  • Real-time situational awareness to staff;
  • Automation of communication; and
  • Unbiased metrics for process improvement.

These benefits enhance the patient experience – key to all design elements at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, which opened in 2008. We were sure to select an RTLS that was accurate down to bed-level locations, in order to automate as much as possible.

PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend opened in 2008.

Here is a highlight of some of the RTLS use cases we’ve deployed and the resulting effects.

Saving steps through patient-flow automation

Patient workflows in the ED, anesthesia clinic, labor and delivery, and mother and baby units were immensely improved after implementing RTLS.

Before Versus, patient flow in the ED was captured manually on a grease board (or two). But the data was never current. At RiverBend, we sometimes have 30 to 40 patients in the ED at one time – nearly impossible to keep up with on a grease board. Now, with Versus, information just flows automatically – and it’s up to date.

With the RTLS virtual communication boards, ED staff simply looks at a screen to identify next steps. Phone calls were reduced by 75 percent, doctor-to-bed times were reduced by 52 percent and our average length of stay (LOS) was reduced by 14 percent.

PeaceHealth healthcare specialists examine one of the Versus Technology RTLS virtual communication boards.

In the anesthesia clinic, “Versus ties it all together for us,” says Claire Rozman, clinic manager. “The Versus solution is priceless in regards to efficiency and the ability to save steps by seeing what’s going on.”

Rozman says, “One of the best parts about the system is that it allows us to communicate clinic status to the anesthesia group that works in a different hospital building. Before we could call for assistance, but it wasn’t an effective way to communicate. Now, the status of all patients is known in real time, all the time.”

Knowing where to go and when helps the clinic achieve immediate patient rooming.

In the labor and delivery and mother and baby units, our RTLS locates laboring mothers who may be walking the floor, communicates a baby’s status to all caregivers, cues when epidurals are needed and more.

“The system is very intuitive. Everyone utilizes it,” says Becky Moore, R.N. “There’s no way to explain what a difference it makes being able to communicate automatically via the virtual boards.”

Nursing smiles, bio-med smiles

Managing our equipment fleet across a facility the size of 23 football fields is no small feat. As a health system, patient care is our number one goal. Being able to achieve it while reducing costs is a great achievement.

PeaceHealth started with basic asset tracking and took it to another level by adding rules for automatic par-level management. RTLS has helped us:

  • Reduce IV pumps by 25 percent;
  • Eliminate the need for IV pump rentals; and
  • Guarantee that nursing has clean IV pumps available at all times.

PeaceHealth saved $600,000 the moment the IV pump par-level management went live. We calculate savings of $2.7 million over the next 10 years on IV pumps alone, not counting other tracked assets. More importantly, our nurses and patients always have the equipment they need, when they need it.

The move from grease boards to an RTLS system was imperative, because the PeaceHealth ED handles as many as 30 to 40 patients at any one time.

Mega metrics

As we constantly strive to achieve service excellence and operational efficiency, our clinical analysts appreciate unbiased, accurate RTLS data. The reporting package provides more than 40 standard reports to help with continuous improvement, plus the ability to build our own. By utilizing these tools we are able to measure value- and non-value-added activities to help increase the time our caregivers spend directly with patients.

Additional use cases looking forward

Our journey with RTLS is far from over. In addition to using the data for continual process improvement, we are also planning new ways to leverage the infrastructure. We are currently working on triggering an ED surge plan based on real-time metrics. And we’re evaluating the possibility of monitoring hand-hygiene compliance.

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