Leveraging Actionable Data and Location Insights for Enhanced Healthcare Outcomes

Updated on May 16, 2023
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As healthcare progresses and digital innovations become integral, the primary drivers continue to focus on patient outcomes, financial benefit to the organization, and optimizing the multi-disciplinary teams that make up a modern healthcare organization. Many of the top healthcare systems have already adopted—or are in the process of—implementing advanced technology to automate manual processes for staff and proactively communicate with patients and families, all while collecting and utilizing the vast data being captured for actionable operational benefits within hospitals. This is an exciting time where the data gathered from patients, staff, mobile medical equipment, and unique locations is bringing tangible, quantifiable outcomes. Healthcare organizations must harness technology, such as real-time location systems (RTLS), and leverage the data they offer to facilitate stronger communication among patients, staff, and loved ones while optimizing efficiency and care quality.

Healthcare facilities depend on analyzed data to make well-informed decisions. Big data in healthcare can uncover hidden patterns, market trends, unexplored relationships, and customer preferences to inform clinical and business decisions. With regard to RTLS and other digital transformations in healthcare, real-time data delivers actionable insights into clinical workflows, asset utilization, and patient experiences to inform a wide range of improvements and savings. Armed with these insights, healthcare leaders can leverage this actionable data to guide core decisions and achieve facility-wide or unit objectives in innovative ways.

Actionable Analytics Bolster Clinical Workflow

RTLS was designed with clinicians in mind, streamlining administrative tasks and allowing clinicians to focus on what matters most – their patients. Efficient workflow solutions automate operations and communications (self-check-in, patient status, family texting, staff views) to minimize the burden of manual documentation required throughout each phase of clinical care and enhance visibility across units. RTLS’ IoT-enabled badges and tags facilitate data collection on a large scale, yielding real-time insights, views, and documentation of clinical workflows.

Equipping healthcare professionals with comprehensive visibility empowers staff to track each component throughout a healthcare facility or unit – the patient journey, equipment status, staff updates, and interactions between these elements – ensuring that daily workflows run smoothly, and staff know which tasks to prioritize. The reliable data provided by comprehensive visibility in healthcare is now more vital than ever, ensuring that staff are on the same page and that any bottlenecks are appropriately addressed.

Recognizing an opportunity to re-evaluate technology’s role in enhancing patient experiences and operations, Texas Health Resources (THR) leveraged a construction project to develop a next-generation wireless system offering RTLS for workflow automation and increased visibility. This decision automated non-value-added tasks and provided insights on operational improvements. By employing a custom algorithm to prioritize tasks related to patient care, patient transport, patient flow, and capacity management, efficiency soared by allocating 100% of staff resources to critical operations during peak times and administrative tasks to off-peak hours. By incorporating facility-wide data into decision-making, THR reported $1 million in first-year savings and achieved over 90% in both patient satisfaction and employee engagement.

Data Streamlines Asset Management

With the successful implementation of smart technology, a healthcare system can reduce annual costs, better support healthcare professionals, and address the rising expectations of patients. Enabling staff with fundamental asset visibility is the initial step towards achieving an operationally efficient healthcare environment. It has been reported that one-third of nurses spend at least one hour during an average shift searching for equipment. Knowing the location of essential mobile medical equipment (MME) significantly reduces the time staff spend looking for equipment, improving staff efficiency and job satisfaction, and facilitating faster patient care.

Ensuring all mobile medical equipment is in stock, clean, and readily available is crucial for timely and safe care. Healthcare facilities can upgrade their asset tracking solution with room-level locating to automate workflows such as PAR-level management, preventative maintenance management functions, and equipment distribution. RTLS can notify clinical support staff when adequate PAR levels are at risk and trigger automated workflows for replenishment orders. The data provided by asset management effectively addresses equipment distribution and maintenance challenges. Hospital administrators and other key personnel can utilize historical data and robust data analytics to increase equipment utilization and prevent over-purchasing.

Faced with the need to tackle significant inefficiencies related to managing mobile medical equipment, Mission Hospital employed location services to monitor the location, cleaning, and maintenance of equipment, solving distribution and maintenance issues that were reducing time spent on patient care. Following implementation and the ability to review operational bottlenecks and leverage comprehensive visibility, the hospital experienced a significant decrease in the rate of lost devices, an annual savings of $200,000, and a 50% increase in nurse satisfaction. The asset management tool enhanced Mission’s equipment utilization and resolved equipment challenges, reducing the time nurses spent searching and eliminating patient wait time for critical equipment necessary for care.

Insights Elevate Patient Experience

For many, healthcare facilities can be overwhelming and daunting campuses that must be navigated promptly. First impressions matter, and optimizing the patient journey begins at the outset, often before the appointment. Digital wayfinding and interactive campus maps offer user-friendly indoor and outdoor navigation that efficiently guides users to their destinations, providing patients and visitors with the digital amenities they expect in their daily lives.

These GPS-like solutions address an immediate need with a familiar approach that is easy for facilities to implement. Building floor plans are transformed into interactive, user-friendly maps that can be viewed by patients, staff, and visitors on a webpage or mobile application for directions anywhere throughout the campus.

These tools help patients experience reduced stress and anxiety and significantly increase their chances of arriving on time for their appointments. Navigation concerns can become a substantial obstacle in the patient journey. Studies have shown that patients are more likely to attend scheduled appointments when they receive navigational assistance. On the provider side, U.S. hospitals collectively lose $150 billion each year due to missed appointments, with each no-show appointment costing the industry an estimated $200. Costly delays caused by late arrivals or missed visits can be avoided when patients feel at ease and have a clear understanding of their travel path.

Advanced wayfinding platforms provide a comprehensive patient-centric solution, including EHR integrations for real-time appointment reminders with directions to the nearest parking area, turn-by-turn navigation, popular points-of-interest, and custom routing such as wheelchair-accessible paths. Information can be easily sent via email, SMS, push notification from the client’s mobile app, or patient portals such as Epic MyChart. Facility decision-makers can then view data on the most visited or searched locations, gaining insights on the places patients are most often seeking to further enhance the user experience.

Harness RTLS for Actionable Data

Equipping healthcare professionals with cutting-edge tools, real-time insights, and reducing their involvement in non-patient-oriented tasks are significant steps toward improving staff satisfaction, patient outcomes, and the facility’s bottom line. RTLS offer the support that resource-constrained healthcare teams need most and the data necessary to make timely, informed decisions. Automated data collection and reporting ensure accuracy and provide decision-makers and healthcare professionals with the insights they need to prioritize tasks that promote high-quality care, safety, and efficiency.

Scott Hondros, MHA, SCPM is the Vice President of Professional Services at CenTrak, which offers locating, sensing, and security solutions for the healthcare industry. CenTrak has helped more than 2,000 healthcare organizations around the world build a safer, more efficient enterprise. For more information, visit www.centrak.com.

Scott Hondros
Scott Hondros

Scott Hondros, MHA, SCPM is the Vice President of Professional Services at CenTrak, which offers locating, sensing, and security solutions for the healthcare industry. CenTrak has helped more than 2,000 healthcare organizations around the world build a safer, more efficient enterprise. For more information, visit www.centrak.com.