Real-time location systems (RTLS) technology is used within healthcare facilities to achieve efficiencies. It’s typically used to track a variety of movements of assets such as patient flow, staff, and equipment and refrigeration monitoring.

Florida Hospital System now expects to add building design to the list of benefits.

The technology is being used to help design a third tower at Florida Hospital Celebration Health, part of the system, using lessons learned from using RTLS in the existing second tower.

With work expected to begin on the third tower at Florida Hospital Celebration Health later this year, the hospital recently started using analytics tools from its RTLS vendor, Stanley Healthcare, along with data from the system to assess the layout of the existing second tower and find out where space can be saved in that tower and the third tower to accommodate additional offices in both buildings.

Tower 3 will essentially be identical to Tower 2, but lessons learned by analyzing the layout of Tower 2 can be used in Tower 3, says Scott Bond a director of operations at Florida Hospital. For instance, the big lesson learned analyzing medical-surgical units in Tower 2 was that no one really understood optimal utilization of the space in Tower 2 and how patients and staff flow through medical-surgical units.

Florida Hospital Celebration Health
Florida Hospital Celebration Health

“We learned of all the scenarios of patient flow we never knew before, because the data shows it to you,” Bond adds. “You become accustomed to how daily flows are, so you don’t think about it.”

In Tower 2, all patient rooms are on the outside part of the building with nursing stations on the other side in the front and back. But the nursing station in the back was larger than it needed to be, so the station was reduced in size, and that opened room for a few more offices. Those findings can be incorporated into the layout of Tower 3, thus saving remodeling costs.

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The big lesson learned was that no one really understood utilization of the space in Tower 2 and how patients and staff flow the two medical-surgical units. Now, analyses are being done to better understand utilization of other rooms in Tower 2, such as the front and back medication rooms, and equipment storage, food nutrition and supply rooms to see if more space can be freed up. Whatever additional space they can find through analysis will be designed into Tower 3, Bond says.

Analyzing patient and staff flows supported by RTLS data already is reaping patient care benefits in Tower 2 that will be incorporated into the third tower. Previously, patients out of surgery and ready for the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) waited while phone calls were made to transport the patient.

“Now, we use electronic dashboards to track patients and alert nurses that in 30 minutes a patient will be transferred to PACU,” Bond says. The result: phone calls dropped 90 percent, and PACU hold times are being met 75 percent of the time.

Further, surgical case starts are being analyzed to improve on-time performance for the beginning and completion of surgeries, using data from the RTLS to show when the nurse came in the surgical suite, when the patient came, when the surgeon and anesthesiologist saw the patient, and when they came in the surgical suite. In the morning, “if you don’t start each case in each room at the same time, you’ll be behind all day,” Bond notes.

Turnover teams also are being analyzed to see how quickly they can prepare a surgical suite for the next operation and where bottlenecks may lie. For instance, if turnover members are leaving the surgical suite several times during cleanup, they might be picking up other items elsewhere that should be added to the tools already used for cleanup and preparation.

In short, analytics brings home the message of just how much movement there is in medical-surgical units and how inefficient these units can be, Bond says. “There are ants moving everywhere. Software gives you the reality of how operations in the unit flow.”

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