Columbia Basin Health Association, a three-site rural care provider in Othello, Wash., has adopted real-time location service technology to enhance patient flow.

Administrators at the practice say they expect the new technology will help clinicians more easily locate patients, and they'll be able to tell how long they've been waiting for care.

“By reducing wait times and overall visit times, we’re hoping to see an increase in the percentage of patients who rate their visit as excellent in weekly surveys,” says Dulcye Field, chief operating officer.

At its newest outpatient clinic, Columbia Basin has gone live on the patient flow and real-time location system of Versus Advantages, enabling staff to analyze and adjust patient flow based on data displayed on electronic white boards at any given moment. Nearly 400 patients are seen daily at the outpatient facility. Patients, providers and staff members wear locator badges that automatically update processes and locations.

Colored panels outside each exam room let staff see rooms currently available, occupied or needing to be cleaned, and whether the patient is ready for the clinician. For now, staff members are fine-tuning processes and expect to see improved performance soon, according to Field.

Also See: How to get more value out of RTLS technology

The next step for the organization will be adoption of retrospective data analytics, also from Versus, that will view existing data to pinpoint processes within a visit that can be improved, such as resource utilization, time spent with patients by clinicians and staff, and more efficient scheduling of appointments.

Columbia Basin also will use Versus tags to track medical equipment, Field says. “Staff is always looking for EKG machines, wheelchairs and IV pumps. I’d like to know how often certain items are used. Do we really need to purchase more equipment, or does the equipment need to be more conveniently located for staff?” The clinic also will track handwashing procedures to aid in complying with Joint Commission requirements to audit hand hygiene practices.

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