New technologies tend to get a bad reputation before they are ever implemented within operations. There is a lingering fear that they will replace human jobs or that they will continuously malfunction, leaving them in the lurch. But technology isn’t a bad thing. It aims to improve the daily workload for individuals so that they can focus on more meaningful tasks. This is especially important in hospitals and other healthcare facilities where patient care could potentially be compromised if someone is too busy doing a different work-related task.
Mackenzie Health has recently invested in real-time location systems (RTLS) to improve care outcomes and help facilities managers make better and faster decisions. The RTLS from CenTrak works like an indoor GPS, providing location data that’s accurate to the room and bed level to other systems that can improve staff and patient safety. With the technology, managers can quickly locate medical equipment and improve utilization.
“The accuracy and certainty of a real-time locating system is crucial in a health care environment to support the automation of clinical workflows, so there is no tolerance for any error or uncertainty of the location data,” says Felix Zhang, Chief Technology Officer, Mackenzie Health. “We use CenTrak RTLS to identify the location of a patient bed. We map it with the patient’s admission data in the electronic medical record to automatically pair the patient with the bed. The bed will then trigger events and alert nurses based on the patient’s movements or changes in conditions. If a patient who is identified to be at risk of a fall attempts to leave their bed on their own, the bed will send an alert to the health care worker’s mobile device to attend to the patient to prevent a fall.”
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Prior to deploying the RTLS, Mackenzie Health and CenTrak engaged with hospital staff members during every step of the process to ensure that whatever technology that was selected met their needs. By being transparent from the start, employees got a sense of ownership over the new solutions prior to them being officially rolled out.
“We introduced and piloted the new technologies on a small scale at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital before rolling them out at our second hospital to help identify and address issues, validate the effectiveness of the process and build excitement and momentum within the organization,” says Zhang. “We also provide continuous education and training to staff, physicians and patients to help them understand the benefits of new technologies as they’re introduced and how to use them effectively. Finally, we collect user feedback and monitor the adoption and effectiveness of new technologies to identify gaps, solve issues and implement enhancements.”
Collaboration doesn’t end once the system is installed, though. Mackenzie Health regularly communicates with CenTrak to evaluate adherence to the technology and processes. During these meetings, managers are able to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement, further enhancing patient care, efficiency and cost cutting.
For example, Zhang explains that when hand hygiene dispensers weren’t detecting usage, CenTrak was able to increase the power level of the drip tray sensors under each dispenser across the facility. By doing this, it reduced the low frequency interference from other nearby devices that was preventing the dispensers from detecting usage.
“More hospitals should consider adopting a real-time location system to enhance staff and patient safety, improve operational efficiency, reduce patient wait times for treatment, and improve staff and patient satisfaction,” says Zhang. “As more third-party systems gain the ability to use real-time locating data to elevate their own capabilities, the return on the investment of RTLS will continue to improve.”