In the News: Assessing & Scheduling with Surgical Precision
Paige Patterson, RN, BSN, House Supervisor at University of Colorado Health (UCH), says what she and her clinical colleagues really want when they go to work is “a reliable, positive patient and caregiver experience.”
That’s probably the primary goal of practically every other clinician working in a healthcare facility as well — but reaching that goal can be a lot harder than it sounds, especially for those working in the surgical suite, where rarely is anything static or predictable.
Patterson works in a clinic setting at UCH but the communication, preparation, planning and efficiency challenges that she faces are similar to some of the obstacles encountered in critical care environments too.
At Patterson’s facility, four long halls are lined with exam/procedures rooms, each featuring an exterior light. When the light is on that means there’s a patient inside, maybe a caregiver as well. Physicians also used the light to signal to staff when lab orders needed processing. Patterson says it wasn’t the best way to track people and events but that’s how it was done.
“The lights were not visible unless you looked [or] partially walked down the hall,” explained Patterson. “Oftentimes staff would close curtains in the rooms if they wanted to save it for a patient or procedure. And, patients would wait — and wait — in the exam room because staff had to find the physician to tell them the patient had arrived. Physicians would order labs and activate the light outside the room, and it was the responsibility of the staff to notice the light, but they did not always know which patient was first with the request.”
Clearly that strategy was outdated, inefficient and hardly provided the “reliable and positive” experience Patterson and her colleagues were seeking. To get them closer to that goal, UCH implemented TeleTracking’s Clinical Workflow Suite software solution with a real-time locating system (RFID/RTLS). This allowed them to automate those manual processes and remove the unnecessary guesswork that used to gobble up precious time. Today patients are spending 13 fewer minutes between check-in and in-room transfers. TeleTracking platform gives caregivers in halls and dictation rooms a visual of exactly how long a patient has been waiting in the lobby. Now, when patients are assigned to a room their location is immediately updated on the board and an icon also indicates if an RN, MA, DR or mid-level provider is in the room. The system also eliminates the need for visitors to spend time at the front desk waiting around to find out where their loved ones are. Labs and EKGs ordered electronically are also reflected on the board, including the time of the order so that medical assistants can work more efficiently.
Written by Valerie Dimond, Healthcare Purchasing News, February 20, 2017