Beyond typical RTLS use cases
January 13, 2021
by Gus Iversen
, Editor in Chief
Healthcare Business News spoke to Polina Braunstein, president and CEO of Quake Global, for insights into how automating a wide variety of processes and procedures, in real time, by marrying RFID technology with AI and tying into major hospital systems.
With this technology proving itself today in forward-thinking hospitals and clinics, she says the future is now.
HCB News: So what healthcare understands about Real Time Location Systems is that there are a number of known functions like tracking assets and patients, but you and your team have been taking hospitals to a new level with end-to-end automation. Tell us more about this leap forward.
Polina Braunstein: Hospitals need to have the ability to communicate in real-time to insure seamless hospital enterprise operation. We have the ability to go well beyond what hospitals understand about RTLS systems- identifying and tracking equipment and where patients are, and those typical use cases. We are now using RTLS technology for automating hospital operations; to make it more efficient, safe and to enhance patient satisfaction. Using RFID tagging technology, marrying it with advanced AI and tying into hospital HR system; patient databases, security, ERP system, facility management databases, blood banks, any clinical process flow; and others is providing unprecedented visibility and orchestration. We're talking about real-time location systems, I'm talking about real-time system that basically has ability, real-time, automate nearly anything. This applies to surgical room or simply rotational rooms for patient stays, in the movement of specimens to and from labs and their disposition, automating billing, tracking an implant, and programming any number of processes to ensure patient safety. This is an exciting moment in the continuum of this technology.
HCB News: Let’s talk a bit about patient safety, a perennial problem. So much can and does go wrong in hospitals that can put patients at risk like giving a patient the wrong medicine. How does a system like Quake’s alert clinicians to reduce these risks?
PB: That’s right there are so many opportunities to make dangerous mistakes. Here is one example. Take a cancer patient in any busy treatment facility getting a chemotherapy infusion and the the nurse comes from a pharmacy with medication to start the therapy. The RTLS system has the ability to connect pharmaceutical information to HR database, to the doctor prescription and patient treatment plan, clinical flows, facility management, security and assets used by the hospitals for the treatment. So we can confirm and identify real time events. If anything is not right with any of this, the system will alert several functions of the hospital that something is not going to the plan: to the nurse that it’s the wrong patient, or that it’s your patient but you have brought the wrong drug for that patient. This alert can be sent to a variety of clinicians through a variety of computer systems, mobile phones or any other communication system used by the hospital.
Here is another example of programming in alerts, this time in the movement between the surgical suite and pathology lab which has to do both with patient safety, and operational and clinical efficiency. A patient has just gone through complex lumpectomy requiring multiple tissue sample to be removed and sent to the lab for analysis. System automatically will track doctor orders, surgical collections, print the label and report how many specimens are being collected whether 5, 10 or 20 and most importantly notification of all specimens being delivered into the pathology lab. The system is also capable of reporting the status from the pathology lab and slide dispositions. So the pathology technician doesn’t have to manually write down all of the specimens that the nurse brings into the lab, those are now known. So as those X number of specimens enter the room, it would take significant time for pathology team to check them in. With the Quake system the pathology lab instantly recognizes all of the specimens, and they are auto checked in, as well as checked out into the specimen database. The system will instantly recognize if one is missing and send an alert and keep track the exact disposition of those specimens through the entire process. That’s critical when you think about the hundreds of thousands and millions of specimens coming and going. And lost or mixed-up specimens have been implicated in patients getting the wrong diagnosis, delayed diagnosis or not getting a diagnosis at all. Too much is left to chance without this kind of automation and quality control.
HCB News: We have heard that much more can be automated in the OR to make it more efficient and safe. Can you give us a quick example of one process that can be automated?
PB: Yes, and this is an important one. Our system can be set up to pre-order all of the surgical equipment that needs to be in the room exactly when it is needed. So if you’re planning to perform this surgery, you can specify that XYZ elements have to be in the surgical room. This can range from anything from medication or something kind of implant. So based upon that our system can inform the surgical team what is needed, and order. The system can also report when the surgical room is set up for actions.
HCB News: When we think of going full circle with automation billing comes to mind. Can your system auto-populate forms and then somebody can review and sign off?
PB: Our system has the ability to populate forms, and shares them with the appropriate billing systems which is highly efficient in terms of manual input and ensuring that the right system have the proper billing information. When you think about how manual the billing process is and the replication of work this can save a great deal of time.
Going to the next level, there is more sophisticated billing/revenue capture based on staff and patient tracking. For example, if today is nurse that walking the patient from entry door into the treatment room is generating $9 an hour. And after that, as soon as patient steps in a treatment room which our system can sense and track, the billable rent now it goes to $250 an hour and the system captures that immediately. There is a lot of billing lost that with proper tracking can really help hospitals financially.
HCB News: On the subject of entering rooms, you had mentioned that your system can help turn chaos into more of a highly choreographed ballet with clinicians coming and going when the time is appropriate.
PB: Scheduling and having the right people in the room at the right time so important. With the tools that hospitals have today, it's simply impossible to schedule all of the rotational people involved in short-term procedures efficiently, and that actually cost hospitals a lot of money. So this is where our Quake system is so important as it has the ability to tag any individual and very same way that's associated with a patient. The system can manage cleaning crew, as well as the surgeon, as well as the cardiologist, and additional personnel that need to enter at specific time throughout a procedure. The system has ability in it to create an automated event. So, the surgeon walks into the room and the automated system alert reports "I have a surgeon in the room. Surgery started." Based on that notification everyone else down the line can be notified and schedules adjusted. You can program when the cardiologist needs to walk into the room, let’s say 30 minutes after surgeon walks into the room. Then cardiologist receives notification that basically goes into his schedule calendar. His notification delivers to him via email and via SMS message on his hospital phone. So everything can be coordinated, and made highly efficient.
HCB News: You had mentioned that your system is expandable and infinitely programmable according to the needs of the institution. Can you elaborate on that, and also give our readers and indication of how this can seamlessly tie into existing systems like EPIC and PRP?
PB: We are leaving in the world of IOT which is not a news to anyone. If hospitals have any programmable interfaces, we can establish data connection between all of hospital systems and connect them together. This includes hardware, software; personal devices, smart room controllers and security. The point of Quake system is to enable hospitals to have autopilot system that prevents medical mistakes and insure just in time communication to all parties involved.