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Ashley Simmons

Using RTLS/RFID data to improve surgical outcomes

by John W. Mitchell , Senior Correspondent
From the February 2018 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

For Florida Hospital System, asset tracking means much more than figuring out where the portable ultrasound is being stashed. It means using location data to generate better outcomes by understanding the time frame between operations and rehabilitation. It means looking at the way nurses are interacting with surgical patients to establish better protocols and a more efficient workflow.

It also means having a stronger grasp on patient satisfaction – which is increasingly important to a provider’s bottom line. But, according to Ashley Simmons, the hospital system’s director of innovation development, for all the benefits these insights bring, there is still plenty of untapped potential when it comes to making these kinds of solutions worth the investment for hospital executives.

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HCB News: When people think of RTLS and RFID in health care, they usually think of tracking down a device when it's needed. How did you and your colleagues get started in exposing the analytical insights hidden beneath the surface?

Ashley Simmons: Initially, it was part of a larger plan about six years ago with our Florida Hospital Celebration Health facility. When we looked at building a new tower onto the hospital the leadership at the time said, ‘Let’s do this right. Let’s bring in partners and really think about innovating, creating a care environment for the future.’ We had some visioning sessions with partners and asked, ‘What can we do differently to drive more effective, efficient care and improve outcomes in the care setting?’

One of those partners was AeroScout (acquired by Stanley Healthcare). They felt there was more that we can do with RTLS/RFID in this stage versus just the typical tracking of a pump or a wheelchair. That's when we really started to dive into what this information could tell us. It could give us real-time insight on not just things but, more importantly, people. The more data and information you can gather, the more you can proactively manage the future.

That was our goal. How can that data provide us insightful analytics on how we approach things, processes, workflow and teams, going forward?

HCB News: Can you give an example of one way in which RTLS/RFID analytics have enabled you to improve efficiency?

AS: One of the things we immediately did in the surgical unit was track the nurses and the patients to see what was happening in that transition out of the OR into recovery. We had a specific use case around one of our engaged surgeons who was very efficient in his process with his patients. He knew exactly what their care should look like, how quickly they should be getting up and walking after their surgery and what that means for their recovery, when they should be going home. That gave us a great use case to track whether or not outcomes are different for patients who aren’t doing what he feels they should be doing.
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