(6-months post implementation)
Columbus Regional Hospital takes its vision to be the “best in the country” at everything they do very seriously. It’s apparent in every aspect of hospital operations—from skilled and caring staff to quality consumables to advanced technologies. So why would their selection of a Real Time Locating System to reduce staff workloads and improve patient flow be any different?
To create a clinical environment focused on quality care, safety and satisfaction, staff must be able to rely on the resources they are provided. The tools provided must be intuitive, easy to use and conform to existing workflows. Above all, they must not add to the clinicians’ workloads.
In 2005, Columbus Regional Hospital decided to take its Rauland-Borg Responder® IV nurse call system to the next level by integrating a real-time location and automation solution from Versus Technology, Inc. By selecting Versus Advantages™, Columbus Regional opted for the best in real-time locating technology: a real-time tracking system that enhances communication and safety for patients and staff alike, while relieving staff from tasks that take their focus away from patient care.
This integration allows nurses to cancel patient calls just by walking into the room and determine staff presence in rooms when looking down unit corridors via color-designated dome lights located above the patient room. Soon, they realized that the same real-time locating solution that allows nurses to leverage hands-free interaction would also offer tremendous benefit to their Biomed staff who were spending significant time searching for equipment.
“Throughout the house, nursing staff like the system because it saves them steps. It has really made them more efficient,” says Roni Kagley, Integration and Technology Coordinator. “It gives nurses more quality time in the patient’s room because the patient’s call is directly routed to the nurse’s phone.” It is also noted on dome lights above the patient rooms and on decentralized whiteboards located throughout each nursing unit which display staff and equipment locations.
This saves Columbus Regional’s clinicians valuable time in that they no longer search for the nurse most knowledgeable about the patient’s needs when the call comes in, and yet with the whiteboard in place, everyone on the unit knows that the call has come in, who is responsible and whether or not the patient’s nurse is available.
According to Dave Lenart, Director of Facilities, “By implementing the Versus system, we eliminated one of nursing’s most common complaints: the struggle to get to the headwall to hit the cancel button. It may seem insignificant, but when you consider the nurse’s need to get around monitors, chairs, patients and their families, commode chairs, bedside tables and night stands 15 times an hour and that we’ve replaced that rigmarole with automatic call cancellation just by having the appropriate nurse ‘present’ in the room, in that area alone, the Versus system has been extremely beneficial.”
Nurse managers like the report data that comes from the Versus system. “It validates what the nurses are doing,” Kagley says, “Particularly if they have a patient complaining. The perception is that the nurse wasn’t in the room all night, that calls weren’t answered, but the data collected just by the nurse wearing the Versus badge validates the actions they performed and the work that they’ve done with that patient.” Having that data readily available makes it easier for the nurse managers to present evidence of time together with the patient, including who responded and when.
The knowledge of who, when and where in real-time has been keenly adapted to Columbus Regional’s Behavioral Health Unit—where the panic button featured on the Clearview Badges is particularly useful. Prior to the Versus RTLS, Behavioral Health staff had to rely on verbal shouting in a very big unit with many isolated areas. Kagley says “The badge has given them great peace of mind because now they can press the panic button to let people know who they are and where they are.”
Lenart adds, “It has really helped our housekeepers’ willingness to even go over to mental health to complete their work. Housekeepers aren’t trained in de-escalation techniques, so by having the badge as their panic device, it has helped actually assimilate some of our other workforce into those more complex work areas.”
“The Versus Advantages™ solution gives us the point to point understanding of the specific location of equipment and such that we were trying to find,” explained Lenart. “Knowing exactly where equipment is–within ten feet or less–is ideal. It’s better than trying to find it behind the walls or on different floors.”
Lenart believes that, as a hardwired IR/RFID solution, Columbus Regional’s staff don’t have to worry about trying to tune in and triangulate location and subsequently re-adjust to the changing needs of the facility. “In healthcare, we’re always moving walls, and with the Versus Advantages™ solution, I don’t have another system to try to manage and tune in to based on all the changes that occur.”
Severe flooding in June 2008 devastated the Columbus, IN region. As one of only two hospitals within an hour’s drive, it was important to be back up and running as soon as possible. Along with many offices, equipment and storage, computer servers and electrical systems were damaged and had to be reinstated during the recovery project.
The Versus Advantages™ solution was one of the systems that was damaged and had to be brought back online. Of the system, Kagley says, “The value of the Versus system is not only inherent, but also perceived. It helps with patient satisfaction, and it was one of those systems that was missed that the staff really wanted back.”
To increase patient safety in its emergency department, Columbus Regional Hospital developed four hallway beds as defined locations tracked on the facility’s Floorplan view. When one of the hospital’s patients is put into one of the hallway beds, the patient is seen visibly on the floorplan and list views, and his or her status is tracked. The patient can also use the remote station button on the wall located near the hallway beds to call for help if necessary. This sends an immediate message to the caregiver.
Lenart and his staff have tracked several different emergency department benchmarks, including overall waiting period, length of stay in the department and left without being seen (LWBS) rates. Before installing Versus Advantages™, the average overall waiting period in the facility’s emergency department was 54 minutes compared to 20 minutes since the installation of the solution. The overall length of stay average has decreased from 3.3 hours to 2 hours and 21 minutes, and LWBS dove from 2.75 percent down to less than half of a percent.
“We also look at the emergency department intervals at our facility, which is the time from arrival in the patient room until the time at which the patient is discharged from the hospital,” Lenart says. “Before Versus Advantages™, the average was 2.4 hours compared with our current average of one hour and 49 minutes. We don’t have to rely on paper time stamping anymore, which is really subjective. Now we have a very passive and automatic system which takes another step out of our emergency department staff’s day.”
According to Kagley, the Versus Advantages™ solution has taken a very chaotic unit and put a measure of efficiency and organization to it. “Not long after we implemented the Versus solution in our emergency department, the department had a major trauma involving multiple patients. The director of the department was able to quickly allocate resources and move patients back where they needed to be just from looking at the Floorplan View and seeing what rooms were available and what staff was present. She was able to access and use that data very quickly to mobilize her department.”
Lenart and Kagley are pleased with the Versus Advantages™ solution. “You always like to look at what competition is out there and what their capabilities are to either validate what you’ve got in place or to see where you could maybe compensate for strengths and weaknesses,” added Kagley. “So far we have not found a competitor that has a product that could give us the finite location that Versus can through the IR/RF signals.”
Columbus Regional Hospital continues to challenge itself to remain abreast of the latest technology. To that end, they continue to look for and implement new ways to utilize and leverage Versus Advantages within their business processes. “I don’t think that’s going to end anytime soon,” Lenart says.
Columbus Regional Hospital is a not-for-profit, regional hospital that serves a 10-county region in southeastern Indiana with 1,725 employees, 225 physicians on medical staff, and 250 volunteers. Columbus Regional is nationally recognized for its high quality care.