RTLS Use Cases
In 2014, Sioux Center Health opened a new 123,500 square-foot facility that includes a 19-bed Critical Access hospital, medical and specialty clinics, a surgery center and more. From routine checkups to specialized surgeries, Sioux Center Health provides comprehensive care for all aspects of an individual’s life. Each patient receives the utmost care and attention with access to advanced, up-to-date medical equipment and technology.
As part of its commitment to enhancing the patient experience, Sioux Center Health installed the Versus Real-time Locating System (RTLS), integrated to its nurse call system, throughout the hospital. Together with CEC (Communications Engineering Company), the local certified Versus system integrator, Sioux Center Health then leveraged the RTLS network for additional innovative uses.
In combination with the nurse call system, Versus automates a seemingly trivial, yet highly repetitive and often frustrating action. Nurses normally have to press a button on the wall to indicate a patient call has been answered, often reaching over chairs, IV pumps, and over-bed tables. If the patient needs immediate attention, the nurse may wait, causing the response time to be inaccurately documented.
By integrating Versus and having nurses wear lightweight locating badges, the call is automatically canceled when the nurse enters the room, relieving nurses of one less task.
“Rather than documenting when a button was pressed, which might be longer than the actual response time, this allows us to document the exact moment the nurse attended to the patient,” explains Marilyn Ver Meer, Nursing & Quality Officer.
Additionally, Versus automatically controls the nurse presence lights above each patient room. “I can look down the hall and see where my RNs and LPNs are, just by the color-coded lights,” Ver Meer says.
Nurses at Sioux Center Health practice intentional rounding, conducting checks on each patient at set times. This practice is recommended by The Joint Commission to improve patient safety as well as satisfaction.
Sioux Center Health uses Versus location data to help nurses manage their rounding routines. By keeping track of the last time a nurse entered the patient room, software can cue the nurse when rounding is due.
While nurses can see rounding information for all patients on a central screen, the system is also integrated to electronic whiteboards outside each patient room. Discrete, color-coded icons communicate rounding status.
Shonna Borcher, Manager of Medical Surgical and Obstetrics Services, says this Rounding Alert system helps nurses take a team approach to patient care.
“Nurses can see at a glance which patients will need rounding soon, and which need rounding now. If one nurse is overloaded, other nurses know without having to ask and can step in to help.”
Depending on the nature of their illness, it may be difficult for patients and families to fully understand the level of care they receive. Nurses perform care while patients drift in and out of sleep, while family members come and go — they may not know when the nurse last checked on them.
Sioux Center Health addresses this with small electronic whiteboards inside the patient room, showing the names of the patient’s care team, their photos, as well as patient care goals. By integrating the whiteboard with the Versus system, it also automatically lists and time-stamps the last 10 staff visits. Patients or their families simply need to glance at the screen to understand how often the patient is receiving care, helping to improve patient satisfaction.
Sioux Center Health leverages their RTLS for a fourth use in the outpatient surgery center. Here, it’s patients wearing the locating badge, which allows Versus to monitor their stage of care.
A large-screen monitor in the waiting room displays the HIPAA-compliant Versus Advantages™ OR Family Waiting View. The screen lists each patient by number (corresponding to their assigned OR suite), which stages of care they’ve completed (pre-op, OR and post-op), and when the patient is ready to see family.
“This keeps families aware of where their loved one is in the process,” explains Joanne Langeraap, Manager of Surgery and Same Day Surgery. It also frees front desk staff from taking frequent questions about patient status.
Another large screen monitor in the surgery department includes time stamps. “Seeing where all our patients are in real time and how long they’ve been in a stage of care helps my staff better plan their work assignments, making the department more efficient,” Langeraap says. Another benefit – no one has to manually update the traditional white-board previously used to communicate patient status.
Sioux Center Health isn’t stopping at just four uses for their RTLS. According to Kayleen Lee, CEO of the health system, they’re considering adding patient flow applications in the Emergency and Radiology departments.
“Versus had been a good addition for us,” Lee remarks. “The system helps us deliver quality, timely patient care, and demonstrates to our patients that we care very much about their experience.”
Sioux Center Health is a faith-based, not-for-profit health ministry committed to providing the comprehensive healthcare and health-related services in Northwest Iowa. Its facilities include a 19-bed Critical Access hospital, more than 20 medical specialty clinics, a birthing center, and a full continuum of senior living facilities.