The June 2016 cover story of Health Management Technology features interviews with several “C-Suite Innovators,” healthcare executives who are creatively leveraging technology to improve their operations and better the lives of their patients. Craig A. Bunnell, M.D., MPH, MBA, Chief Medical Officer of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, was lauded for the cancer center’s use of RTLS to improve workflow, ultimately increasing capacity by 10 percent without adding additional rooms to the clinic.
An excerpt from the article appears below. The full text is available at HealthMgtTech.com.
Welcome to the Innovation Suite
These healthcare execs are creatively leveraging technology to improve their operations and better the lives of their customers.
Pixar Animation Studios Director and Executive Producer John Lasseter once said, “The art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art.”1 He’s right. The animators at Pixar may use tech to craft their vision, but without their creativity and imagination, the tool is merely an untapped resource. But as the technology advances, the limits of imagination expand with it.
This logic can be applied to those who work in hospitals and clinics – overlooked places where creative individuals are working to solve pressing issues and improve upon outdated systems. With that in mind, HMT profiles C-Suite Innovators who are leveraging HIT to turn inspiration into reality, and consequently expand upon the limitations outlined in the instruction manuals of the tools they wield.
Editor’s Note: The following has been edited for clarity and concision.
Craig A. Bunnell, M.D., MPH, MBA, Chief Medical Officer
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Leveraging RTLS to improve patient care
Craig A. Bunnell, M.D., is the Chief Medical Officer of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center located in Boston, MA. Dr. Bunnel is an oncologist specilizing in the treatment of breast cancer at Dana-Farber and an Associate Physician at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He was trained in medicine at the Harvard Medical School, where he still serves as an Associate Professor. He also holds a Masters in Public Health from Harvard School for Public Health and a Masters in Business Administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Bunnell took on the role of CMO at Dana-Farber in 2012, and was part of the leadership team responsible for implementing RTLS technology as a means to improve physician workflow and decrease wait time for patients.
Where did the need to adopt an RTLS system come from?
This all really began because we realized the layout of the new building would be an issue in terms of managing resources. In cancer treatment, the two most prominent rooms where patients are seen are the exam room and the infusion room, where they get their treatment. And you have to be able to manage those resources for business reasons but also to manage wait time for patients. We began to look into what the options were, and chose an RTLS system from Versus.
We were actively constructing the building, so we were able to put thousands of sensors into the ceiling of clinical floors that use radio frequency and infrared technology with ID badges. The ID badges are worn by providers, administrative people – anyone who is coming into contact with a patient, as well as the patient themselves.
And this system helps you monitor workflow?
I know where the patient is, I know who is with and around that patient, I know what that patient has already done and what they have yet to do.
It does. What it does is it basically shows us where everybody is – we know where staff is on the floor, we know where patients are throughout their journey at the institute, and we know where all the different providers are. If I’m looking for a patient, I know where the patient is, I know who is with and around that patient, I know what that patient has already done and what they have yet to do.
Our plan is to implement this into our EMR; we just implemented Epic. The goal is to have those systems work in sync together, so we can connect the dots on what’s happening to what’s supposed to be happening, and have the system alert us to any issues accordingly.
In terms of timestamps, where are you seeing the biggest improvements?
We first piloted this on certain floors. We didn’t even turn the system on, but we began having people wear the badges. We did this to gather data to get a foundation for where we were.
The next step we took is we turned the screens on, so people could actually see what was happening on their floor, but we didn’t do anything else at that point. We didn’t create workflows for people, or set rules on how the system would be used. And it turns out that, just by turning the screens on, we saw a significant difference in wait time for patients at every step of the process.
How did the staff react to the change?
In the end, we saw a 10 percent increase in capacity without changing the number of rooms … and it turns out, because things were operating more smoothly, staff loved it. Doctors became the biggest advocates for it, because it made their life and their patient’s life better.
There was some reluctance with providers – particularly physicians. On some people’s part, there was a little bit of concern about “Big Brother” watching. What we tried to do is convince people this tracking wasn’t going to be used in a punitive way. I don’t need a system like this in order to know if somebody is working hard. I know if a person is working hard. The question is, how can we help them to work better and make their work easier for them? And so, we used the data from the RTLS to be able to do that. In the end, we saw a 10 percent increase in capacity without changing the number of rooms we had. Because of the workflow changes we made, we were essentially able to add two rooms to each floor, just by using that real estate more efficiently.
Throughout the process, we had to be very transparent about the implementation – we promised to show them the data and the improvements. And it turns out, because things were operating more smoothly, staff loved it. Doctors became the biggest advocates for it, because it made their life and their patient’s life better.
What’s the next step for this tech? What else are you hoping to improve?
When it comes to cancer care, we’re going to treat your particular tumor based on the genes of your specific tumor. So the question is, can we do that level of personalization on a different scale? Can we actually personalize your entire experience by looking at your plan for the day at the institute, and then make predictions to find the most efficient path for a specific patient? Who knows. That may be more than what’s even possible, but I think we need to not be confined by what we think is impossible. I’d like to have a scenario where a patient is walking toward an infusion room and that triggers a pharmacist to mix their chemotherapy, so a patient isn’t waiting.
Greater integration of all of our IT systems will help create a predictable and transparent experience for patients, really transform their experience. That’s where I see system implementation going. There are possibilities within this technology that we don’t think about right now, but the more we use it, the more we’re going to discover those uses. The potential to do everything from ironing out workflow clogs to lowering costs by improving efficiency and capacity is tremendous.
Full Article: http://www.healthmgttech.com/welcome-innovation-suite
Learn more about how Versus uses RTLS to increase capacity and improve the patient experience with our educational whitepaper, “7 Ways RTLS Technology Increases Patient Volume and Improves Satisfaction.”