At Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Alliance in Fort Worth, a badge is no longer just a badge. It’s a walking, talking communication system, one that can improve the health and safety of patients and staff alike.
At this week’s RFID in Healthcare conference in Washington, D.C., hospital president Winjie Tang Miao talked about how the hospital is using data from those tags to develop big data insights.
“The difference is between making decisions based on perceptions compared with making decisions based on reality,” Miao said, according to Med City News. “It’s not about Big Brother. It’s about keeping people safe”
For infection control, say, staff would need to find who had been exposed so they could get screened. By analyzing RFID (radio-frequency identification) tag data—indicating whether a staffer had been near the infected patient—hospital administrators were able to send targeted emails and address the problem faster.
The tags also improve workflow. One source of bottlenecks at hospitals is when supply delivery coincides with patient transportation. Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Alliance used the RFID data to look at when the peak times were for patient transport activity, then shifted its supply delivery to late-night, to minimize congestion.
The data is also used to identify where patients are to help inform other staff and family members whether a patient is undergoing a test and how long they may be or when the patient is discharged. Additionally it can help keep track of how long it takes staff to perform certain tasks. The goal is to increase staff time with patients.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas had already been using similar software, so Texas Health Resources opted to install a similar system at the Fort Worth site while the hospital was still under construction last year. Tags are attached to mobile high-value machines, patient wristbands, and staff badges.
RFID technology is becoming increasingly popular in the medical setting. It’s transforming patient tracking in VA hospitals, connecting patients with their own medical records, and helping cut medication error rates.
“[The real-time locating system] will allow us to monitor all patients in real-time through an advanced patient surveillance system,” Miao said when the system was announced. “It is not only about the bells and whistles. It is about using technology to create an individualized health care experience for each patient’s unique needs.”