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When & How Hospital Beds are Being Used

Empty Hospital BedIt’s estimated that half of all US hospitals don’t know when or how their hospital beds are being used.  And, at a time when hospitals are being asked to do more with less, valuable inventory, such as patient beds, are often being wasted due to lack of visibility.  This lack of visibility often leads to perceived capacity constraints and can directly impact patient access.  As a result, hospitals may opt to construct new patient towers or wings – costing upwards of $1 million per bed.

A better alternative would be to create enterprise visibility so that at a glance, caregivers could quickly locate clean and available beds for incoming patients.

TeleTracking knows this because we pioneered the automation of patient flow technology, which can automatically track patient beds that are available, occupied, or in need of being turned over, almost two decades ago.  Since then, we’ve created solutions that solve many other operational challenges that deliver tremendous impact within and throughout the care continuum.

Take for example a hospital with poorly managed capacity might turn its staffed beds on average, 48 times per year.  Hospitals who optimally manage capacity average about 60 turns per year.  For a typical 300 – bed hospital, that could mean an additional 2,000 – 3,000 patients served each and every year.

To learn more about automating patient discharges to improve bed turnover, click here to download TeleTracking’s RTLS automated discharge datasheet.

That type of opportunity has largely gone unnoticed, according to Matt Schuchardt of HIMSS Analytics, because operational improvement hasn’t been a top priority for technology spends.  But how can clinical functions improve upon care delivery if hospitals haven’t optimized tasks that support daily care giving?

Click here to download TeleTracking’s whitepaper, ‘The Vital Nature of the Clinical Operational Cooperative’.

In an interview with Healthcare IT News, Schuchardt, the director of market intelligence solutions sales at HIMSS Analytics, said he finds it surprising that so few hospitals “know how their beds are used, and where they are in use.”

He believes that the sophisticated bed management solutions available now will be particularly important to cost-cutting efforts because they provide real-time visibility and data on how beds are used, especially the most expensive.

According to Schuchardt, about 65 percent of U.S. hospitals aren’t yet using the available technology which would improve their resource planning.

“There are tons of hospitals that aren’t using it,” says Schuchardt. But finding inefficiencies and duplicate efforts is “the logistics part of every business.”

Business intelligence is becoming critical for C-suite decision makers who must deal with spending priorities, capacity issues, throughput and the like.  It’s also important to product line decisions, referral patterns, etc.  Healthcare IT generates a tremendous amount of data of all sorts, but without a powerful analytics engine, that data remains useless.

Tracking healthcare-associated infections automatically can save lives as well as dollars. It’s now possible to trace all the contacts made by an infected patient, as well as the hardware used to transport and treat that patient. The benefits for containing infection are obvious. For example, one hospital reported that a patient, who waited two days for a definitive diagnosis on the highlight contagious C. difficile, came in contact 217 times with hospital staff members, fellow patients and mobile medical assets before an isolation room could be freed up. Because each of those contacts had been tracked via a TeleTracking’s RTLS technology, action could be taken immediately to stop the infection spread.  To read more of this blog from May 2014, click here.

Nurse call systems used to consist of a hallway speaker and some wiring. Now, wireless technology informs nurses of the nature of requests, and bounces the message to the next available person if the call isn’t answered. Or a nurse can simply use her pager to pass the message on to an orderly. Plus, all calls are logged to provide a look back if issues arise.

Scheduling is another area where technology will have a greater impact. Operational visibility can now provide a 24-to-48 hour window on future staff-to-patient demands, taking the guesswork out of staff planning.

TeleTracking offers many of these capabilities and more on one platform.  Our automated healthcare operations management platform provides real-time monitoring and feedback to most of the daily functions needed to deliver quality care.  It expedites patient transfers, maximizes capacity utilization, optimizes resources and staff scheduling, helps control infection and provides data analysis for improving operational performance and identifying market opportunities.

By combining the leading patient flow software with a powerful business intelligence engine and RTLS, TeleTracking is bringing the “Real Time Enterprise” to healthcare. This means hospitals can treat more patients, perform more surgeries, generate more revenue and eliminate more wasted resources than ever before.

Now that the big push to automate patient records is winding down, it’s time for healthcare leaders to consider technology that can save costs and make real bottom line contributions.

Categories: Author: Kris Kaneta, Patient Flow