Success Story: Tagged equipment, staff spur efficiently delivered heathcare
Skytron, Centrak devices keep tabs on equipment
by John Wallace
Success in one place can create momentum that builds and spurs more success and that’s happening in Louisiana. The installation of a Skytron Asset Manager Real Time Location System (RTLS) at its Baton Rouge facility is performing so well that the Franciscan Ministry of Our Lady Health System added it to Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette, La.
The RTLS is used to track equipment and staff across 420,000 square feet and 186 beds. With Skytron Asset Manager, tagged equipment and staff are located in real-time with bedand bay-level accuracy. Our Lady of Lourdes reported that the Skytron Asset Manager reduces time spent searching for equipment and allows caregivers to efficiently deliver services to the patient’s bedside.
“The thing I like best about the Skytron solution is that it allows me to attend to patients instead of looking all over the hospital for equipment,” said April Ebling, ICU Staff Nurse at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center. “Especially in the ICU, it’s a matter of life or death.”
The medical center uses the Skytron Asset Manager system with CenTrak infrastructure to manage recalls, locate soiled equipment, track staff responsiveness, schedule preventive maintenance and adequately stock crash carts. According to the facility’s biomed department, the time required for bed preventive maintenance has been reduced from nearly a month to a two-day process since introducing the system.
Covington Medical Systems has played a role in the high-tech and efficient patient care provided by Our Lady of Lourdes. The Covington, La.-based company is a local and state distributor for Skytron and other companies with an emphasis on sales and service.
Bill Robertson, president of Covington Medical Systems, explained that his company helped install the Skytron system at the Franciscan Ministry of Our Lady Health System’s facility in Baton Rouge, La., about five years ago. The installation and service combined with the performance of the product prompted a desire for more.
“After that, we entered into an agreement with the whole system,” Robertson said. “But first we installed it in Baton Rouge.”
The opportunity to add the RTLS to the Our Lady of Lourdes came about when it was under construction.
“It opened about two years ago and we installed it when they opened,” Robertson said. “At Covington Medical Systems we negotiate the deal and we kind of oversee the different groups that come in and do the work. We help coordinate the installation and then provide continuing service.”
Terry Broussard, vice president of Support Services at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center, said the Skytron Asset Manager (SAM) has many benefits.
“Our goals have always been directed toward quality patient care. In today’s healthcare, one has to also be extremely efficient in the delivery of healthcare,” Broussard said. “So I’d say twofold: SAM helps our patient care teams rapidly locate necessary items across our 420,000 square foot facility, and apply that to our patient care plans. Additionally, ‘back in the day,’ some would say you need to buy more of this pump, wheelchairs, etc. Now our ability to rapidly locate that, as well as use actual data to reallocate underutilized items, has provided utilization metrics to justify capital expense.”
The system has numerous benefits, Broussard said, including limited use of the medical center’s paging system.
“Our processes use staff tag data to ensure standards and expedite service requests,” he said. “Everyone can access the system from their desktop and is able to locate staff, and direct them to the area required for service. We have virtually eliminated any overhead paging. Staff members can be located via Skytron and contacted through the in room nurse call system.”
He also said the system saves the hospital money while also saving time for the staff and patients.
“Imagine attempting to locate an item repetitively across 420,000 square feet – even if it takes 15 minutes to retrieve – the mathematical extrapolation over 4,000 items (our total inventory) could be staggering,” Broussard explained. “Time that should more appropriately be spent in patient care. Additionally, our clinical engineering team uses the system to manage preventative maintenance, as well as locate items that require service, enhancing patient safety.”
The installation of the system was basically seamless.
“We are under contract to Covington Medical, who chose Skytron as the technology provider. Our system utilizes CenTrak technology with over 1,250 items tracked thus far,” he said. “The installation was quite easy: map and go as it were, after some initial network drops and server work. As with all database systems, the key was to understand the technology and to apply that to the areas throughout the facility.
“Certainly,” Broussard said when asked if he would recommend the system to another facility. “It has worked for us, and we are just looking at the tip of the iceberg. Data mining will be the key to realizing the emerging potential. The system can do much more than track. We are looking into service alerts, stagnant patient dilemmas, etc.
“I think the system is limited only by one’s imagination,” he added. “I see business practices evolving with enhanced data for time and motion, as well as demand, of staff and resources.”