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Children may love playing “hide and seek,” but it isn’t a game that they or their family would like to see doctors and nurses play in the hospital.
Executives of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota had that in mind, more or less, when they recently renovated their Minneapolis facility, adding Wi-Fi-based solutions from AeroScout that help improve workflow and communications, reduce noisy paging systems, monitor temperature-sensitive items, and locate doctors and nurses throughout the facility at all times.
And they’ve added some pretty lights, too.
The lights are contained in a light bank above each patient’s door, with colors corresponding to roles within the hospital system (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc.) They’re triggered by AeroScout Wi-Fi Staff Tags and enable hospital staff to know who’s in a patient’s room.
“We have several different common colors that mean specific things,” says Bobbie Carroll, RN, MHA, director of professional development, practice and clinical informatics for the two-hospital system. With the system in place, she says, an administrator, nurse or physician can look down a long corridor and see which patients are receiving care.
Colored lights are just one aspect of the AeroScout system, which ties together the Roland-Borg Responder Nurse Call system with AeroScout’s Integrated Nurse Call solution to locate staff and identify the nearest staff member to a patient in need of service. Along with AeroScout’s Staff Visibility solution, the hospital has created a platform that’s designed to reduce waiting. Tracking boards enable administrators to track the locations of all staff from a central location.
Minnesota Children’s, created in 1924, comprises 340 staffed beds in its two locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul, providing care for more than 12,000 inpatient and 200,000 emergency room visits per year. Carroll says the renovation project (the St. Paul hospital is undergoing its renovation now) was designed to make each facility more family-friendly by reducing shared areas and “pod”-style rooms, creating private, family-centric rooms and reducing the noise and unnecessary activity that typically characterize a busy hospital.
“Patient confidentiality and privacy of space have become big drivers for how hospitals serving children are set up,” says Roberta Testor, MSS, MA, the system’s director of IT technical services, in a white paper issued by AeroScout on the installation. “Having privacy is less disruptive to the patient, which helps healing, and there are also benefits in terms of infection control and prevention.”
By equipping staff with AeroScout tags, administrators are able to track staff automatically, eliminating pages across the hospital’s intercom system or the old, tried-and-true method of walking up and down long corridors, searching for specific doctors or nurses and occasionally calling out their names. The system is also ideal for the fast-paced, unpredictable emergency department, where time wasted searching for appropriate staff can have a negative effect on a patient’s health.
Improving the atmosphere in a children’s hospital is vital, Carroll says, because “here we are always treating the entire family, not just the child.”
“Pediatric facilities have a very different care delivery model,” adds Charlotte Miller, BSN, MBA, RN-BC, director of nursing informatics for Redwood City, Calif.-based AeroScout. Oftentimes the patients have more acute conditions, she says, and are in need of more specialized care, so the distractions and delays have to be minimized and the technology employed has to be quick and effective.
Steffan Haithcox, AeroScout’s associate vice president of marketing, said the company’s Wi-Fi solutions are also used to track the temperatures of perishable or sensitive materials kept in hospital refrigerators (like blood, insulin and medications) and to locate equipment.
“Sometimes your equipment is even more valuable because it’s pediatric equipment,” he says. “It’s vital that (hospital staff and administrators) know where everything is at all times.”
“Nurses don’t want to waste time trying to find something. If they’re looking for a specific cart and it isn’t where it’s supposed to be, they’ll get another cart,” adds Miller.
Carroll is looking even further ahead with the system. She’d like it to be synched with the electronic medical record platform as well as the hospitals’ staffing and scheduling software, thus “tying the nurse to the patient room to the phone they’re using to the AeroScout tag they’re wearing and closing the loop.”
In other words, leaving the game-playing to the kids.
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