Home Discharges An automated bed czar to improve patient flow

An automated bed czar to improve patient flow

Software keeps track of bed supply and demand

December 2015

Published in the December 2015 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

IF YOU’RE TIRED OF watching nurses rush around trying to find clean beds, there is a better way.

Since 1991, the Pittsburgh-based company TeleTracking has developed software to improve patient flow, an item that’s moved to the top of every hospital’s must-do list. Now deployed in nearly 900 hospitals, TeleTracking offers a suite of components designed to “anticipate patient-access needs and level-of-care transitions,” explains Katie Heinemann, the company’s senior product marketing manager. “The goal is to ‘pull’ patients into their next phase of care as soon as they’re ready and drive better patient outcomes.”

Client hospitals have realized shorter lengths of stay, significantly more transfers and lower left-without-being-seen rates. To accomplish those, TeleTracking automates communication about patients’ movements within the hospital. Once the TeleTracking software detects a discharge order, nurses, doctors and case management can use the software to check off discharge milestones, such as patient education on the care plan.

The goal is to “pull” patients into their next phase of care as soon as they’re ready.

Unit staff then use the software to request transport for a patient being discharged, while the transporter uses a mobile TeleTracking app to report when the patient is leaving. “That triggers a notification to environmental services that a bed is dirty,” says Ms. Heinemann. Housekeeping uses the software to note when the bed is available.

All this information is fed to what Ms. Heinemann calls the “command center,” where staff “typically RNs “keep watch over a bank of monitors. On their screens, staff track bed supply in real time. They also see bed demand, including bed requests for all transfers and direct admissions and for specific patients being worked up in the ED. The software also displays analytics on wait times, turnaround times and utilization rates.

Hospitals can also use TeleTracking RTLS (real-time location system) “tags” “badges that patients wear “to keep tabs on patients throughout the hospital. Hospitalists can use the software to see if patients are in radiology or dialysis, not in their rooms. And unit and surgery staff can track where patients are perioperatively, from preop to surgery to the PACU.

Many clients, Ms. Heinemann says, track bed supply and demand across multiple sites from one command center. “When you can see the bed and physician availability for an entire enterprise,” she says, “you can make much more intelligent decisions about where a patient needs to go.”

More information is online www.teletracking.com.