Medical clinic improves patient flow, increases revenues using smart technology

imageIts hard to browse through a health industry trade journal and not come to the conclusion that hospitals and clinics are fixated on electronic medical record systems and health information exchange initiatives.  Certainly, the specter of ARRA HITECH stimulus funding has created demand as never before.  Since America has fallen behind much of the rest of the industrialized world in the digitization of health information, that is a very good thing.  But as I have pointed out in prior HealthBlog posts, the digital record all by itself really doesn’t buy you much.  It is how you optimize workflow around the electronic record, and what you do with digital information once you have it, that really delivers on the value of EMR adoption.

Similarly, there’s a lot more to building an e-enabled practice than using an EMR.  In fact, some of the smartest clinical leaders I know are looking at every aspect of clinical workflow and using technology to improve the experience for patients and clinical efficiency for physicians.  One such example is illustrated in a new case study on the use of real-time location technologies to improve patient throughput in clinical settings.

Pacific Medical Centers is a private not-for-profit, multiple-specialty healthcare network with 10 locations and 140 primary and specialty care providers in the Puget Sound region of Washington state.  When PMC wanted to improve patient satisfaction by maximizing space and labor resources at its new Canyon Park Clinic in Bothell, Washington, it turned to Microsoft partner, Versus Technologies.  Versus deployed what is known as Versus Advantages, a real-time locating solution or RTLS that combines radio frequency identification (RFID) and infrared (IR) tracking of badges and tags to identify people and equipment and to display their location and status on computer screens. It also provides rules-based automation to streamline clinical workflows.

The solution is very similar to one deployed at the Virginia Mason Kirkland Clinic in Kirkland, Washington.  That solution was profiled recently on Microsoft’s on-line video series, Health Tech Today.  You can watch the video segment here on HealthBlog to get a better understanding of how RTLS is contributing to the good work at Virginia Mason.  In this video, clinic medical director, Dr. Kim Pittenger, takes us on a tour of the clinic and explains how they have optimized operations using RTLS technology and incorporated lessons learned about workflow and “production” by studying Toyota.

Versus Advantages at VM Kirkland

What’s remarkable about the Versus RTLS solution is just how much it can improve patient flow and therefore clinic revenues.  Back at Pacific Medical Center’s Canyon Park Clinic, Dr. Brett Daniel, medical director, says that the Versus Advantages solution helped staff create a clinic design that would increase patient flow by 35 to 40 percent and double net revenue projections.  As Dr. Daniel noted, “To survive in today’s fee-for-service healthcare world, we have to see more patients, deliver higher quality and safer care, and improve customer service.  Thanks to the RTLS, our clinic has become a model for how to do all of this really well.”

You can learn more about Pacific Medical Center’s Canyon Park Clinic and the Versus Advantages RTLS solution that is being used there by following this link to the full case study.

Bill Crounse, MD             Senior Director, Worldwide Health             Microsoft


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