IoT Innovates Florida Hospital Healthcare
By Robert Vamosi
Imagine being able to check out of a hospital and seeing an itemized list of all the care you received, down to the minute. Or only having your health insurance charged for what care you actually received. Or having the hospital predict and staff your stay accordingly.
These are the types of scenarios Ashley Simmons, Director of Performance Improvement, Florida Hospital Celebration Health, talks about when she describes the impact the Internet of Things has already had on her hospital.
“We knew with healthcare reform we’ve got to do some things differently,” she said in an interview with Forbes. “Consumers are connected in every other space except healthcare. So in 2010 we began our journey of really leveraging our economies of scale and our partnerships and all the services we have available to really create this innovation focus.”
Three years ago the hospital formed its Center for Innovative Patient Care by interviewing all its partners. One, the AeroScout badging system from Stanley Healthcare, rose to the top, Simmons said, because they were willing to try new things. Shortly after the Florida hospital began badging all the nurses and patients at one of its 200-bed facilities.
Just tracking everyone’s footfalls within one campus has already proven to generate a lot of data. Simmons estimated there are millions of lines of data today. As a result the hospital has hired one full-time data analyst, with plans to create a small team just to crunch the data going forward.
For the moment what Florida Hospital Celebration Health is doing is unique. Other healthcare facilities are only conducting limited tests with small groups of nurses and patients. By studying an entire hospital facility there already have been some quick wins.
One is more visibility, transparency. With the tracking system the hospital can now display on an electronic dashboard the exact location of patients moving from pre-op to OR to post-Op — areas of the hospital that usually closed off to family members. “Some other hospitals have that as well,” Simmons said, “but it’s through the hospital’s scheduling system and not in real time.”
Another use is still in progress and one Simmons admits they haven’t explored enough: the insurance implications of having all that data. “As we go to this value-based purchasing model where you are reimbursed based on the value and quality you are providing your patients, more and more insurance companies will want this data.”
For example she cited a typical insurance case where a GYN patient would be in the hospital for one to two days, depending on the complexity. “You would expect very little care,” Simmons said. However, her data is showing a different picture when compared to orthopedic or bariatric patients who are typically in the hospital for longer stays—the GYN patients require more care. “It’s interesting that the insurance industry would think that’s a no brainer: You get a little bit of pay for this and a lot of pay for that. But the caregiver time qualified for each is very different.”
Simmons said the data is starting to predict who will need more patient care during a stay. “We have found linkages to neediness, if you will. If you are single, divorced, with no kids, there’s a higher level of care that you are requiring from your nurse,” she said, so the hospital now plans for that.
How does the hospital staff feel about all this tracking?
“Caregivers feel excited about this technology,” said Simmons. She stated that the hospital has been very clear that in the last three years no one has lost their job and there have been no punitive actions taken as a result of the data. “This is a safe place,” she tells the nursing staff. “This is where we want your input and feedback, to participate in this space, and we want to change how we give care.”
And the nurses are discovering the data can produce more efficiencies in their rounds. For example, by studying why nurses go to this station more often than that station, even when the first is much closer, revealed certain supply shortages, basic things that can be remedied if it is known. Also, the hospital can predict through data analysis when a nurse is about to burn themselves out and intervene with coaching. This reduces turn over.
Now even the custodial staff wants to join, Simmons said, as do the transport drivers, if only to document the work they contribute to the hospital.
This week the hospital is badging the physicians in the OR, with the ER physicians scheduled to be badged later this year. And the hospital is also attempting to scale this to its other campuses. Simmons would like to see her whole hospital take the lead in refining patient care while at the same time encouraging other hospitals to try this.
Of the use of the Internet of Things in healthcare, Simmons concluded “If you use it right and create the right culture, it can be effective.”