Healthcare News & Insights

How patient-tracking technology is improving care at hospitals

Technology has brought about many improvements in health care that have a positive impact on the patient experience in hospitals. Some facilities are using tracking technology originally designed for supply chain management to make a big difference in lowering wait times and improving treatment across the continuum of care. 

As discussed in an article from Hospitals & Health Networks, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center in California decided to test whether its electronic asset-tracking system could be expanded to track patients as well.

With its new real-time location system patient-tracking program, each patient at Sharp Chula Vista is given a numbered tag with a barcode to wear on the wrist. The tag’s scanned into the tracking system and connected to special software that receives signals to keep tabs on the patient’s location.

The main benefit of the tracking system for Sharp Chula Vista is that it speeds up bed turnover, allowing the hospital to admit more patients efficiently. After a patient’s discharged, the tracking tag is removed and placed in a drop box that automatically notifies housekeeping to prepare the room for the next patient, instead of having to notify them manually.

Cutting out that step alone has reduced the time it takes to assign newly admitted patients to a hospital room by over three hours, which has improved patient flow in the facility.

The tracking system has other benefits as well. Patients who wander away from their hospital rooms can be quickly located, as can missing patients who are elsewhere in the hospital undergoing tests. Because of the success it’s experienced with its patient tracking system, Sharp Chula Vista plans to expand the technology to other hospitals in its health system.

Tracking hospital visits

Other hospitals are using patient-tracking technology for slightly different purposes, tracking the amount of times high-risk patients enter the facility for care.

According to an article in NJ Biz, Hackensack Meridian Health is one of the first hospitals in New Jersey to use a program called PatientPing that’s designed to send information about patients’ hospital stays to multiple providers.

The idea behind PatientPing is to improve patient treatment across the continuum of care, since the patient’s primary care provider and other healthcare professionals can learn about the person’s latest hospital visit right away and intervene to schedule follow-up appointments if necessary.

PatientPing was designed in part to address some of the issues with interoperability in electronic health records (EHR) systems, since they often aren’t effective with transmitting details about hospital stays to other providers.

Hospitals and healthcare providers can sign up for the tracking platform for free, but they must pay extra to be notified when patients enter the hospital.

Though the technology is relatively new, officials at Hackensack Meridian hope the use of PatientPing helps the facility boost its quality of care and improve population health by strengthening communication between providers.

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