All along, the usage of RFID was confined to “things” such as managing inventories in the retail and supply chain industries. Then came the concept of Internet of Things where data from connected devices was analyzed to deliver new services or help customers / end-users gain more out of intelligent devices.
One one hand, we have these inherently uni-dimensional “things” literally coming to life – a thermostat or a light bulb is no longer just a thermostat or a light bulb as these devices are now “talking” to one another and collectively generating data that gets converted into insights. On the other hand, we have connected employees with access to mobile devices to do lot more than what they were able to do without the mobile devices.
But what happens when employees are just “things” that are monitored in real-time and transmit data? If you think all hell will break loose, you are dead wrong.
Ashley Simmons, Director – Performance Improvement, at Florida Hospital Celebration Health has spearheaded the roll-out of a Real-time Location Tracking devices (worn by nurses, physicians and patients along with their badges) that gathers data on the movement of nurses within the hospital premises and correlates it to how efficiently patients are being handled. Here is the summary of what I gleaned out of an interview with Ashley Simmons at GigaOm Structure Connect 2014.
Celebration Health Implemented a software application from Stanley Healthcare, a company that provides tracking devices and software for a variety of healthcare applications.
The data generated by the devices worn by nurses and patients resulted in detailed workflow patterns that was accessible to their staff and they could check out how their day was spent and the bottlenecks that they need to look into.
Building trust and ensuring that the bogey of big brother watching or monitoring people was a key focus area for this project. According to Simmons, the hospital made sure that the staff was completely on-board with this idea before it was implemented and get their feedback on a daily basis. The objective of this program was not only to get data about operational efficiency to the top management but also share the data with the staff for their own review and performance improvement.
Here is a screenshot that shows how the staff movement data was analyzed
The data on these movement patterns allowed the hospital to build more efficient work spaces that promotes better workflow patterns within the hospital. See (image below) how the hospital building layout was modified based on the data generated from these tracking devices.
Staff engagement scores have gone up as a result of this data being made available to the hospital staff and their involvement in data analysis and feedback. This was validated through an internal Gallup poll on employee engagement. The hospital also measured an improvement in patient satisfaction after implementing this solution.
Some of the insights the hospital was able to pull out of this system included:
- Day shift Vs night shift behaviors
- Workflow patterns for new hire Vs experienced hires
- Productivity data for various activities
- Social patterns of different groups of employees. For example, introvert nurses had a different movement pattern compared to extroverted nurses!
- Analyze workflow patterns surrounding events such as patients falling and figure out what were the activities before such adverse events.
- Correlating all the data elements from the tracking system with other factors like day and time of the week or patient issues. This is very similar to how ecommerce sites and retail chains track customer behavior and correlate it to sundry parameters.
- Analyse behavior patterns before and after specific events such as a rude encounter with a patient.
Here is one clear example of a process improvement that I gleaned from Stanley Healthcare’s website.
It has become clear to the hospital that, contrary to a widely held assumption, the night shift is just as busy as the day shift. The way it is busy, however, is very different. Activity on the day shift is more or less constant, whereas the night shift is characterized by periods of intense activity at the start and end of the shift, with a lull in between. By shifting some activities to the quieter hours, the hospital has helped reduce bottlenecks and addressed a point of dissatisfaction for the clinical staff. For example, it used to be routine to return IV pumps for sterilization at 6:00 am, just as patients were being prepared for discharge. Now, this task is performed in the early am period, when technicians have fewer demands on their time.