Tracking surgery patients in real-time

The surgical journey at (HRH) is like no other in Canada. Patients are tracked in real time by the RealView Steris Surgical System, implemented at Humber four months ago, and the cutting-edge technology is getting rave reviews from patients, families and practitioners.

HRH is the first surgical program in Canada to use the visual monitoring tool which tracks a patient through all stages of care. Each patient is assigned an RTLS (real time locating system) tag and is then followed effortlessly through the process, from Registration and Pre-operation Admission right through the Operating Room or the Cystoscopy Suite to the Post Anesthetic Care Unit and then Surgical Daycare for discharge or overnight admission.

Large monitors are visible in all units as well as in the waiting rooms and update families and staff of the patient’s status using an assigned number. This complements face-to-face interactions with families, and further enhances the renowned care synonymous with HRH.

“The best part of it is mainly for the families – surgeries can be very anxiety provoking and this system relieves a lot of the worry,” says Dr. John Hagen, Director of . “In the past the patient was dropped off and would disappear into this black box and come out the other end.

“Now it’s kind of like in airport – the information board advises you that the plane has landed and that information provides comfort,” says Hagen, adding that updates can also be automatically sent via email or Smartphone to family members unable to be at the hospital.

All information is HIPPA compliant and does not violate patient privacy, says Joan Rotnem, Senior Perioperative Nurse Consultant Steris Corporation. “Families are now able to receive this information even in remote locations and no longer need to be in the hospital… Patients appreciate that their friends and family no longer have to sit in a waiting room and wait for an occasional message.”

RealView has been implemented in hospitals across the United States for more than 10 years and accesses information through an interface from the hospital medical record. There is no manual entry and the system is updated about every minute.

The cutting-edge perioperative solution also brings efficiency to the surgical experience, allowing all caregivers in each department to know the location, the status of the patient and also other important information about that patient. “This increases communication and eliminates numerous phone calls between departments. It allows the nursing staff to concentrate on providing care to the patients,” says Rotnem.

Vital information is provided even prior to the patient arriving, which in turn results in a higher level of care and an increase in quality measures. The chances of information being overlooked, or not being conveyed from area to area, are vastly reduced, adds Rotnem. “Communication is the number one reason for errors in medical issues and this heightened awareness and visibility of issues involving a patient can decrease those errors.”

The system is a great management tool, according to Christina Copplestone, Program Director Surgery at HRH. The RealView patient flow data collected by the RTLS tracker allows hospitals to improve efficiencies and increase care levels based on real time events.

The system tracks surgery start and end times, turnover times as well delays, and this data allows for adjustments to improve performance in real time, says Copplestone. “It gives us performance measures, the ability to look at our performance and track it – and you can only improve on what you measure.”

As a leader in healthcare technology and patient-centred care, HRH is also examining other Steris system applications including the use of iPad technology in the OR to further streamline the processes for practitioners, as well as the option of employing cameras so that surgeons can dial into the room and see where the patient is in terms of preparation