Most people are aware of the burgeoning movement to apply lean principles to healthcare. A company called Awarix has come up with an intriguing use of technology in support of that effort.
Awarix has created what it calls patient care visibility systems. Simply put, it is a use of technology to create visual controls in a hospital, through an electronic whiteboard – in effect, a kind of andon board.
The picture shown here is an example of what one of these boards looks like. The diagram is a layout of patient rooms on a hospital floor, with color coding to distinguish different situations. Green might signify an inpatient, turquoise an observation patient, yellow a patient scheduled for discharge. Letters can signify patient alerts; for example, the “R” on the room on the left could indicate results of tests – or if it were a different color, abnormal results or critical results.
Information is communicated through location technology, such as ultrasound and radio frequency identification (RFID). The whiteboards are placed throughout the hospital, and the system can provide status information on more than 75 clinical and administrative processes.
Customers of Awarix include Ascension Health in
According to Awarix, the system at St. Vincent’s – part of a broader capacity management improvement program – helps turn over medical-surgical beds more efficiently, which means patients don’t have to be held in the emergency department while they wait for beds. Neeysa Biddle, president of
An Awarix system is also used at
That, of course, is what visual controls are all about.
The system seems like a good idea, and a clever strategy by Awarix to seize a market opportunity. I hope we see more approaches like it.