Versus releases mobile application for healthcare RTLS

February 2, 2011 Topic: Uncategorized 

US-based Versus Technology, which specialises in real-time location systems (RTLS) for enterprise patient tracking, bed management, asset tracking, and nurse call automation, has released its Enterprise View Mobile (EVM) application for customers using the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad at no additional charge. Versus customers will now be able download the Versus EVM app from iTunes.

The Versus EVM provides users access to patient, staff and equipment locations on mobile devices as it is synced to the Versus Advantages Real-time Locating System (RTLS). This provides a unique user experience based on user login credentials, and enables on-the-go access to any existing Versus floorplan as well as a badge-centric list view optimisd for the mobile device experience.

Licensed directly from Versus, Versus EVM is available to customers with an Enterprise license.


Avery Surgery Center Links Benefits to Location Tracking

November 15, 2010 Topic: Uncategorized 

This summer, the Avera Surgery Center opened its doors to their new, state-of-the-art facility. Located on the fourth floor of the new Avera Cancer Institute, the Surgery Center has a separate entrance and is also connected via skywalk to Avera McKennan hospital. Here, Avera implemented an automated patient flow module from Versus that helps patients progress through their visits in a timely, well-structured fashion. It also enables greater communication among staff — while requiring less effort.

“Staff and patients really appreciate the locating system,” explains Daren Smith, Director, Avera Surgery Center. “”It just gives them a feeling of control. Everyone knows when you have surgery, you have so little control. So this gives patients and loved ones an opportunity to see what’s happening and it gives us an opportunity to run a more efficient process because we always know where patients are at, too.”

The original RTLS implementation from Versus has been a catalyst for efficiency and improvement throughout the organization. In addition to the existing applications, Avera is currently extending the outpatient Surgery Center workflow tools to the hospital’s main operating room. In 2011, they plan to implement RTLS-based workflow management within the ED, and, once Avera finalizes plans for the Cancer Institute, they are poised to add automated patient flow functionality to the patient care areas that would benefit from process automation.

The Versus Advantages solution at the Surgery Center was featured in the Avera Medical Minute produced by ABC-affiliate, KSFY. The video can be viewed here. “Our relationship with Avera is deepened by our mutual commitment to the patient experience,” says Paul Timmerman, VP, Versus. “After seven years with Avera, Versus is still preeminently positioned as a safety and satisfaction tool within their care environment. What better way to demonstrate our dedication to healthcare?”

Notably, Avera was recognized by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine as a 2010 “Most Wired” and “Most Wireless” facility. They are the only health system to receive this recognition each year since the award’s inception.


Onsite Managed CCTV Recording: MASSIVE Savings for Businesses

October 15, 2010 Topic: Benefits & Outcomes, Outcomes in the News 

Onsite Managed CCTV SolutionFirst Signal has begun researching vendors to provide our customers the latest and most affordable CCTV Security Solutions. For more information on this exciting new technology, please contact us at sales@firstsignal.com.

The MVS software is solely focused within the video security and surveillance industry. Through the use of secure web-based applications this solution is revolutionizing the manner in which video security and surveillance is deployed, utilized and managed.

The MVS solution utilizes the customer’s present broadband connection to transmit full time, live streaming video over the internet to the MVS bank of video servers where the video is stored safely and securely and archived (7 days – 6 months). Live and recorded video from single or multiple locations is easily accessed via a single web-browser (username and password required). Any combination of cameras and locations will appear on a single viewing screen.

1. Cost effective solution for high quality video requiring 6 or less cameras.
• By utilizing the present internet connection, the customer can save thousands of dollars
by not having to invest in a DVR and monitor configuration.
2. Critical camera back-up for DVR’s.
• While the DVR continues to record all cameras locally, a subset of the cameras can be transmitted
over the internet to the MVS video servers where it will be saved for later playback should
the DVR fail, get destroyed or be stolen.
3. DVR upgrades.
• Easily and economically upgrade a customer’s antiquated, analog system and receive all of the
benefits of digital technology without having to replace the present DVR or cameras.

The MOVR provides the solution when the application requires large numbers of cameras, extended archiving periods or high frame rate requirements.

The web application provides a variety of benefits:

  • No software to install, manage or update
  • Access cameras through any internet connection in the world
  • A single user-interface whether the system is a single camera at a vacation home, dozens of cameras in retail environment, hundreds of cameras in a manufacturing facility or a combination of them all
  • Easy to use (100% point-and-click control)
  • Highest security – 128 Bit Encryption
  • Device monitoring (IntelliSoft)
  • Automatic notification of alarms and events
  • Compatible with all analog and a variety of digital cameras

The MOVR incorporates an added level of security through the use of its IntelliSoft Pro technology.
In addition to monitoring all external devices (cameras, internet connection, router, modem, etc)
it also monitors all internal components such as hard drives, motors, fans, and power connections.
Should anyone attempt to defeat the MOVR by unplugging it or turning it off, an alert will be transmitted notifying the appropriate persons.

The MOVR also has the ability to transmit video offsite for redundancy. Therefore, with proper placement
of a camera you have the ability to view, record and archive the actions of someone who turned the MOVR off. Additionally, if someone were to steal the MOVR, you could have the video of the actual theft stored offsite, even though the physical unit was stolen.


‘Most Wired Hospitals’ for 2010 named

August 30, 2010 Topic: Outcomes in the News 

The Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking study, conducted annually by Hospitals and Health Networks, has named the “Most Wired Hospitals and Health Systems” for 2010. And several First Signal partners have made it onto the list! Congratulations to all our Most Wired customers, and we hope to help keep your facilities on this list year after year.

Piedmont Fayette Hospital, Fayetteville: Most Wired
Piedmont Hospital, Atlanta: Most Wired
Palmetto Health, Columbia: Most Wired

Want your system to win awards? Find out how First Signal can help!

[Most Wired for 2010] via HealthCare IT News


Measuring the benefits of RTLS

August 4, 2010 Topic: Benefits & Outcomes, Outcomes in the News 

Infusion PumpReal-time locating systems (RTLS) have been slowly gaining momentum in health care. RTLS has been heavily marketed, promising better utilization of equipment, improved efficiencies and a positive return on investment (ROI). But hospitals have been cautious to utilize the technology because it is complex and expensive; many health care organizations are waiting for the early adopters to prove or disprove the marketed claims.

To briefly explain the technology, RTLS wirelessly tracks the location of tagged assets or individuals in real-time wherever the facility has installed coverage. While RTLS is a complex technology, it can be simplified into three basic components: 1) the tags that are affixed to the tracked item or person; 2) the platform, which is the infrastructure consisting of readers and network components; and 3) the end-user software application that allows the users to see the tracked assets or people on a computer or mobile device.

Most RTLS products are “active” systems rather than “passive” systems, which simply means that the tags have a battery in them and they can send out a wireless signal saying where they are. While radio signals are used by many vendors as the transmitting method, other methods are also used such as infrared and ultrasound signals.

RTLS can be installed, for example, in clinics, emergency departments, operating rooms or throughout the entire hospital. Currently, the majority of implementations in health care are hospitalwide and used for equipment location tracking (e.g., infusion pumps, specialty beds, wheelchairs). Departmental-based implementations that employ RTLS for workflow visibility and efficiency are also in place, but are less common today.

Search time adds up

One of the first benefits is the ability to simply find a pump when you need it, whether the pump is required for use on a patient or whether it is due for its periodic preventive maintenance. One hospital spent two months on a benchmarking analysis and found that it took on average 22 minutes to find an infusion pump. After the implementation of RTLS, it took on average of two minutes to find a pump. Another hospital told us that, after their RTLS installation, they saved about 100 hours a month searching for rental equipment, including infusion pumps. The time saved by staff could then be used for more meaningful tasks.

Many hospitals are utilizing RTLS to achieve par-level management and ensure that a pump is always available for clinical use. For example, a hospital can determine the number of pumps that are required in a clean equipment room. Should the number of pumps fall below this number, the RTLS software sends an alert to the appropriate individuals (for example, equipment services) and triggers a work process that replenishes the clean equipment room with enough pumps.

A more sophisticated application that some hospitals are undertaking is utilization monitoring. Utilization allows a hospital to calculate when a pump is in use versus when it is unavailable for use. This helps to determine the effective usage of the pump inventory and can influence capital purchases and work processes. Utilization monitoring can be accomplished by vendors in different ways.

For example, utilization can be strictly based on software rules. Rules can be created to say that if a pump is in a patient room, assume that it is in use. Similarly, if the pump is in the soiled utility room, the pump is dirty and therefore is unavailable for use. Once the pump is in an area designated as clean, the pump’s status can again change to available for use. Some vendors accomplish utilization calculations by interfacing with the pump directly. The interface determines whether it is powered on or off. In this situation, if the pump is on, it is an indication that the pump is in use.

It is important to understand that using RTLS to determine device utilization requires more advanced capabilities from the technology (higher resolution, interfaces with the pump). Purchasers should be aware of the hospital’s objectives and factor this into the selection process.

Further, several hospitals that we interviewed mentioned the benefits derived when a recall is issued on a pump. One health system related its experiences with an infusion pump recall that required clinical engineering intervention (each pump needed an upgrade). One of the health system’s two campuses had installed RTLS while the other had not. The campus without RTLS required a few weeks to complete the recall action, whereas the campus with RTLS only took a few days to complete the recall. The health system considered this a patient safety benefit.

From the above, we can start to see how the benefits of improved efficiencies can be realized. As clinicians start to trust the technology and realize the positive changes to work processes and availability, actions such as hoarding become unnecessary. As a result, staff satisfaction improves.

Calculating hard savings

In addition to the soft ROI already discussed, hard ROI with real dollar savings can arise from various areas—the most common being rental savings and decreased capital expenditures. RTLS is expensive. The initial cost is not trivial. However, interviews with hospitals revealed that despite the large installation costs, hard ROI is achievable within about one to three years. The tangible hard-dollar savings accomplished through rental savings can be significant. One hospital’s rental needs for infusion pumps decreased by half. Another hospital stated that their entire rental costs went from $250,000 a year to $100,000 a year. Such decreases can be achieved on two fronts. First, savings can be gained by limiting the number of rentals needed with better utilization. Second, when the rented equipment is no longer needed, it can be readily found and returned so that the daily rental costs incurred can be controlled.

Savings are also gained through fewer capital purchases. While not every medical device has the potential to be over-purchased, infusion pump over-purchasing can be due to the perceived need for additional pumps when they are poorly utilized. Determining the utilization of pumps (how many pumps have not been turned on or have been “available” for extended periods of time) can help to discover where excess inventory is negating the need for additional pump purchases. In one real-world example, a hospital administrator received a request for 100 additional pumps. An investigation into the RTLS metrics showed that this purchase was unnecessary, saving the facility roughly $300,000.

The examples related to infusion pumps are merely a snapshot of what RTLS can do for a hospital. RTLS has many different use cases and applications. It can be used for workflow improvement initiatives such as those in emergency departments and operating rooms, for automatic documentation, and temperature monitoring, to name a few. And, as the technology establishes a foothold in health care, new applications are surfacing such as hand hygiene programs and bed management.

When considering this technology, health care facilities need to not only account for the strengths and weaknesses of the vendors’ products, but also the effect RTLS could have on work processes and the hospital’s overall objectives.

For more information on the RTLS Outcomes offered by First Signal, please visit our Outcomes page, here.