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Using Tracking Tools to Improve Patient Flow in Hospitals

Erica Drazen and Jared Rhoads, CSC

This issue brief examines technologies that are helping hospitals to expand capacity by improving their efficiency in moving patients through the stages of treatment. The analysis includes short case summaries that provide examples of such systems.

Rather than construct more physical space to meet growing patient volumes, hospitals can increase their service capacity by improving their ability to move patients through the various stages of treatment. New patient-tracking technologies help caregivers work more efficiently by providing them with real-time information on patients and updates about lab tests, physician orders, and other notifications that are crucial to their workflow.

Some of these systems provide information about patients through the use of real-time location technology, while others use a combination of existing data sources and manually entered status updates. Although the success rate is as yet unknown, incorporating patient tracking systems is considered relatively straightforward, low-risk, and highly customizable to fit the needs of a particular organization.

This issue brief examines the technologies and techniques that are available and the best practices used by hospitals that have adopted them. The analysis also touches on the factors that influence how tracking systems are implemented and the benefits they yield. The publication ends with a series of short case summaries.

The complete issue brief is available as a Document Download.