News | September 10, 2013

Sentara Healthcare Selects Versus RTLS For Accuracy And Reliability

Following a six-month hospital-wide asset tracking pilot at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center, Sentara Healthcare selected Versus Advantages Asset Tracking and Fleet Management from Versus Technology, Inc. Sentara plans to implement Advantages, powered by Versus’ Real-time Locating System (RTLS), at its nine additional hospitals in Virginia and North Carolina.

Prior to selecting Versus, Sentara Williamsburg, a 145-bed general medical and surgical hospital in Williamsburg, VA, conducted six-month pilots of two different RTLS technologies, hospital-wide.

The Versus system was selected because of its superior accuracy and reliability, according to Stephanie Middleton, Manager of Information Technology for Sentara Healthcare.
“With Versus, we receive very accurate location reports, down to the room-level, without spending time and resources monitoring and recalibrating the RTLS,” Middleton says.

Versus’ combination Infrared (IR) and Radio-Frequency (RFID) technology locates people and assets through the direct association of RTLS tag signals to sensors installed in each room, eliminating false-positive or “wrong-floor” location reports.

Additionally, Sentara was able to build its asset tracking system onto a Versus RTLS network already in use for nurse call automation. By leveraging this existing architecture for their pilot, Sentara saved approximately half the cost of a typical RTLS installation.

“We get approached to do pilots all the time,” says Susan Pouzar, Vice President of Sales for Versus. “Sentara was different. They’d already been through one pilot, so when they came to Versus, they knew exactly what they did and did not want to see. Sentara was also very direct about ROI. They didn’t want to just ‘see’ assets—they wanted a real return on investment.”

Upon its initial pursuit of RTLS for asset tracking, Sentara’s primary goal was to reduce equipment loss. The number of assets written off because they were deemed “Unable to Locate” by the system’s biomedical engineering vendor represented significant savings. Further into its evaluation of RTLS, Sentara realized they could improve ROI further by focusing on equipment utilization.

Sentara and Versus tagged 500 assets and turned on the system to collect valuable baseline data — prior to rolling out the front-end software to staff, which happened three weeks later. Comparing utilization data from the three-week periods prior to and after go-live showed significant ROI:

  • IV Pump utilization increased 17%
  • IV Pump module utilization increased 7%
  • PCA inventory found to be underutilized
  • Less labor time spent searching for equipment; staff able to take on additional duties

“We actually had a standing order for 10 pumps and modules,” says Patrice Lavoie, Sentara’s Senior Business Applications Analyst. “We realized immediately that we didn’t need them.” This concrete example confirmed that cost avoidance is a real portion of the Versus ROI opportunity.

Prior to Versus’ RTLS, Sentara’s overall utilization rate was 54%—already higher than the average utilization rate for mobile equipment (42%). Today, Sentara Williamsburg maintains a 75% utilization rate.

“It’s as lean as we’ve seen,” says Barry Cobbley, Director of Sales Engineering for Versus. “There has been general agreement that an accurate RTLS would allow a healthcare organization to deliver the same or better care with fewer pieces of equipment. We’re now seeing compelling data that confirms this premise. The new normal means tremendous savings through capital cost avoidance, reduced rental costs, and reduced maintenance expenses.”

Before Versus’ RTLS, even if a bed or pump wasn’t needed, staff would want to store it as an assurance that it would be available. Now, by tracking more than 500 assets, nurses don’t go looking for equipment to have it on hand, they just know it’s going to be there.

Middleton describes the phenomenon from the Sterile Processing Department’s (SPD) perspective. “Our SPD technician is now the nurses’ hero. Equipment used to sit in dirty supply areas without anyone knowing; now, thanks to automatic notifications, the SPD knows and can take action. Giving the right groups of people the information they need to support nursing has made a big difference within our organization.”

To learn more about this and other uses for RTLS in the clinical environment, visit Versus’ website at versustech.com or see Versus at one of several upcoming healthcare conferences listed at versustech.com/events.

Systems Electronics, Inc., a Versus Certified System Integrator for more than 10 years, and the Rauland nurse call distributor in Knightdale, N.C., installed and maintains Versus’ RTLS.

About Sentara Healthcare
Sentara Healthcare, based in Norfolk, Virginia, is an acknowledged leader in patient safety, quality and innovation with a corporate mission ‘To Improve Health Every Day.’  An integrated not-for-profit system with 26,000 employees, Sentara serves Virginia and northeastern North Carolina with 11 acute care hospitals including a Level I trauma center, outpatient campuses, rehabilitation, home health and hospice, senior services, medical groups, an ambulance service, the Nightingale Regional Air Ambulance and the Sentara College of Health Sciences. Optima Health is a Sentara-owned health plan. Four foundations support creative solutions to help meet community health needs.

About Versus Technology, Inc.
Established in 1988, Versus Technology, Inc. specializes in Real-time Locating Systems (RTLS) for healthcare. Used by more than 700 hospitals for enterprise patient tracking, bed management, asset tracking, and nurse call automation, Versus improves patient flow and documentation of caregiver and patient interactions, while enhancing communication and efficiency. Exclusively endorsed by the American Hospital Association, the Versus infrared (IR) and Active RFID solution is responsible for clinical-grade location and automation at hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities worldwide. For more information, visit versustech.com.

SOURCE: Versus Technology, Inc.