Real-Time Location Technology Puts Peace of Mind in the Palm of Families’ Hands

When a loved one is having surgery, being tied to the waiting room and wondering how things are going can be a time-consuming and stressful experience. Frequent questions at the front desk, while understandable, can be disruptive to workflow for both desk staff and the charge nurses who have to continually check on patients.

The Northwest Michigan Surgery Center in Traverse City, Michigan, provides a novel solution. Its iCare Patient Tracker app, available on both computers and smart phones, puts peace of mind in the palm of a family member’s hand, allowing them to easily keep tabs on the patient’s progress.

Since 2012 the surgery center has been showing the progress of patients through surgery on a large- screen monitor in the waiting room. The new iCare app allows the same information to be viewed from anywhere with an internet connection.

On the day of surgery, patients and their families are given password-protected access to the iCare website. Like the display in the waiting room, family members can see the HIPAA-compliant first name of each patient and whether they are in pre-op, surgery, post-op, or ready to see family.

“Whether in our lobby or across the country, distance doesn’t stop families from being there with their loved ones during surgery,” says LoAnn Vande Leest, CEO of the surgery center.

Unlike similar progress indicators, iCare doesn’t rely on staff members to update the status of patients. Thanks to real-time locating system (RTLS) technology from Versus Technology, the patient’s status is automatically updated as soon as they move from one stage of care to the next, based on their actual location. This frees staff from unnecessary data entry, and ensures the information shown to family is always correct in real time.

Versus also assists the surgery center to efficiently see 19,000 patients per year in their six ORs, four procedure rooms and 44 pre & post-op beds. Versus Advantages OR patient flow software gives all staff visibility into patient, bed and OR status and intelligently cues staff when patients are ready for the next stage of care.

“The Versus system helps us ensure that a patient’s visit progresses efficiently,” explains Vande Leest.

In addition to Versus, two other companies helped develop the iCare app. SMB Group, a local technology firm, provided programming expertise, and Flight Path Creative worked on design and development of the application.