In 2010, Virtua was in the process of building a replacement hospital for its Voorhees campus, its largest. Miller says the leadership team identified that it was an opportunity to redesign care such that it functioned using the most up-to-date technology, methods and strategies for efficient patient care and access to treatment.
Part of that planning involved implementing an asset and patient management tool from GE, called AgileTrac, to track bed and patient flow, as well as mobile assets used by patients, and often "hoarded" by caregivers who wanted to assure they would have equipment when needed. Of course, this all created a vicious circle of equipment hoarding and bed delays that belied the goal of achieving efficiency.
"We were building this million-square-foot replacement facility where the biggest challenge is knowing where equipment and people are," says Barry Graf, Virtua's vice president of integrated operations.
Graf says the importance of both right-sizing inventory and making sure it's always readily available for patient care held promise of big returns on investment. Not to mention the savings of time and effort among the clinical staff who were spending inordinate amounts of time on the phone and on foot searching for equipment or trying to get rooms cleaned and turned over for the next patient.
Backlogs in the ER were the most visible sign of the problems, but so was hallway clutter. Equipment used in patient care was often "parked' in hallways between use.