Embracing 'medical centers of the future'

No wait times, self rooming and kiosk-styled services are the future of hospitals, say officials at the new Puyallup Medical Center. Someday they may even look like this.

RTLS technology brings patient care, innovation to the forefront

PUYALLUP, WA  -  The healthcare industry has been lethargic, resistant even, to redesigning care models and embracing innovative technology that other industries have long utilized. One organization, in particular, seeks to change that. 

Enter the new Puyallup Medical Center in Washington, part of Group Health, where patients check in and head straight to their rooms, where wait times are non-existent, where patient trackers help eliminate inefficiencies, and where healthcare services come to the patient, rather than the other way around. 

Group Health, the Seattle-based nonprofit healthcare system, announced real-time locating system (RTLS) sensor technology would be central in their 'medical center of the future.' 

Officials say the new Puyallup Medical Center  -  a 54,000 square foot primary care facility  -  was designed with direct feedback from patients, clinicians and staff in mind. 

Some of the key elements around this concept of patient-centered care were "listening to the voice of our customer and hearing what their concerns were, what they thought the ideal patient experience would be for a typical medical center visit," says Donnell Coomes, senior project director of the Group Health Cooperative. The center will allow easy access to services, better care, a low-stress environment and efficient use of resources, according to Group Health officials.

Patient-centric innovations include streamlining patient flow and eliminating waiting room time. The RTLS patient tracking badges allow the check-in staff to know which rooms are available, which provider is seeing which patient and be able to tell whether or not it's the right time to send a patient up to a care room and which rooms are clean and available for use. 

The RTLS technology allows any staff "to glance up at a large monitor that's hanging from the ceiling, where you can see a glance of where patients are, where providers are," said Coomes. 

The medical center will tap Intelligent InSites for the patient and equipment RTLS tracking technology. 

In addition to patient tracking abilities, the new center will also bring services to the patient. No longer will a patient have to leave the room to get labs done, see a nutritionist or speak with a pharmacist. The "end game vision," Coomes says, is to have the entire primary care visit done in the care room. "You could have that in-depth consultation with your pharmacist that you normally have to have in the pharmacy surrounded by other people...in a private kind of environment," she adds.