‘A journey of culture’: Getting buy-in from employees to track their movements

Hospitals are a natural fit for sensors, but one of most important things hospitals can track is the behavior of their staffs. Where nurses and doctors hang out, how they move about the hospital and how much time they spend with patients can have a big effect on personnel costs. And, of course, knowing who was where, whether they washed their hands and who they contacted can be of the utmost importance in order to track down causes of or help prevent hospital-borne illnesses.

At Gigaom’s Structure Connect conference on Tuesday, Ashley Simmons, director of performance improvement at Florida Hospital Celebration Health, explained how her hospital was able to overcome the inherent big-brother concerns with tracking staff and actually find some really interesting insights. One of the biggest things was just bringing employees into the discussion from the beginning and asking how the data that location sensors would collect could help them do their jobs. As the program matured and expanded, nurses and doctors are kept in the loop to ensure everything is still working.

“It was a journey of culture,” Simmons said, contrasting the inclusive approach to the top-down one historically employed by hospital management.

Another big cultural change had to do with bringing in some new blood that understood data, but didn’t see the world through health-care-industry-colored glasses. “I didn’t want that same mentality,” Simmons said. So she hired a data analyst from Facebook who had lots of experiences conducting research experiments and analyzing lots of data, but was able to look outside the box to search for correlations that hospital lifers might not think to consider.

The results of all the data collection and analysis have been very positive, Simmons said, and actually pretty interesting. The hospital has designed new units based on employee movement patterns and builds patient-care teams based in part on the personalities of the people involved (where people spend their downtime, for example, can suggest how introverted or extroverted they are). When staff have rude encounters, she said the hospital learned, “the potential for you to make a mistake goes up exponentially.”

Now, Simmons said, her hospital is looking to expand its data practices beyond its own walls via sharing its approaches with others and even looking outside hospital walls at other connected areas. Some people are really excited about connected cars, Simmons said, because they envision them helping doctors make decisions about who to see first before they arrive at the hospital, possibly resulting in better, faster treatment.

Photo by Jakub Mosur

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