DataPlex engineers designed several generations of “doctor tracking systems,” systems that consist of sensors and keypads around a medical facility that are used to keep track of the location of doctors, nurses and other staff members. Doctor tracking systems are also called “personnel tracking systems” when they are used in non-medical facilities.
The first generation system, designed for Dr. Bosley of Bosley Medical of Beverly Hills, California, used room telephones, light bars and specially designed keypads. As doctors, nurses and staff members moved about, they would press a button to inform the system about their location so that they could be located at a moments notice. Dr. Bosley reported an astounding simultaneous increase in staff efficiency and patient satisfactions as doctors were able to more quickly get to them and answer their calls.
Display panels in the rooms would inform a doctor as to the queue of rooms for him or her to visit so the he or she would not have to take the extra time to return to a clerical station. Also, the display panels would beep to alert doctors to emergency, highly urgent or expiring timer situations.
The second and third generation systems leveraged infrared technology and relieved the users from having to press any keys. Badges that the doctors wear broadcast infrared signals that are picked up by infrared receivers that had been installed in the facility’s drop ceiling.
The fourth and latest generation of the Doctor Tracking Systems uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. While originally eschewed because of their signals’ ability to penetrate walls and be picked up by sensors in other rooms, technology evolved so that this “overage” actually became an advantage and that a doctor’s location could be even more closely pinpointed. (This proved to be lifesaving in one case when a doctor collapsed out of people’s view but by way of the tracking system was found in enough time to get medical attention.) This generation system also supports voice intercom.
These systems have IT features that allow facilities to make better and faster decisions, such as when a patient should be revisited or when to clean up a room, and have tracking integrated with their enterprise systems so that doctors’ room visits can be correlated with patient billing. We see other potential uses of this technology to track medicine dispensing and to better improve the workflow around a medical facility.