Experimental Nurse Tracking System Promises to Increase Efficiency

Nursing can be a very demanding profession, especially as it relates to standing for long hours as patients are treated. One Florida hospital is conducting an interesting experiment in which nurses’ every move are tracked using an electronic system, with the goal of helping the hospital better identify possible inefficiencies and correct them.

The hospital, Florida Celebration Health, is using technology which is similar to GPS in order to track not only where nurses go within the facility, but also the number of steps it takes them to get there. A division of Stanly Black & Decker, which makes tracking and security products, provides the technology. Researchers at the hospital are able to track the nurses, and a few doctors who have agreed to participate in the program, by attaching a tracking tag to their name badge. As a result of the information gained from the tracking system researchers hope to increase efficiency by reorganizing daily tasks and eliminating work overlaps.

The information from the system is already generating valuable insights. For example, a certain IV sterilization task used to be assigned at a time that made the task difficult to complete, due to the overall volume of traffic in the hospital at the time. The tracking system was able to show, in a visual fashion, the bottlenecks that resulted from performing the task at that time. In turn, hospital administrators were able to use the data to seek the best time to perform the sterilizations, and increase the overall efficiency of the operation.

Some nurses initially objected to the tracking system, insisting that it was too “Big Brother” like, and could be used to violate their privacy, or even to mete out punishments. But those concerns have been largely assuaged after nurses were assured that the system’s implementation is intended to help increase the efficiency of the facility, not to monitor any one specific person. Nurses were told that they were not obligated to wear the tracking tag, but were encouraged to participate in the program.