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Staff activity barcoding to improve patient outcomes

Thursday, 5 April 2018  
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eHealthNews editor Rebecca McBeth

Physical therapy staff at Bay of Plenty DHB scan barcodes to record patient interactions to improve data quality, and eventually, shorten hospital stays and improve patient outcomes.


Barcoding for allied health staff activity at Bay of Plenty District Health Board will lead to better patient outcomes, says the board’s executive director allied health, scientific and technical.


Martin Chadwick says a project to implement ABC’s Activity BarCoding for 200 allied health staff began late last year.


Around 90 physical therapy staff now carry a small barcode scanner on a lanyard, which they use to scan various activity barcodes relating to their interactions with patients.


All 200 staff across the therapy group within physical health will be capturing their activity via barcodes by the end of May.


Chadwick says that previously he had no oversight of how allied health staff were using their time because data input was paper-based and inconsistent. This meant that the “validity of any data was always very questionable”.


Being able to clearly see what care is being delivered and how that links to patient outcomes will ultimately improve patient care.


“We are going to have visibility of the input of allied health far and above anything that we have had before and our ability to capture data consistently will be light years ahead,” Chadwick says.


“When we have good early input of allied health data in a hospital setting, this will lead to shorter length of stays and better outcomes for patients.”


“It’s all about process improvement. How do we improve our systems at a global level to ensure we’re providing the right level of care, and if we’re not, why not?”


Chadwick says the DHB’s implementation approach has been to use small tests of change. Initially, just a couple of clinicians used the system for a day, then lessons from that trial were incorporated before it was introduced to a wider group.


“We don’t have the resource to do the whole service in a single swoop, so rather than trying to do a big bang, this is a very purposeful and methodical cycle of change,” he explains.


Once the system is fully implemented and accepted, the DHB will start looking at the consistency of data input, to ensure they can get a quality data output.


“As with any IT process, the actual kit and software is almost secondary to the process of change itself, so we’re very much trying to focus on the people and making sure people are using it, rather than the outcomes at this stage,” he says.


The barcoding system will ultimately feed information back into other IT systems in use at the DHB.


There is also “considerable interest” in extending the technology to other areas, Chadwick adds.


PROJECT CONTACT: To find out more about this project please email Martin Chadwick

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