Using artificial intelligence, Florida-based Tampa General Hospital (TGH) is streamlining patient navigation within the hospital by improving the efficiency of its patient transport department. Collaborating with an American company called Enroute, Tampa General is speeding up the processes of admitting, moving and discharging patients, and enhancing the health care experience while improving efficiency.

One of the challenges of any hospital is operational flow, where hundreds of people must be in the right place at the right time. Even a process as direct as moving a patient from Point A to Point B ─ from a room bed to an operating table, for instance ─ can make a difference in improving quality of care.

Previously, patient transport was manually directed and assigned by a dispatcher who scheduled all of the runs throughout the hospital. For example, if the patient needed to be transported from their hospital room to surgery, the dispatcher assigned the transporter via a message alert on a hospital-issued secure device.  

“With Enroute, we can see the transporters’ availability, location, and if they have a wheelchair or stretcher with them in real time,” said Donna Tope, senior director of support services at the academic medical center. “The system can then automatically assign the closest transporter with the right equipment to transport that patient. It’s critical to our world-class care that the patient transport department be as efficient as possible in moving patients to the services they need to recover.”

Using existing hospital data, Enroute’s SaaS-based solution can perform multiple assignments at the same time and help team members move patients as efficiently as possible. All information is communicated through Tampa General’s secure electronic medical record to a dedicated Tampa General device carried by the transporter. Saas (Software as a Service) is an innovative way of delivering applications over the internet as a service, instead of installing and maintaining software.

“At Enroute, we’re making intra-hospital transportation as easy and as seamless as using your phone to hail and track your ride,” said Mike Kosnik, co-founder and CEO of Enroute. “Transportation and support services are the backbone of any top hospital and health system, and it’s our mission as we grow to give staff members in these departments the advanced tools necessary to thrive in their roles and ultimately provide patients with the highest levels of care.”

Tampa General, including the dispatchers, collaborated with Enroute to develop and refine an AI platform that meets the needs of the 1,041-bed hospital and others like it.  As an added benefit, the platform helps collect, organize and report information, which enhances response times. The automated system also provides data to measure employee efficiency and productivity. With this patient flow technology tool, Tampa General can achieve a number of objectives:

  • Avoid conflicts when scheduling patient trips
  • Coordinate multiple trips to minimize patient transports
  • Speed up discharge notification
  • Decrease waiting time and improve patient satisfaction
  • Increase bed utilization
  • More effectively move equipment, materials, linens, specimens and other items

The system already is proving its worth. Although the platform is still in the initial pilot period, some Tampa General departments saw patient transportation times decrease as much as 35% on average when compared to the previous two months. “Enroute allows us to better meet growing patient volumes and increase service capacity by improving our ability to move patients through the hospital,” Tope added.

The engagement is part of TGH Innoventures, the hospital’s innovation center and venture capital fund, which is dedicated to fostering innovation at Tampa General by partnering with and investing in early-stage startups. “Through our Co-Lab program, Tampa General collaborates and codevelops with early-stage health care companies to solve problems at Tampa General that have broader applicability to other systems in the industry.  As part of the program, Enroute worked closely with our transport and innovation teams to refine the AI platform’s design to elevate the transport process, while maintaining standards of excellence in patient care,” said Rachel Feinman, vice president of innovation at Tampa General and managing director of TGH Innoventures. “Supporting this type of significant innovation is exactly why TGH Innoventures was created,” Feinman said.

While Enroute found early success after deploying at a top Israeli hospital early in the pandemic, Tampa General is Enroute’s flagship customer in the U.S. The academic medical center collaborated with Enroute to integrate with its Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and refine their solution for the U.S. market.  The successful integration and deployment have helped to demonstrate both Enroute’s appeal to the American Hospital Industry and its ability to make an impact.

Officially launched in the first quarter of 2021, TGH Innoventures provides a coordinated mechanism for Tampa General Hospital to develop innovative solutions to improve quality and access to care. It also provides Tampa General with a platform to invest resources and funds into emerging companies and the venture capital funds investing in health care-focused companies.

[Source(s): Tampa General Hospital, PR Newswire]