Case Study

Q&A with Stanislaus County Health Services Agency

The primary challenge of tracking patients was not having a way to do it with enough efficiency to keep the records current. If not for the scanners, the process would otherwise be paper and pencil and in addition to the time for other paperwork, this would have held up the patient flow. Using the Sydion eMET system has allowed us to track patients using wrist bands and in addition to the ability to track their movement throughout a facility or between facilities, we are able to capture other demographic information, such as the timestamp, age, gender, what type of shot they received, their age range, and zip code.

This information is then used to track where people come from, when we’re most busy, and the age and gender groups most likely to come to our clinics. This has helped us plan future events and plan the layout and staffing requirements. As a result we have become very efficient at running flu clinics and this reduced the impact of last year’s H1N1 outbreak.

The HPP and CDC grants were the primary funding sources for the eMET and iCAM systems. Also, our OES used Homeland Security funds to purchase the eMET systems for our five hospitals. These kits included (6) Dolphin 9900 handhelds w/eMET Licenses and docking stations, (1) Dell laptop with eMET server license, (1) AppleTalk AP, and one extra eMET license for a desktop at the hospital. All five of our hospitals received one of these kits.

Actually, the HPP and CDC grant guidance required us to implement some form of electronic patient tracking. This was the primary motivator. We tend to like to be as cutting edge as we can, so we were what I would consider an early adopter, especially considering the size of our Agency. As far as Katrina being a driver, the exposure of the mess that they were faced with was pretty sobering for every county in the country. I don’t think any jurisdiction wants to be faced with a situation like that, and the hope is that having a system in place will help with family re-unification and general patient and evacuee tracking. The biggest issue they were faced with was not knowing where people were sent once they left the Superdome, and people ended up all over the country.

Responsiveness, great service, and an innovative spirit are always my primary reasons for going with a vendor, followed by competitive pricing as the budget is always a major driver too. We interviewed several vendors and I always look for the vendor that offers something extra in terms of support or functionality, and Sydion offered both, more functionality and the support has been excellent.

We selected Sydion and signed the license agreement in May 2007. We first implemented the eMET system with (9) Symbol MC50 handhelds and then added 11 more about a year later for a total of 20. We also have 2 Dolphin 9900’s and an enterprise server for both the eMET and iCAM systems and a couple of laptop licenses for these too. We used the system during a large flu vaccination clinic in October 2007 to put the system to the test. We vaccinated and fully tracked over 3000 people in about four hours, tracking the time it took for them to move through the entire clinic and every stop in between.

We used it again in November 2008 and then used it for the real thing at every one of our 7 H1N1 community clinics at the end of 09 and through February of this year. We scanned and tracked over 10,000 patients this season. We’re planning to use the system for our seasonal flu clinics this year and going forward. This keeps us in practice.

Now that the hospitals have their own systems, we're beginning to use the system during our monthly triage drills as well. The goal is to have all five using the system during the drills at an enterprise level, sending real-time data to our enterprise server throughout the drill. We are on our way to achieving that goal.

Our strategic goals were to build a comprehensive emergency preparation plan supported with electronic tracking and global visibility to our assets/materials/maintenance records. Integration of all our Sydion components and partner participation are critical to continued viability. Planning and drilling are the only way to keep systems, primarily focused on emergency use, viable. I’m also always looking for creative ways to incorporate these systems into the daily routine, as long as it improves efficiency or quality and the user community buys into it.

We now know where our materials are, have well-defined protocols and we can leverage this data throughout all of our operations. A primary benefit has been efficiency - we now know real-time what inventory we have in house, and how much our partners have. We save a lot of time and have much more useful data. It has also driven us to create and maintain better processes and we have seen efficiencies in the new processes. The reports and data we have extracted from both eMET and iCAM have helped drive business decisions and create efficiencies.

We have successfully migrated from our previous manual paper based systems for tracking patients and disaster inventory, to Sydion’s electronic systems. As a result, our tracking and reporting capabilities in all of these areas have greatly improved. In addition to tracking patients and resources, we are now able to track vaccination clinic visitors using the eMET Patient Tracking system, and in addition to daily use for emergency inventory tracking, the iCAM inventory system was used during the H1N1 outbreak for tracking the movement and distribution of H1N1 vaccine, as well as our flu prophylaxis stockpile. Today with Sydion’s tools, support and training we feel we are as ready as we can be!
Randy FikeApplications Specialist III Stanislaus County