TRAVERSE CITY — Aker Eye/Vision Source, an eye clinic in Titusville, Fla., is one of the first optometry practices in the nation to improve patient flow and efficiency with a Real-time Locating System from Traverse City-based Versus Technology Inc. (OTCPINK: VSTI).
The Versus Advantages Clinic patient flow system, an RTLS consisting of staff and patient badges that communicate with wireless V-Link sensors installed in each patient care area, tracks and times the stages of each patient visit — for example, check-in, pre-testing, examination and more.
While the times are recorded, real-time locations of patients and staff are displayed on an electronic Glance-and-Go floor plan of the office. Pop-up messages also alert optometrists when patients are ready to be seen.
Greg Aker, O.D., discovered the patient flow system while searching for ways to reduce stress for his staff. Between two optometrists, his practice can see as many as 65 patients per day.
“We were getting bogged down,” he said, and the heavy patient load was taking a toll. “I knew there had to be a way to smooth the process out.”
The eye center implemented the Advantages Clinic RTLS in January. The system immediately improved the clinic’s efficiency. On the very first day, the average patient’s overall visit time was reduced by 10 minutes.
According to Aker, that’s because the Advantages system offers real-time visibility and alerts to help keep patients moving through the office efficiently.
Aker explained the immediate benefit that his staff receive: “At a glance, they know how many patients are waiting, and they know if an exam room is full. Before, they would literally have to get up, walk down the hall, walk in, look in the exam rooms to see which one is free, walk back up, get the patient, and bring them back. The Versus system eliminated that.”
For the optometrists, the system’s alerts and timers are motivators to keep patient flow moving.
“It’s the best part about the whole system,” Aker said. “I’m seeing a timer tick by with how long the patient’s been waiting for me. If the patient’s been left alone for 15 minutes, this blue alert turns to red, so I know, boy, I better get in there.”
What do patients think of the system?
“I’ve invested in a lot of technologically advanced equipment throughout the whole office — it’s kind of a theme around here,” Aker said. But the Versus Glance-and-Go monitors are what “wows” his patients. “Oh, they marvel. They just shake their heads and say, ‘You’re the most advanced office I’ve ever seen.’”
As for staff, Aker says that out of all the technology he uses, the Advantages Clinic RTLS is the one system that has made their work day better: “Multiple employees have come to me and said, ‘Hands down this is the best thing you’ve ever done.’ That’s a powerful statement.”
Aker expects efficiencies gained from the system will grow as he begins to use the historical data offered through Versus’ Reports Plus Analytics software. Ready-made reports compare wait times, overall visit times or other metrics against benchmarks to identify potential bottlenecks in patient flow.
While Versus’ RTLS has been used in hospitals for more than 20 years, Aker Eye/Vision Source joins Key-Whitman Eye Center, with offices in Dallas, Plano and Arlington, Texas, as one of only two optometry practices in the nation using the technology.
Versus is the first RTLS vendor to offer affordable real-time locating to clinics of all sizes, thanks to its new V-Link sensory network. The battery-powered, wireless V-Link sensors are quickly and easily installed in a matter of days, without pulling wire. Together with the 10th-generation, AC-powered V-Direct sensory network, V-Link allows Versus and its Certified System Integrators to offer comprehensive options to healthcare facilities exploring the benefits of RTLS.