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PTA Blog Talk

Collecting Data

Published April 23, 2014 9:09 PM by Jason Marketti

When United Parcel Service (UPS) began to collect data on drivers and their trucks, there were some improvements. These included no more key locks in doors because they slowed the drivers down and use of a computer clipboard that also held data on how the truck was loaded and the best routes to take to deliver the packages. Productivity went from 90 package deliveries a day to 120. The sensors in the truck also monitored how often drivers were backing up and at what speeds they were going. These changes increased their productivity, enabling them to deliver packages and complete their jobs efficiently throughout the day.

In the hospital and SNF setting we often backtrack because a patient isn't ready, get delayed by nursing because medication was not given, or have to leave a treatment because family has arrived and the patient asks (demands) we end so they can visit. These things kill our normal productivity levels, so maybe we can learn from UPS.

Putting sensors on a therapist seems feasible to track movements throughout a facility to see how many times we try to see patients. The sensors could monitor when we are in contact with a patient and exactly how long we spent treating the person. This information could be relayed to a number cruncher, who could then set up our schedules and let us know the best times to see patients and quickest routes to get to each room. Our productivity should improve based on this model.

Except we are dealing with humans who are ill and there are too many variables to contend with. But it might be worth an attempt to have the sensors placed to prove we are on the move all day looking for patients to work with. When the number crunchers see that we are moving all day, maybe the productivity demands now in place will go away. Then we can concentrate on our treatments and not how long we're in the facility doing our job.

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What you are describing is called "process mapping" which is a part of lean management. Looking for ways that time, travel, and such are wasted during the day. One of the inherent obstacles in SNF settings is the conflicting needs of nursing, patients, doctors, visitors and therapists converging at the same time. It would be interesting to take a single SNF and try and figure out a way to eliminate waste (there's a lot!) and then write it up as evidence for other homes to replicate.

Dean Metz April 24, 2014 11:37 AM

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About this Blog

    Jason J. Marketti
    Occupation: Physical Therapist Assistant
    Setting: San Jacinto, CA
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