The University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) has automated its systems to address ongoing challenges in workforce management, patient flow, and real-time knowledge and understanding of unique medical situations.


Devin Fladd, process engineering manager at UTMC, explained that the medical center had been working to improve its operational efficiency for nearly a decade, since 2010, to solve bottlenecks in patient flow.


“Through many years of improvement, we were at a point where we needed new technology to get us to the next level,” said Fladd during a HIMSS TV Interview on Oct. 17.


In Dec. 2020, UTMC had plans in place to automate its systems, and then around the same time, it got hit with a COVID-19 surge. But by automating its systems, UTMC was able to see which patients were positive and which were pending, radiology, environmental services, patient transport, and other team members knew patients’ status in real-time.


“[Before] implementation, transport and [environmental science personnel] were dispatched from manual lists,” Fladd said. “A phone call was required to request transport. Oftentimes, the line was busy. We wouldn’t have been able to sustain that way.”


UTMC adopted management tools to further its efforts to solve ongoing operational issues by pairing enterprise dashboards with automated bed management.


“It has enabled us to enhance productivity and capture data that we can use to continually improve our operations,” Fladd said. 


“With the competitiveness in the healthcare market today, we must look at how to better use technology to automate human processes, because we know there’s a huge demand for people and not a huge supply,” he added. 


After redesigning and automating its operation processes, UTMC experienced a 51 percent reduction in full-time equivalent daily hours worked in the logistics center, including a drop from 116 to 56 hours per day.


“Healthcare organizations know the importance of providing timely patient care,” Fladd said. “The ability to do so relies heavily on the secure and timely flow of information and being able to optimize that to make the right decisions at the right time.


In addition, UTMC continues to evolve, adopting emerging technologies, and modernizing its systems, Fladd said.


“It has become part of our culture and an expectation for senior leadership. By using the same system for capacity management, we have standardized the data structure, which helps us use data to guide us to future needs,” he continued.

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