Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – The Value of the RTLS Community

This week, our featured RTLS in Healthcare Community member is Mithun Mukherjee – Project Director, Real-time Integration, Information Systems Division at University of Rochester Medical Center.

Infinite Leap: Mithun, can you share with us how your journey with Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) started?

Mithun Mukherjee: Back in 2013, I started working at the University of Rochester Medical Center as a Project Manager in the Information Systems Division’s PMO office. As part of a couple of key projects (a new children’s hospital and implementation of Epic Optime), I was responsible for coordinating and leading overall enterprise device integration and alarm management strategies and implementations with a cross disciplinary team of IT staff, biomedical engineers, clinical nursing and provider leadership. In late 2017 we decided to take a programmatic approach to these initiatives and created a Real-time Integration program, which I have the privilege to lead. In this role, I manage a team of three analysts responsible for implementing, supporting and optimizing a core suite of real-time enterprise, integrated, health IT applications which include an enterprise RTLS application for wireless temperature monitoring and pediatric patient safety in addition to the apps in the areas of EMR device integration, alarm management and clinical communication & collaboration – all building blocks of a Real-time Health System (RTHS) strategy.

Infinite Leap: Can you tell me more about the Real-Time Integration team?

Mithun Mukherjee: Certainly. Our team manages a portfolio of health IT applications that includes device integration middleware, alarm middleware, RTLS, and a clinical communication platform. The primary intent is to provide a scalable support model for these existing implementations and assume ownership of application support for break fix issues. In addition, by allocating dedicated resources to these key apps that already support critical operational and clinical business functions, we are in a position to maximize the institution’s investment by further optimizing and expanding their use across the enterprise. We do this by continuing to focus on crucial workflow related discussions with clinical teams and help them make data driven decisions as they leverage these tools to make the caregiving process safer and smarter.

Infinite Leap: How did your organization start with the use of Real-Time Location Systems?

Mithun Mukherjee: We have had an RTLS system for nurse/staff location at a couple of our hospitals for at least 7 years. The primary business goal for that project was to offer location based call cancellations through an integration with our nurse call system. It has also been supported primarily by the vendor’s external local integrator. In 2015, with the advent of the new Golisano Children’s Hospital tower, we were asked to meet new requirements for a pediatric/infant protection system as well as wireless temperature monitoring. Those two use cases have propelled the growth of the RTLS solution we support today. We have an active project under way to expand our existing portfolio of RTLS use cases to asset management for locating equipment infusion pumps to start with and potentially OR patient flow integrated with Epic Optime in the future.

Infinite Leap: What have been the main benefits of using RTLS in your organization?

Mithun Mukherjee: With wireless temperature monitoring has resulted in enormous operational efficiencies eliminating the documentation burden for front end pharmacy and inpatient staff. It has also been a valuable tool supporting compliance with regulatory requirements around monitoring of medication refrigeration equipment. The RTLS driven infant protection system addresses a key security need in the children’s tower by helping to keep our pediatric patients safe and secure.

Infinite Leap: It’s great to hear that RTLS brings a lot of value to your organization. Can you please explain what do you think attributes to this success?

Mithun Mukherjee: Most health IT implementations require some level of cross disciplinary collaboration for success. RTLS takes that collaboration to the next level. Spanning disciplines across hardware, application software, wireless network engineering as well as hospital business units and workflows (materials management, nursing, providers, pharmacy, environmental services), RTLS truly requires an enhanced level of cross functional collaboration, trust and understanding and demands breaking down siloes. We still have along way to go in this regard but are making progress towards this type of enhanced collaboration with translates to end user adoption and satisfaction and ultimately safe and efficient patient care.

Infinite Leap: And what is the most important lesson learned from your experience with Real-Time Technologies?

Mithun Mukherjee: Effectively Implementing new technology that involves fundamental changes in clinical workflows is an ongoing process that relies on constant process improvement in order to truly reap its benefits. These tools, if implemented correctly, have the potential to help organizations adopt truly data driven process improvement and rapid cycle improvement techniques.

Infinite Leap: And what is your advice for hospitals who are just beginning their RTLS journey?

Mithun Mukherjee: Don’t reinvent the wheel. Leverage as much of the work that has already be done in that space. My motto is “stand on the shoulders of giants,” so learn from those who are much further down the road. And build a Community! – share your best practices and lessons learned. There will be always people who are just starting on their RTLS journey and who will benefit from your experiences – good or bad.

Infinite Leap: So true. That’s why I am so happy that you reached out to me, Mithun! And speaking about the community – can you please share with us some of your personal interests?

Mithun Mukherjee: I play squash (the sport not the vegetable) and tinker with motorcycles (vintage and adventure).

If you would like to share your thoughts and best practices on RTLS, drop me a note – I’d love to chat with you to capture your experiences.