What Do Health Care and Sports Have in Common? Workflow Improvement Wins

By Paul Gallese, PT, MBA

Health care and sports have more in common than you might think, especially in regard to performance and workflow improvement.

Improving performance in both depends on analyzing the movements and locations of your team members and making adjustments to achieve better outcomes, whether those outcomes are victories in games or reduced adverse events in health care. In other words, workflow improvement wins.

Professional sports teams gather incredible amounts of performance data, then have their athletes make adjustments in real time. Take baseball, for example – coaches record each hitter’s swing at each at-bat. When flaws are found, coaches help hitters adjust. The same is true for pitchers as they deliver the ball to the plate; any defect in a pitcher’s motion is identified and fixed.

In virtually any sport, players’ positions and movements on the field, ice or court are carefully noted and adjusted to best advantage. Championship teams develop consistency in their players’ movements and locations. Players repeatedly practice and drill until these winning movements and positions turn into muscle memory and become second nature.

Location and movement mapping has come to healthcare workflow improvement

Exciting new advancements in Bluetooth technology now enable healthcare organizations to track and map the movements and locations of staff during the course of a shift. This workflow monitoring enables unit managers to optimize the time caregivers spend on direct patient care and engagement. Different from the infrared technology that detects patient movement in and around a patient’s bed, this Bluetooth technology monitors movements and locations within the rooms and hallways of the entire unit – providing the data that makes workflow improvement possible.

Vitalacy’s Bluetooth technology tracks your care providers – your players – whose actions over the course of a shift have the greatest impact on your patient safety outcomes. The technology provides the data unit managers need to deploy staff to best defend against adverse events such as healthcare-acquired infections caused by inadequate hand hygiene compliance and healthcare-acquired conditions such as patient falls, pressure ulcers, venous thromboembolism (VTE), and adverse drug events (Vitalacy, 2019).

While monitoring patient movement has value, it cannot provide the predictive information required to make your caregivers’ workflow as effective as it can be.

Vitalacy’s technology engages care providers in a team effort to enhance patient safety through better workflow. Designed to help caregivers do their jobs better rather than to find fault, the technology can help them improve their hand hygiene compliance, make their rounding more purposeful and effective, and document and avoid fatigue.

Understanding and improving workflow is essential to improving patient safety

During the first conversation I had with Ann Blouin, health care consultant and Vitalacy board member, she said, "You know it strikes me that once you understand workflow, you've figured out everything." And I stopped and I said, "so what you're saying is, understanding workflow is our competence." She said, "Exactly and your clients need to understand this."

The core competency of the Vitalacy Patient Safety Platform is to help healthcare organizations to better understand workflow, and then how to adjust and improve it to achieve better patient safety and clinical outcomes.

The platform works by linking each caregiver to data gathering sensors by the use of something very innocuous – a simple wristband or name badge tag, which tracks the care provider’s movements and locations throughout the shift. It’s like wearing a watch or a Fitbit.

Vitalacy is in the business of empowering hospitals with advanced workflow and patient safety data integration. We provide predictive data that enables organizations to change workflow for the better, not retrospective data that only tells you what happened in the past.

At the end of the day, it’s not about tracking; it’s not about finding out about all the errors you’ve made, and not about using an asset-tracking system to find out where all of your IoT-enabled stuff is located. It’s about understanding caregiver-patient engagement and how it can be strengthened. It’s about understanding how care providers do their jobs. And it’s about having the actionable data you need to make workflow improvements that allow them to do their jobs better.

Paul Gallese is Vitalacy’s Chief Operating Officer



Vitalacy, Inc. Finding new ways to prevent healthcare-acquired infections and conditions. Mar. 14, 2019.

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