Proximity badge use is reducing computer login time for doctors

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A study was recently undertaken at the Froedtert Memorial Luteran Hospital/Medical College of Wisconsin to find a remedy for physicians visiting patients who felt they were spending too much time logging into computers and getting the PACS up and running. A way was developed using RFID-based keycards to sense the arrival of a physician so that the computer could easily be switched on with the appropriate PACS images on the screen already. The study was outlined during the Productivity & Workflow 2 scientific session yesterday at the annual meeting of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM, formerly SCAR) in Austin, Texas.
For this process to work, said Bryant F. Mascarenhas, MBA, MIS, a physician’s assistant (PA) or nurse in anticipation of the patient visit will uses a KeyCard to turn on the computer and ready the appropriate images on the PACS. Upon leaving the room, the computer locks security reasons. The physician has nothing to do upon arrival but to turn on his or her KeyCard and enter a short code which then launches the application and the correct patient files with no waiting.
Before implementing this study, the hospital found that physicians were spending up to 12 minutes on average with a patient during a visit, with nearly two minutes spent with the computer. This was too much time on the computer, said Mascarenhas.

Using this technology, they were able to shave off as much as a minute and a half in the login process, which is significant. Mascarenhas was asked about role of the PA because in essence using the tags doesn’t reduce PC time but rather transfers this to another person’s workload. In response, Mascarenhas replied that because physicians do not feel they have time to login, and if you evaluate costs of a physicians’ time rather than a nurse or PA, this approach is much more cost-effective. The effort also is seen as a way to enhance security of information within exam rooms.

The study ran into a number of challenges during the program, including:
  • The secure 4-digit codes were frequently forgotten or lost;
  • A lack of familiarity with PACS on the part of PAs was a big challenge, and thus training was required to counter this; and
  • Variations in room size can impact the reader performance.