Digital Healing: How Big Data Helped Florida Hospital Get on Track

May 3, 2013

Like many American hospitals, the Aventura Hospital and Medical Center in Aventura, Florida, has long faced crowded waiting rooms and sought a more streamlined process for tracking empty beds and equipment. The key that cracked the problem was hiding inside a small plastic wristband the size of a digital watch. “I call it the diamond bracelet,” says charge nurse Cheryl Smith. “You don’t want to lose it.”

The bands, which Aventura started handing out to patients in April 2012, contain a radio ID (RFID) and real-time-location (RTLS) tags that feed information to AgileTrac, a GE software system that pools and crunches gigabytes of patient and equipment data, and connect patients to doctors and machines in a hospital-sized Industrial Internet.



Each patient receives the wristband during admission. It automatically checks in as they arrive in their bed, travel around the hospital, and check out. The system does the same for the equipment. “I can locate a patient as soon as my patient receives a bed or is able to move out,” nurse Smith says. “I know immediately regardless of where I am on the floor.”

The system allows staff to move patients in and out of their rooms as quickly as possible. The new system takes patients to a discharge lounge and to their families and caregivers in as fast as 30 minutes.

Aventura has calculated that AgileTrac cut more than 3,000 hours in discharge time at the 400-bed hospital over nine months. The system also dramatically freed up Aventura’s emergency room. “We are doing much better now than a year ago,” said Karen Bibbo, chief nursing officer at Aventura’s parent, HCA East Florida. She said that “not having AgileTrac would be like going from a computer back to the paper system.”