In J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels, Harry and his pals use a magical map to avoid detection as they move about their enchanted wizarding school after curfew. The marauder's map shows the location of everyone in the building, and tracks his or her movements in real time. Countless readers have dreamed of such a tool, but at
Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center
, that dream has become a reality.
Although it doesn't help patients or caregivers evade professors, the real-time location system does provide a visual representation of all patients in the hospital to ensure a smooth delivery of services from admission to discharge. Sharp Chula Vista is one of only a handful of hospitals in the nation testing this new technology.
Patients wear a watch-sized wristband embedded with a location chip that displays their exact location on a constantly refreshing visualization used by the care team. The band includes a radio-frequency identification chip, but does not carry patient health information. The system allows care providers to track transport to diagnostic testing and room re-assignments, and ensure patients with dementia do not wander away or get lost.
Christine Basiliere, Sharp Chula Vista's chief nursing officer, says the system allows them to deliver the right person to the right place, at the right time. She sees important benefits for more than just caregivers.
Deanna White, RN, director of acute care at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, demonstrates the location chip and software used by the Real Time Location System.
"Family members who call or visit can feel confident that they know where their loved one is at all times, and we can better assist emergency responders in a disaster," says Basiliere. "If there were an earthquake or fire, we would know exactly where people are and could quickly direct emergency responders to them."
Patients play important role in pilot program
The hospital's Patient Advisory Council reviewed the new technology and provided helpful feedback on types of wristband and other issues of concern to patients and families. While the pilot program is optional, Basiliere says no one has yet refused to wear the tracker.
"They think it's cool," she says. "And they are grateful that we'll know where they are at all times."
If the Chula Vista pilot proves successful, Sharp will implement the program at its three acute-care hospitals in San Diego, La Mesa and Coronado and at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, according to Janet Hanley, vice president of technology and efficiency for Sharp HealthCare.
"It is important to us to provide our patients with the best care experience possible," says Hanley. "We are now using state-of-the-art technology to help guide our patients and their loved ones through their health care journey."
Coordinated systems speed patient departures
When a patient is ready to leave the hospital, the system sends a message to the appropriate teams to coordinate completion of discharge paperwork and transport. It even alerts housekeeping to prepare the room for a new patient, helping connect patients with clean rooms faster and more efficiently.
All of this happens seamlessly within the coordinated systems. When finished, caregivers don't even need to say — as Harry Potter does — "mischief managed."
For the media: To talk with an expert about the real-time location system, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at