The paper has a badge attached to it that sends a signal to certain sensing receivers in the clinic, and also activates timer algorithms to monitor patient flow. For instance, when the patient reaches the exam room, that time gets logged.
"We're trying to provide the staff who work in this environment with an indicator of, 'Are you in flow?' " Hoss says. " 'Are you just outside of the variation that we would want to see within the flow? Do we need additional resources?' It gives us a little bit of predictive opportunity." These milestones can also build in waiting time when necessary, such as allowing a patient to sit calmly in an exam room so as to get an accurate blood pressure reading, Hoss says.
"Everything is standardized. We've removed as much variation as we possibly can in this process. We're hoping that the days that patients come in and say 'I had to wait an hour to see my doctor' is something in the past, rather than a common standard practice."
As the Internet of Things continues its spread through healthcare, Hoss notes that providers will continue to learn as they go.
"Going blindly into this type of process is a very difficult task," he says. He recommends collaborating with technology partners such as the one Sanford uses, Intelligent InSites, which specializes in real-time operational intelligence solutions for healthcare workflow.
"They're a local business that has developed the architecture for operational intelligence which works with various different tags and badge providers from other vendors," Hoss says. "They're the real platform of this. It's the database. It's the real guts to the software that will help us with this whole thing."
This article appears in the June 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.