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Tracking surgical day care patients using RFID technology
  1. L S G L Wauben1,2,3,
  2. A C P Guédon1,
  3. D F de Korne4,5,6,7,
  4. J J van den Dobbelsteen1
  1. 1Department of BioMechanical Engineering, Faculty of Mechanical, Delft University of Technology, Maritime and Materials Engineering, Delft, The Netherlands
  2. 2Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
  3. 3Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Research Centre Innovations in Care, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  4. 4Rotterdam Eye Hospital, Rotterdam Ophthalmic Institute, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  5. 5Erasmus University Rotterdam, Institute of Health Policy & Management, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  6. 6Singapore National Eye Centre, SingHealth, Singapore, Singapore
  7. 7Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Health Services & Systems Research, Singapore, Singapore
  1. Correspondence to Research Professor LSGL Wauben, Department of BioMechanical Engineering, Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Mekelweg 2, Delft 2628 CD, The Netherlands; L.S.G.L.Wauben{at}


Objective Measure wait times, characterise current information flow and define requirements for a technological information system that supports the patient's journey.

Design First, patients were observed during eight random weekdays and the durations of actions performed at each phase of the surgical trajectory were measured. Patients were grouped into patients receiving general anaesthesia or local (or topical) anaesthesia. Second (active) Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) technology was installed and patients were tracked during 52 weekdays. Length of hospital stay, length of stay and wait times per phase, and differences in wait times between the two types of administered anaesthesia were analysed. Third, interviews were conducted to characterise the current information flow between staff, and between staff and escorts (patients’ family/friends escorting them throughout their journey).

Results Observations (198 patients) showed that the average duration of actions for general anaesthesia patients took longer than for local anaesthesia patients, especially at the recovery phase (general anaesthesia: 0h16, local anaesthesia: 0h01).

RFID tracking (622 patients): Significant differences were seen for wait times between general and local anaesthesia patients at: preoperative ward (p=0.014), recovery (p<0.001) and postoperative ward (p<0.001). The average percentage of wait time during the entire hospital stay ranged from 64% to 68% (with variation in groups being substantial).

Interviews (30 escorts, 9 ward nurses and 8 holding/recovery nurses): Escorts did not use the current information system and ward nurses indicated problems with exchanging information concerning bringing/picking up patients to/from the holding/recovery that resulted in unnecessary wait times for some patients (mainly local anaesthesia patients).

Conclusions Most time spent in hospital is wait time. A Patient Tracking System was designed to automatically display the phase in which a patient is in. It provides transparency for patients and staff in the surgical trajectory and is expected to reduce intermittent communication, improve patient flow, reduce wait times and improve patient and staff satisfaction.

  • Assistive Technology
  • Inventions
  • Ophthalmology
  • Remote monitoring

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