Kiosk System Cuts Costs, Boosts Compliance and Automates Scrubs Tracking
Medical facility managers are always looking for ways to bend the cost curve and ensure compliance with all of the regulations faced on a daily basis — while at the same time safeguarding patient care.
Sai Systems Technologies understands this operational predicament and strives to provide compliance management systems to the healthcare industry to ease the burden of these tasks.
Minding the Grubby Scrubbies
In 2014, Sai Systems of San Marcos, California, approached eXcelisys with an idea for a scrub tracking solution utilizing a check-in/check-out system run through an iPad. Imagine the problem. In a typical hospital setting, pre-shift scrub dispersal and post-shift roundup are managed through an honor system. Staff members arrive at the facility. They suit up in surgical scrubs. After their shift, they return the scrubs to a laundry bin.
But a system like this leaves room for chaos. First off, there’s the matter of attrition. If scrubs aren’t returned, the facility loses money. Second, there’s a compliance issue. Anyone who’s watched enough television can envision an operating room filled with scrub-clad doctors being splattered with bodily fluids. Without scrub tracking, hospital administrators cannot know if staffers are following regulatory requirements pertaining to soiled scrubs. There’s also a potential for grab-and-go abuse with unauthorized users helping themselves to scrubs.
Then there’s the accounting piece. For hospitals that “lease” scrubs through an outside vendor, administrators have no way of knowing if they are being charged appropriately because they have no idea how many sets of scrubs are actually being used. On any given day, there are also outside vendors coming to the facility using scrubs that need to be tracked.
FileMaker Go Assists in Scrub Tracking Fix
As Sai Vice President John Osborn looked at the issues, he knew there had to be a better way. “The initial concept was for inventory tracking for surgical attire, providing a low-cost solution to hospitals to do something they haven’t been able to do — track inventory and keep compliant.” Osborn saw some facilities using vending machines to deliver leased scrubs but he recognized that the hulky contraptions were both cost- and space-prohibitive. “The machines are big and expensive,” Osborn said. “Low-use areas don’t have and never will have the numbers to justify their use.”
As Osborn scoured for a solution, he came up with the idea for scrubTrax and contracted with eXcelisys to bring it to life. “We knew what we wanted, but we didn’t know how to get there.” Osborn wanted the inventory management system to use FileMaker Pro and integrate with an iPad. The system also needed 1D and 2D barcode scanning abilities. Osborn explained what he needed and left the execution up to eXcelisys.
In the end, eXcelisys designed a Kiosk using FileMaker Go, which consists of an Apple iPad Mini physically integrated and locked into an easily accessible small stand that can be installed anywhere. FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Go provide the backend brains for the system, which also utilizes the Infinite Peripherals Infinea Tab M 2D scanner and the FMLinea bridge app by Alexey Dubov, as well as MirrorSync2 by 360Works.
iPad Kiosk an Efficient, Easy-to-Use Remedy
In 2015, scrubTrax debuted at the University of Kansas Medical Center. The nifty, small-footprint system proved easy to use. It works like this. The employee grabs a clean scrub top and scrub bottom from the scrub cart, then logs in to the kiosk by typing a user ID and PIN or scanning an ID badge. Next, the employee scans the barcodes on both the scrub top and bottoms. After the shift is completed, the employee hits “rapid return,” scans the barcodes again and dumps the scrubs into a collection cart.
On the accounting end, scrubTrax allows administrators to run reports to match scrub charges (for laundry or rental use) with the actual scrub use that occurred. In addition, the system allows administrators to check for employee compliance to ensure staffers are following health codes with regards to scrub use. Administrators also know who is failing to return the scrubs. Loss rates become transparent.
In the end, Sai was pleased with the scrubTrax platform. For starters, the custom FileMaker Pro application is easy for employees to use. Second, it meets the needs of administrators by providing detailed, up-to-date scrub tracking and usage reports that transform the data into valuable and actionable information.
Solution Yields Unending Possibilities
Once the scrubTrax system was up and running, Osborn thought of other uses for the custom FileMaker Pro tracking platform. Sai continues to work with eXcelisys to develop spin-off applications based on the same concept. “We realize there are all different flavors of customers,” Osborn said, noting FileMaker Pro’s agility allows for custom tweaks to the platform to fit different health-setting needs. “We’re developing a whole portfolio of solutions around scrubTrax.”
New medical tracking systems in the works include:
- Vendor-based scrub tracking programs. In February 2017, Sai launched a scrubTrax vendor program at the University of Iowa. The Iowa scrubTrax version — designed by eXcelisys — allows vendors to check out and return scrubs in a locker room area using an iTouch in a pistol grip. Besides scrub tracking (for cost purposes), the system allows for some ancillary vendor authorization and security tracking, helping hospitals keep tabs on which vendors are coming in, how often they are coming in and how long they are staying.
- scrubTrax 360. Sai is working with eXcelisys to create scrubTrax 360, which will offer lockdown scrub security to ensure that the casual passer-by from another department can’t walk away with the inventory. With scrubTrax 360, the scrubs won’t be kept on a shelf or cart. Instead, scrub sets will be packaged in a “keeper” — a lockable zippered envelope secured with a QR code. Employees (or vendors) can request the custom scrubs they want, mixing and matching sizes. The scrubs will be placed in the keeper and the employee will receive a lock code via an app on their phone. Only registered users will receive codes. Once the lock is “opened,” the scrub set is assigned to the user. Osborn said that unlike the oversized vending machine system, the custom keeper rack can be built to fit any space configuration — with either a horizontal or vertical stack.
- Surgical instrument tray tracking. Sai is also working with eXcelisys to create a method for tracking surgical instrument trays. Osborn said the system is aimed at helping everyone become more efficient — from the sterilization team that prepares the trays to the staff members who use them. Once again, cost and compliance are integral.
For eXcelisys project manager Kurt Knippel, it’s been satisfying to bring all of Sai’s medical tracking systems to life. It’s also proof to Kurt that a well-built database is like a sandbox with endless play value. “These tracking systems are all based on the scrubTrax platform,” said Knippel. “John has a lot of ideas and he’s in a line of business that allows him to productize the platform to make efficient use of it.”
eXceeding eXpectations Every Day
More than two and a half years into the relationship, Sai is pleased with the responsiveness of eXcelisys’ FileMaker Pro developers. Whenever Sai needs something, Osborn says a few back-and-forth texts with developer Kevin Hammond usually does the trick.
“I love Kevin. He’s doing a great job. He has been able to manage multiple tasks we’re throwing at him. He doesn’t get confused with all that’s going on and he hits our timelines. He’s on top of it. He gets it. He understands what we’re trying to do.”
– Sai Vice President John Osborn