California Hospital Uses InformaCast® to Help Keep Track of Wandering Patients

Laguna Honda Hospital Uses InformaCast to Track Wandering Patients
Case StudiesHealthcare

Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center is a 780-bed, skilled nursing facility operated by the San Francisco Department of Public Health. The staff at Laguna Honda have been providing award-winning care to the diverse population of San Francisco since 1866.

The Challenge:

Laguna Honda looks to provide excellent care and patient safety while operating on a budget. One of the toughest challenges is caring for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia and being alerted if they wander from designated areas.

The Solution:

Laguna Honda uses InformaCast critical notification and alert software to integrate with its Stanley Healthcare RFID tag system to track patient location, warn patients and staff when patients wander out of a designated area and trigger prerecorded messages. An emergency notification is sent to a set of recipients (i.e. patients and staff), notifying them that a patient has wandered out of a designated area.

Tracking Wandering Patients

Laguna Honda faces the same challenges as many healthcare facilities: striving to provide excellent care and patient safety while operating on a budget. One of the toughest challenges for any healthcare institution is how to best care for patients who have Alzheimer’s or dementia, what to do if they wander from designated areas, and how to contact them and staff in a language/voice to which they’d best respond.

Laguna Honda already had an AeroScout RFID tag system in place and knew it needed a system that could integrate with AeroScout, track the location of patients, and warn patients and staff when a patient wandered out of a designated area. It also needed to be able to play messages in multiple languages and store multiple recorded messages.

“When we gave AeroScout the list of all our mandatory requirements, only InformaCast was able to fulfill those prerequisites for us,” explains Mike Llewellyn, Chief Operating Officer at Laguna Honda. “It did everything that we wanted.”

Sending Critical Messages

InformaCast allows users to pre-record and store unlimited messages and use dynamic text within notifications. The system also gives the option of recording messages or uploading WAV files in any language. Those messages can then be broadcast to a set of recipients (i.e. patients and staff), notifying them that a patient has wandered out of a designated area (determined through AeroScout RFID technology).

“InformaCast has a great deal to do with patient safety. It allows us to take better care of our dementia and Alzheimer’s patients because with a wandering resident, they can easily walk out the front door. We have 62 wooded acres here; they could be hard to find if they get outside unescorted,” explains Llewellyn. “Out of 780 beds, we have a very small percentage with a wander issue, so we put in InformaCast just for a small handful of patients because it allows us to take care of them better.”

Before the integration of the InformaCast system, staff at Laguna Honda had to use an alarm system called a “wander guard” to help protect patients from wandering off.

“Once a patient passed a certain point, a bell went off,” said Llewellyn. “Then, the buzzer kept ringing, which meant a nurse would have to get up, acknowledge the alarm, and then try to track down the resident.”

Now, when a resident begins to wander out of their designated area, “they get a pre-warning message that has been recorded in a language they understand well, or in their own loved one’s voice, that tells them ‘please turn around’. We are using that as a teaching method so they actually do turn around,” said Llewellyn.

“Some patients respond better to a voice that is familiar to them,” explains Donna Valencia, nursing manager at Laguna Honda. “InformaCast has the ability to individualize the message, not just with the language, but even if a specific person would respond better with the voice of their mom, we can use that and record that voice.

Laguna Honda is currently using InformaCast to send messages in three different languages: English, Spanish, and Cantonese. In addition to the message the patient hears, another notification is sent to the nurse’s station telling them where that patient is. Thanks to the integration between the AeroScout system and InformaCast, staff at Laguna Honda are able to observe how effective the new system is.

“We can actually see how well the solution is working for certain residents and if we need to change the actual voice message or what it says,” explains Llewellyn. “It also allows us to save labor dollars because we are not using the nurse to acknowledge the alarm or find someone. We are now using the AeroScout system to find that person and the InformaCast system to turn them around.”

The Benefit

By integrating its existing system with InformaCast, the hospital was able to come up with an efficient and cost-effective solution to the challenge of patient wandering.

The system has become extremely valuable to us,” explains Llewellyn “It allows the nursing staff to actually spend more time with the residents taking care of them and to keep better track of the residents when they are around campus.”

The integration of InformaCast has been well received by the staff at Laguna Honda and the families of the residents there.

“The nursing staff is very excited about InformaCast,” says Valencia.

“The families [of the residents] see it as a positive way to take care of their loved ones,” explains Llewellyn. “They know that if the family member has a wander issue, their voice helps them return.”

Visit our Healthcare page for more information about how InformaCast can help enhance safety and communication for patients and staff.