Reliable Operating Room Project Expands

The ‘Reliable Operating Room Research Project’ kicked off at Northern Hospital Epping in November last year, in partnership with the University of Melbourne – School of Computing and Information Systems, with the aim to enable Northern Health to study the activities of our staff in the operating room.

Gabriele Marini, PhD candidate from the University of Melbourne, who runs this project, explained the system is designed to help understand how people are moving within the building, and provide crucial information on the entire flow. Our staff were carrying Bluetooth beacons to help the researchers track their movement.

This year, the project is expanding to encompass patients as well.

Gabriele explained the first stage of the project involved the initial deployment of the devices and the beacons. During this time, the system was monitored and refined when necessary to ensure it was working as expected. The placement of the devices was also frequently reviewed to ensure the indoor location was able to detect signals accurately enough to be used to compute aggregate statistics over a long-term study. The project is now ready to enter the next phase.

“The purpose of the next phase is to track the location and movement of both staff and patients. The resulting data will be used to identify metrics and correlations between patient and staff movements. This set of metrics will then allow us to generate a statistical model to define and potentially predict how well the theatre schedule is going to function in the future,” Gabriele explained.

Collecting this information will enable researchers to potentially identify drawbacks and possible improvements in surgery scheduling.

“In order for this data collection phase to be successful, it is important that beacons are carried during movements around the hospital and devices remain plugged in when possible as they can only last half a day without power. This will ensure the data collected is clean and constant, which will provide the best outcome for the analysis,” Gabriele explained.

All data collected is anonymous and only the identification number of the beacon and the role covered by its holder will be recorded for the purpose of the analysis.

Clare McCarthy, Project Manager, said this research reflects our work towards becoming a highly reliable organisation.

“It’s about creating an awareness and looking at our systems and practices from another perspective. This project will get people talking about improvements, safety and technology, while creating learning opportunities and building resilience. That’s the hallmark of high reliability,” she said.

“We understand that giving out beacons to patients or even remembering to attach it to the badge might be another one of the many things to remember every day, however it would be greatly appreciated if it is done in support of the study,” Gabriele added.