One of the key barriers to overcoming patient flow bottlenecks is the lack of feedback on what are very fragmented activities and resources that surround the patient. If you can't measure it, how can you manage it?
There are several patient management software vendors. These products tend to focus on bed management or deep departmental features (ED and OR typically), and can be somewhat complex to implement and use. A new entrant on the scene, awarix, takes a decidedly different approach. Founded by Gary York (Word document), Awarix was started in 2003. They have a reference installation at St Vincents in Birmingham, AL. Awarix key value propositions are improved patient flow/throughput, patient safety, and staff effectiveness.
Imagine dropping a rules engine on top of your current HIT apps and using that real-time data (via HL7) to drive large flat panel that is mounted in patient care areas that provide immediate feedback to users. These displays represent site specified status and indicators on a graphical representation of the care area where the display is located. Nursing, physicians, case managers -- at a glance anyone on the unit can see what rooms are occupied, rooms with planned discharges, rooms to be cleaned, etc. Also, retrospective reporting provides data needed to manage the patient flow process and improve operations.
Patient safety indicators can also be displayed - NPO, isolation, monitored patient, patient with IV, etc. Workflow can be reflected as well, with icons for new orders, stat orders, and patients who need to have vitals captured. Combined with an asset management system (they've integrated with Radianse) awarix can display asset locations and patient locations, showing when patients are leaving the unit, are in a diagnostic unit like radiology. There's also an "air traffic control" client for the bed management department. Desktop clients are available for nurse managers, housekeeping, case management, etc.
Unlike systems that try to actively automate portions of bed management workflow, awarix's goal is to provide feedback. Consequently, end user training is almost nil --consequently adoption is high.
This clearly seems to be a case of less is more.