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Software solution
How the Region uses technology to manage
hospital beds and improve patient flow
Julie Trenholm supports hospital site staff across the Region as they work to help patients get the right care, in the right place, at the right time.
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By Susie Strachan
Jan/Feb 2019

It's bright and early on a weekday morning when Julie Trenholm logs onto her computer at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's office at 650 Main Street.

With a few clicks of the mouse, she calls up a program that monitors the status of all acute and sub-acute beds throughout the Region.

Just as radar can help air-traffic controllers keep tabs on airliners in the sky, the program - called Oculys - allows Trenholm to track the availability of beds in each of the city's six hospitals.

"It gives me a real-time look at what's occurring at all of our hospital sites," says Trenholm, pointing to the colour-coded data on her computer screen.

"I can see what type of bed is available and where the bed is located in the system," she says. "I can also see where and which site is seeing the demand for admissions and what type of bed is needed to meet the demand."

That information is extremely valuable to Trenholm. As a member of the Region's Patient Access and Transition Support (PATS) team, it's her job to help support hospital site staff across the Region as they work to ensure patients get the kind of hospital bed (acute or sub-acute) that best suits their needs. And on this morning, it is becoming apparent that she will have some work to do.

Early indications are that the Grace Hospital Emergency Department has a number of patients who need to be admitted to hospital. With one look at her computer screen, Trenholm can see that some patients are being discharged at the Victoria General Hospital, which means, a number of sub-acute beds will be available shortly. (Sub-acute beds are for patients who need to be admitted to hospital, but do not require acute or emergency care.)

Oculys screenshot
Oculys can provide users with a view of bed usage at one hospital site or at all hospitals in the city.

Trenholm swings into action. Working in conjunction with staff at both the Grace and Victoria, she sets in motion a plan to facilitate the transfer of patients from the Grace to the Victoria. In doing so, Trenholm and her hospital site colleagues have ensured the patients in question will receive the level of care that matches their needs.

Trenholm says she derives a great deal of satisfaction from helping to make the health-care system work better for patients. She also credits Oculys for making the patient transfer process more efficient.

The program was first introduced at the Grace in 2016, and installed at all Region hospitals later that same year. It works by collecting data from three existing key databases within the region: Medworxx, the Emergency Department Information System, and the Admission, Discharge and Transfer System at each hospital.

The data is fed to Oculys and can be viewed in one centralized system. This allows members of the PATS and hospital site teams to access key data, including patient admissions, discharges, and bed availability in real time.

Kellie O'Rourke, Chief Operating Officer at the Grace, says the implementation of Oculys has been a game-changer.

"Prior to Oculys, we spent a lot of time getting busy people together in one room, huddling while we shared information on the status of our units," she says. "Now with Oculys, that information is readily available to all and transparent within and across sites. The Grace has 286 beds, which will be growing slightly with the clinical consolidation plans. All our staff, from the unit managers to housekeeping and patient registration staff depend on Oculys to keep the system flowing smoothly."

Sarah Jagessar is the bed utilization facilitator at the Victoria Hospital. She uses Oculys to track the 200-some beds in the hospital, including the sub-acute beds, rehab beds, outpatient surgery beds, mental health beds, and overnight beds for patients from the urgent care department.

Photo of Sarah Jagessar

"I connect with (PATS) every morning. There definitely is more collaboration between all the sites since the program started."

Sarah Jagessar

Along with her colleague, Kurt Pay, who is the Manager for Geriatric Mental Health, they keep a close eye on what's happening at Victoria.

"I connect with (PATS) every morning," says Jagessar. "There definitely is more collaboration between all the sites since the program started. We not only are moving patients within our site, such as people from urgent care who might need one of our 10 overnight short stay beds, we're working to ease the strain on the acute-care facilities by taking in sub-acute patients."

Pay says Oculys helps them move patients into beds much more quickly.

"Prior to having Oculys, we had to run up to a unit and ask the staff there about their patients and who might be discharged soon. Today, this centralized system has all staff putting in the information," he says. "We still have to follow up, but we're not running around as much."

Moving a patient from site to site isn't as simple as making a move on a chess board. Like dealing with multiple airplanes coming in for landing at an airport, safety is of primary importance.

"The safety of each patient is always our top priority," says Trenholm. "We work with the health-care providers at each site, to ensure the patient needs can be best met, before the transfer is set up. We also make sure the staff informs the patient and their family of the move, so they know why they are transferring to another hospital."

Susie Strachan is a communications specialist with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.