72). This initiative would also relate to Initiative No. 6 discussed further below.
Potential Benefits. This approach could even benefit the hospital's Human Resources Service. For example, in their essay, "Determining the Size of the Temporary Workforce - an Inventory Modeling Approach," Harel and Herrer point out that determine the staffing levels at a hospital emergency room on a given night requires a determination of how many nurses and physicians are required as core employees in order to minimize staffing costs. "Since all periods are alike in terms of demand for human resources and costs," they advise, "the core workforce size is determined at the outset, and there is no reason to change it over time. As the demand fluctuates from period to period we can adjust the workforce level by hiring agency temporary workers" (21). In this regard, the authors note that a hospital inventory control system can be applied to help identify the optimal staffing levels based on past trends: "Clearly we do not hire enough people for every eventuality because this would be just too expensive. Thus, we might decide to hire less workers, and when the need arises we hire temporary workers" (Harel & Herer 22).
Initiative No. 5. Implement Interactive Menu-Processing System for Inpatients.
Description. A hospital's food service frequently represents one of the most important components of the quality of care being received from a patient's perspective; hospitals that have placed an emphasis on providing patients with superior food service have reported excellent results. One hospital that individualized its food service in this manner reported having less food waste and less uneaten food being sent back on the trays. "Patients actually order fewer meals, but they eat more food," Hudgins reports (120).
The hospital's Food Service is currently responsible for the preparation of more than 3,000 inpatient meals a day, and another 500 or so for staff members and visitors. Each inpatient that is scheduled to remain in the hospital through the following day is provided with a menu-selection card by the responsible member of Food Service; these cards are then retrieved and appropriate arrangements made for the next day's meal preparation. This is another highly labor-intensive activity that could be streamlined through information technology. Instead of the paper menu, patients would select their choices from an on-screen display using their television remote controls.
Potential Benefits. This initiative would eliminate the need for Food Service staff members to distribute menu cards and then return to patient rooms to retrieve them. This would not only save this amount of personnel time, but it would eliminate these needless intrusions into patient rooms where family members may be visiting, active treatment protocols underway, or where the patient is simply trying to rest, thereby improving privacy and patient care.
Initiative No. 6.
Improve Hospital and Grounds Security by Using it-Based Web Camera Applications.
Description. Unfortunately, hospitals in the United States are very dangerous places to work, and violence against staff members and other patients is a commonplace occurrence in many places (Cimini & Muhl 57). Currently, there are a number of areas in the hospital and surrounding grounds that are fairly isolated, particularly after normal hours; there have been numerous reports of assaults and burglaries from parking lot areas despite increased surveillance patrols by the Security Service. The installation of it-based Web cameras to provide coverage of these remote areas would improve both patient and staff security, as well as eliminate the need for extra patrol personnel since these areas could be monitored from the central control booth already located in the Security Service.
Potential Benefits. A number of Web cam vendors offer equipment that is designed to automatically take pictures, compress them, and transmit the images to World Wide Web sites, LANs, e-mail addresses, CCTV networks, or personal computers; the digitalized images can then be viewed with a standard Internet browser (a Slew of Solutions 88). The hospital Security Service can also use the bar code technology from Initiative No. 4, "Applying Existing Information Systems for Improved Inventory Control," to generate a report that shows assets by location, user, or asset identification number. According to Herdeen and his colleagues, "The report not only helps personnel locate fixed assets during inventory checks but also aids in tracing items that may turn up missing or stolen" (72). For example, if a fax machine is reportedly stolen, the Security Service can immediately retrieve the equipment's serial number, obtain the user's employee number, and download that employee's file from the human resource department (Herdeen et al. 72).
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