The future of patient flow at the Grace

Oculys software program allows real-time bed management

Blady and Lamont view Oculys
Health minister Sharon Blady and WRHA chief nursing officer Lori Lamont look at the new Oculys bed management system on a tablet.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Grace Hospital is doing final tests on Oculys, a new bed-management software system expected to improve patient flow.

“Oculys provides a snapshot of activity in our facilities at any given time,” said Lori Lamont, Vice President of Inter-Professional Practice and Chief Nursing Officer for the Winnipeg Health Region, at the announcement of the Oculys system at the Grace Hospital.

“By identifying available beds more quickly, it allows us to address delays in the system, and will reduce waiting times in the emergency department and other areas of the hospital.”

The Oculys software brings together key information – including emergency wait times, in-patient admissions, discharges, bed availability and much more – into a simple data set that provides a real-time update of all key areas of a facility.

This information is then used to accommodate patients in the most appropriate settings, either through admission to hospital or short stays in the emergency department.


A snapshot of the Oculys bed-management system at the Grace Hospital. Note: the numbers are for demonstration purposes only.

The Grace Hospital was chosen as the software trial site due to its previous work in reducing wait times in the emergency department, and its patient-tracking system which helps determine what a patient needs before it is medically safe to discharge them home, says Lamont.

“The goal is to test Oculys at the Grace, starting in early February. Once the results are in, our aim is to have this software expanded to all hospitals in the region,” says Lamont.

Grace Hospital staff have been working for several months on the implementation, in conjunction with staff from Manitoba eHealth, customizing the Oculys bed-management software for local use. The software was originally developed by the Oculys health informatics company for a southern Ontario hospital.

Krista Williams, Chief Nursing Officer with the Winnipeg West Integrated Health and Social Services section of the Winnipeg Health Region, says the system will decrease the amount of time Grace staff spend on getting patients into beds.

“Currently, staff spend a lot of time making phone calls, seeking beds for patients. Oculys allows us to see in real time where the beds are available, and when a patient is pending discharge, giving us an alert that a bed will soon be available.”

The bed-management system uses feeds from three electronic patient tracking systems already in place in place at the Grace Hospital, says Williams. This information is automatically and securely fed into Oculys, showing only the number of patients in the various areas of the hospital.

“The information doesn’t include any personal information about the patients, just whether they are male or female and whether they require any special treatment, such as isolation,” says Williams. “We wanted to make the software as simple as possible, requiring a minimal amount of input from our staff, so they can see where beds are available, and where beds are about to become available on a real-time basis. It also alerts housekeeping that a patient has been discharged, so they can clean the bed and make it ready for the next patient.”

The next step is to train staff in the use of the software, before it goes live in February, says Williams. “Staff can see the information on computer screens in the units, or on the WRHA’s Blackberries,” she says.

The Winnipeg Health Region has also developed a patient flow implementation team led by Lamont. Some of the work in progress in order to improve patient flow includes:

  • Improving teamwork and communication within the emergency department and with other parts of the system.
  • Having home care workers available seven days a week to emergency departments.
  • Working to apply an over-capacity protocol to all Winnipeg Health Region emergency departments and programs.
  • Tracking all patients to reduce unnecessary waits during their stay in hospital, especially in the emergency department.
  • Providing time-based targets for physician consultation and eventual discharge for every patient.

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The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority acknowledges that it provides health services in facilities located in Treaty One and Treaty Five territories, the homelands of the Métis Nation and the original lands of the Inuit people. The WRHA respects and acknowledges harms and mistakes, and we dedicate ourselves to collaborate in partnership with First Nation, Métis and Inuit people in the spirit of reconciliation.
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