Contextual Computing: A Bluetooth based approach for tracking healthcare providers in the emergency room

Joshua Frisby, Vernon Smith, Stephen Traub, Vimla Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Hospital Emergency Departments (EDs) frequently experience crowding. One of the factors that contributes to this crowding is the “door to doctor time”, which is the time from a patient's registration to when the patient is first seen by a physician. This is also one of the Meaningful Use (MU) performance measures that emergency departments report to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Current documentation methods for this measure are inaccurate due to the imprecision in manual data collection. We describe a method for automatically (in real time) and more accurately documenting the door to physician time. Using sensor-based technology, the distance between the physician and the computer is calculated by using the single board computers installed in patient rooms that log each time a Bluetooth signal is seen from a device that the physicians carry. This distance is compared automatically with the accepted room radius to determine if the physicians are present in the room at the time logged to provide greater precision. The logged times, accurate to the second, were compared with physicians’ handwritten times, showing automatic recordings to be more precise. This real time automatic method will free the physician from extra cognitive load of manually recording data. This method for evaluation of performance is generic and can be used in any other setting outside the ED, and for purposes other than measuring physician time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-104
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomedical Informatics
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Clinical workflow
  • Contextual Computing
  • Meaningful Use
  • Patient safety
  • Sensor-based tracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications


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