Major Health Partners gains communication benefits with staff tools

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An organization operating a 48-bed hospital in Shelbyville, Ind., is using enterprisewide communication tools to gain staff efficiencies.

Slightly more than one year after moving into a new 48-bed facility and outfitting it with enterprisewide communication tools, Major Health Partners is realizing multiple benefits.

These included quicker emergency department throughput, a 7.7 percent increase in on-time surgical starts, a 5.5 percent increase in patient satisfaction with physician encounters coupled with satisfaction with nurse encounters up 8.1 percent, and satisfaction with the quietness of the hospital, up 8.4 percent.

“One of our proudest accomplishments has been deploying a clinical communication solution that our physicians actually, use,” says David Augsburger, director of clinical informatics.

The new tools come from Vocera Communications, which markets a hands-free wearable badge worn on clothing that enables clinicians and staff to verbally communicate, or a texting app on smartphones and workstations.

Clinicians have access to a smartphone app that gives real-time situational awareness of patient status and patients also get the communication badge so they can summon for help if necessary.

The app further gives information about care team availability and routes alerts to clinicians who are best equipped to respond to a patient in need. “Secure text messages and alerts with real-time situational awareness will empower our care teams to make informed decisions quickly,” Augsburger says.

In 2019, Major Health Partners will deploy the vendor’s next generation middleware applications, called Engage, with newer speech recognition software to distinguish between persons with identical-sounding names, such as Cherie and Sherry, and more robust analytics capability.

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A new analytics platform from the Engage product suite also is coming in 2019 to better understand the number of notifications, texts and alerts being made each day to identify communication bottlenecks, Augsburger notes.

Analytical queries, for instance, can identify how often front line staff nurses with a phone are getting overwhelmed from notifications coming from patients, other clinicians, staff and the pharmacy, and further queries could reveal workflow changes that may reduce burdens.

One way to cut down on the communication noise may be to frequently remind clinicians and staff who are looking for certain information to first check the electronic health record system and not reflexively text several other members to see if they have the information, according to Augsburger. “We’re looking for opportunities to mitigate fatigue issues.”

Implementation of the Engage software will start in November 2018 with a second phase going live in July 2019.

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