A customized, HIPAA-compliant smartphone app used by clinicians at a New Jersey medical center is not only improving communications and speeding up workflows but has resulted in at least $2 million in cost savings for the hospital.

For about a year, physicians, nurses and other members of the patient care teams at Jersey City Medical Center have leveraged the Practice Unite mobile app from Navio Health LLC. Doctors at the 316-bed facility credit the app with improved communications that allows them to discharge patients 20 percent faster, which translates into savings of $720,000 per year for the hospital.

Surgeons at the medical center also report that consult response times have been reduced from 2-4 hours to 15-30 minutes by implementing the mobile communication system, while emergency department physicians indicate that they are able to move patients through the ED 30 minutes faster than without the system, reducing ED delays by 15 percent.

The app, which runs on Android and iOS platforms and is based on secure texting, was developed by a member of the hospital's medical staff. Stuart Hochron, M.D., a pulmonologist and 30-year practicing primary care physician, wanted to break down communications and workflow barriers. "It's hard to get in touch with people when they're seeing patients and are scattered around in operating rooms or across town," says Hochron. “If you’re going to reach physicians, you have to make it quick and easy and put it in a formula that they are comfortable with.”

In the future, Jersey City Medical Center plans to integrate the Practice Unite app with its electronic health record, scheduling and laboratory reporting systems to realize further gains in clinical productivity.

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