Spok software enables improved communication at North York

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North York General Hospital in Toronto recently went live on care collaboration software to eliminate manual processes and improve communications.

The organization expects the technology to improve efficiency and dialogue among the 70 or so administrators, clinicians and staff who are on call at any given time.

The hospital had been using a 20-year-old switchboard, and if any of its components broke, they needed to seek replacement parts on the secondary market, recalls Chi-Cheng Chu, information services manager. The switchboard remains but will be retrofitted with the Spok software.

“We needed a new system that would allow us to build capacity and integrate with modern technology and with all the tools our operators need in one single platform,” he adds.

Safety was big factor in the change from manual processes to an automated system, he notes. “If we can’t reach the right doctor at the right time, we’re taking a big risk that we have to mitigate.”

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Consequently, the hospital considered eight vendors and looked at five before selecting the Spok Care Connect software suite. “Other vendors were not ready for the market or did not have a complete call management solution,” according to Chu.

Now, the switchboard is integrated with an on-call calendar and personnel contact information that includes the preferred types of contact for particular clinicians, administrators and other users, depending on the time of day, where they are in the hospital or if they are home in the evening. All information also is captured to support audits and other legal issues.

“Our partnership with Spok marks a new era for our contact center and a positive impact on communication across the hospital,” says Sumon Acharjee, chief information officer. “We are able to mitigate patient safety risks by connecting nurses, physicians and others with accurate information in a fast and reliable manner. This step represents a major automation milestone by eliminating what was previously all-manual operator procedures.”

Now, North York General Hospital, which is affiliated with the University of Toronto, is implementing additional modules from Spok that include call recording, web directory and on-call scheduling, as well as enabling evaluation of how calls are handled, and ensuring staff contact information and schedule information is accurate and readily accessible.

Change management was a challenge for switchboard operators as they transitioned from paper to automation, but the changeover will keep the operators employed, according to Chu.

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