Halifax Health is a safety net hospital for the state of Florida. We see about 85,000 to 90,000 patient visits a year in our main campus emergency department(ED). It is one of the largest emergency departments in central Florida and includes a Level 2 Trauma Center, so the patients we care for are quite sick. Effective communication for those patients needing critical care really matters.
In 2009, we moved our ED to a brand new tower, and we didn’t want the chaotic nature of overhead paging. Most people who go to the ED are already under huge amounts of stress, and we did not want to add to that. Our chief nursing officer noticed the Vocera solution at a conference. After learning more, we decided all ED communication would go through Vocera. So when we opened our ED in our new tower in June 2009, we did not use overhead paging at all.
Efficient Communication, Less Noise
In the past, the main communication methods in our emergency department were with pagers or overhead paging. Sometimes a provider would actually yell down the hall to find somebody in an urgent situation. It could become very loud.
We needed a communication infrastructure in our ED that was complete, and we chose a Vocera solution. With Vocera technology, if you want to talk to somebody, you just tap your Vocera Badge and find them, and have your conversation in a normal tone of voice.
We broadcast everything over our Vocera Badges, so we do not need to utilize overhead paging. The communication is fast and effective, and the absence of overhead pages promotes a calmer, healing environment. When I give a tour of our ED to anyone from the information technology field, they always tell me it is the quietest ED in the world.
Before we knew it, all of our clinical units were using Vocera, and we had a very large network of healthcare providers who were communicating and caring for patients hands-free. Then we started researching secure texting options, specifically to identify a solution that the physicians could use without difficulty. We were looking for encrypted text, and for a solution that would enable HIPAA compliance.
The Vocera solution met our criteria for encryption and compliance. It is much like a normal text messaging application that all of us know how to use, but it also provides the ability to transition that text conversation into voice. And that’s what makes people say, “Oh wow, this is really cool.” It streamlines their workflow day to day.
Prior to implementing a secure texting solution at Halifax Health, the process for reaching the right physician required several steps. If a unit care team member needed to consult a physician who was wasn’t immediately available or was offsite, the communication workflow involved a staff member calling the unit clerk, who would call the hospital call center, who would then call the physician to relay the message from the unit. It could take almost 15 minutes for the right physician to receive the original message. When response time is factored in, the entire process sometimes took an hour. When Vocera’s secure texting solution is used, the physicians can be contacted almost immediately, which helps us be more efficient in caring for our patients.
Better Patient Care
To our patients, Vocera technology means a timely and coordinated response to their medical needs. When patients see their caregivers communicating in real-time, it helps them recognize that Halifax has an entire team working together to help them to get better. When a nurse is able to stay at a critically ill patient’s bedside and communicate through Vocera with another caregiver to coordinate further care, as opposed to leaving the bedside in order to make phone calls, that is in the patient’s best interest.
In hospitals, information exchange between people and systems is as important as communication between people. A patient being septic is a very big deal in hospitals, and when it comes to sepsis, timing is everything. We have a care advisory product that takes about 300 data points from the patient’s record in the EHR. This data goes into a decision tree engine in the cloud that determines if the patient could be mild, moderately, or severely septic. As soon as the system is aware of potential sepsis, it alerts the care team within seconds.
We also use Vocera Rounds, a rounding application that enables purposeful rounding at the patient bedside. Rounding on paper is not efficient at all because patient comments and requests cannot be tracked and measured. The app captures patient feedback and data in real time on the caregiver’s mobile device so that when we call the patient to follow up 28 to 48 hours after discharge, the information entered is there for easy reference.
We use Vocera technology to find the answers quickly, give the information to the patients, and have them ready to go home. It really makes a difference.
See the full story of how Halifax Health uses better communication to help deliver better patient care. Watch the video.