Clinicians Respond to Patient Requests Faster at Community Health Network

A health system integrates Epic MyChart Bedside with Vocera communication as one of several innovations to improve the experience for patients and care teams

Relax with a warm blanket. Dim the lights to get some healing rest. Pull the curtain for more privacy. Understand what’s happening with your care and what’s going to happen next.

For patients and families, a hospital stay becomes more comfortable when they feel a sense of control over the immediate environment. They gain peace of mind when they can make sense of care-related information like medications, appointments, the care plan, and more.

At Community Health Network (CHNw), providing the most comfortable and positive patient experience is at the forefront of the health system’s priorities. That’s why CHNw equips patients with a bedside solution – the Epic MyChart Bedside app on a tablet – that lets them easily communicate with their care team and be more involved in managing their own health.

Improving the Patient Experience Through Epic MyChart Bedside Integration

The Epic MyChart Bedside app allows patients to access and make sense of their medical data. The app also has an "I Would Like” section through which patients can request items such as a warm blanket or a fresh gown. The app is designed so that when a patient makes a request, it generates a flag in the Epic system.

It’s a terrific concept, but initially there was just one problem: The care team would receive no notification of the patient request. Team members would have to remember to manually access the Epic dashboard to see patient requests. Patient request notifications could sit in the queue for extended periods before being seen.

True to CHNw’s core value of innovation, the health system devised a novel way to allow requests from MyChart Bedside to be sent directly to a patient’s care team. They did it by integrating the app with their Vocera® Communication System.

Some hospitals within CHNw have used the Vocera Platform for over a decade to enable care teams to communicate instantly. Wearing the Vocera Badge, which is a hands-free communication device, colleagues connect simply by saying the name, role, or group of whom they want to reach.

Now, when a patient makes a request in MyChart Bedside, the request goes directly to the appropriate care team member on the Vocera Badge. The care team member instantly sees the patient request and can respond, with no need to log into the Epic dashboard.

Measurable Improvement

When CHNw began integrating MyChart Bedside with the Vocera Platform, the health system quickly saw an improvement in patient care and in the patient and staff experience. HCAHPS scores related to “responsiveness of staff” improved 9.7% – an increase from 67 to 73.5. HCAHPS scores related to “communication with nurses” improved 6.0% – jumping from 79.7 to 84.5.

“Through the successful integration with Vocera, we have been able to enhance the functionality of MyChart Bedside, giving our patients quick access to their healthcare team while supporting a more efficient caregiver workflow,” said Sean Kennedy, MBA, BSN, RN, CEN, Vice President of Operations at Community Hospital East. “Our caregivers save valuable time and steps because they know what their patient needs before entering the patient’s room.”

“The Vocera technical support team was incredibly accommodating and helped us figure out how to send the MyChart Bedside alerts to Vocera Badges,” said Barb Miller, MSN, RN, ITIL, Business Relationship Manager at Community Howard Regional Health. “We wouldn’t have turned the feature on if the Vocera team had not been so willing to partner with us.”

Creating a Better Experience Through Nurse Call Integration

By integrating their nurse call system with the Vocera Platform, CHNw has created an additional way for care teams to be highly responsive.

In the past when a patient made a nurse-call request, a care team member would respond to the call light by walking to the console at the nurses’ station or to the patient’s room.

Today when a patient makes a nurse-call request, the care team member is notified instantly on the Vocera Badge and can accept the request or call back directly to the patient’s bedside pillow speaker.

“Interoperability between our nurse call and Vocera systems enables caregivers to respond to our patient’s needs faster,” explained Deborah Lyons, DNP, RN, Network Community Integration Executive Director at CHNw. “It also simplifies our workflows, which improves care team members’ experience and well-being.”

Improving Patient and Staff Safety

In addition to transforming the patient and caregiver experience by integrating the Vocera Platform with Epic MyChart Bedside and nurse call, CHNw is using Vocera technology to strengthen safety for patients and staff. If someone is in a dangerous situation, whether a patient is at risk of falling or a staff member is faced with an agitated patient, it’s easy to summon help.

“Vocera gives us peace of mind knowing we’ve provided our care teams with a device that keeps our caregivers and patients connected and safe,” said Jean Putnam, DNP, MS, RN, CPHQ, Executive Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Community Health Network. “Our care teams depend on Vocera to have the unique ability to connect quickly, with the push of a button. Without the Vocera Badge, care teams would be shouting down hallways and struggling to find the person they need.”

Hardwiring Humanity at the End of Life

CHNw strives to innovate in support of its primary value of “patients first.” The health system is a member of the Experience Innovation Network, part of Vocera. The Experience Innovation Network is a global community of industry pioneers that works to transform the healthcare experience and restore the human connection to healthcare.

“The Experience Innovation Network is continually creating frameworks and highlighting innovations to help members think and act differently,” said Tom Malasto, Chief Patient Experience Officer at CHNw. “The network continues to influence the way we connect humanity and technology.”

The Experience Innovation Network’s Code Lavender® Toolkit inspired CHNw to support their care team members during moments of high stress. When a patient dies in any hospital, it can sometimes feel like team members are pressured to move on to the next task without stopping to acknowledge the death. One of the Experience Innovation Network’s frameworks inspired CHNw to hardwire humanity and broadcast a ‘Pause’ command to Vocera Badges whenever a patient passes away. The Pause invites staff to take a moment to reflect on the death of a fellow human being and to experience their own emotions.

Innovation Is Everywhere

Whether CHNw is improving patients’ experience and safety by integrating MyChart Bedside and nurse call with their communication system, safeguarding patients and staff, or supporting staff in times of grief, innovation is at the core of all they do to deliver quality patient care. 

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