Baptist Health Hardin - Enhancing Emergency Department Workflows and Safety with Hands-free Communication

Case Studies


In 2018, Hardin Memorial Health, now Baptist Health Hardin, doubled its emergency department (ED) square footage and increased the number of exam rooms from 27 to 65. Hospital leaders needed a solution to keep staff connected and safe in the much larger ED, while improving workflow efficiencies.

“The ED is a hospital within a hospital,” explained Steve White, Assistant Vice President of Operations at Baptist Health Hardin. “With our expansion, people became more dispersed and shoulder-to-shoulder communication went away. We also became one of the busiest EDs in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Leadership knew smartphones were not the answer because ED clinicians had already tried using a smartphone app from a Florida-based company, and adoption was low.

“A cumbersome smartphone is not conducive to a fast-paced environment like the ED,” said Deanna Parker, MBA, MHA, BSN, RN, Assistant Vice President of Emergency Services at Baptist Health Hardin. “Our clinicians cannot afford to text and wait or spend valuable time looking for one another.”


After evaluating the Vocera system, hospital leaders knew it was the communication solution the ED staff needed. Using the hands-free, wearable Vocera Badge, staff can quickly connect with individuals by name or role, using simple voice commands like “Call Respiratory Therapist.” They can also use the Badge to activate specific emergency teams by using commands like, “Call Code Blue.” Each person assigned to those specific teams receives the call on their Badge and can act immediately.

Vocera technology enables staff to prepare for incoming trauma patients. When emergency medical service (EMS) providers call to notify the ED of an incoming patient, the team member receiving the notification can broadcast a message to the right response group via Vocera. Each team member assigned to that code group receives the alert on their Vocera device and can quickly assemble to the right trauma room with the right supplies, so everything is ready when the patient arrives.

Baptist Health Hardin uses Vocera technology as part of their sepsis surveillance workflow. Care team members receive an alert on their Badge if a patient shows an indication for sepsis based on temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate. The notification enables staff to quickly initiate the right sepsis antibiotics and improve patient outcomes.  

Because all ancillary departments that support the ED use Vocera, including laboratory and radiology, ED staff can quickly and efficiently receive patients’ diagnostic results. This supports throughput and helps reduce patient wait times associated with completing diagnostic testing, like labs and X-rays.

When COVID-19 hit in 2020, the ED was well-prepared to communicate quickly and safely because their Vocera devices work under personal protective equipment (PPE), which helped the team preserve this valuable resource and streamline communication in isolation environments.

“Care team members can exchange vital information with each other or request help without stopping care delivery or leaving the patient’s bedside,” Parker said. “We do not have to worry about gaps in communication while wearing PPE.”

In emergency situations, staff can reach help right away using the Vocera panic feature. If a nurse is in a room with an aggressive patient, for example, the nurse can quickly and discretely double-tap their Badge to summon help from security staff.

“EDs have a lot of safety risks,” Parker said. “Vocera technology provides our staff with an additional safety net, which helps them feel more safe and secure at work.”

Staff who do not provide hands-on care, but still need to stay connected, use the Vocera app. Leadership can easily send and receive messages and see who is on-call via the Vocera smartphone app or desktop web console.

“The beauty of Vocera technology is that it truly allows you to choose the device that makes the most sense for your role,” explained Parker. “While smartphones don’t have a place in the ED clinical care setting, the Vocera app is a great option for those of us not directly delivering patient care. We can easily stay in the loop.”


Since implementing Vocera technology for ED communication, Baptist Health Hardin has seen significant improvements in a multitude of categories related to clinical workflows and patient satisfaction scores.

“Hands-free communication has been a game changer for us,” Parker said. “It has helped us improve clinician collaboration and satisfaction as well as elevate patient care, safety and experience.”

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