Enhancing Workplace Safety with a Proactive Approach

Case Studies

The Vocera Communication System keeps staff and security in touch

Proactive Step for Safety in the Workplace

At Toronto East General Hospital (TEGH), staff safety is a top priority and much care is taken to ensure everyone feels safe and protected in their work environment. Illness—and simply being in a hospital—can be a significant stressor for patients and visitors alike. Workplace violence is historically increasing at hospitals globally, taking note of this alarming trend,
TEGH took proactive steps to prevent and mitigate potential threats to staff.

Preventive Mission: Violence Will Not Be Tolerated

In 2008, TEGH conducted research regarding security response times. Although the hospital performed well in comparison to industry statistics, TEGH hospital management wanted to further enhance its preventive security measures. As a result, President and CEO, Rob Devitt, and other hospital leaders made the strategic decision to address the problem
head-on with a pledge to keep staff safe and create a zero-tolerance work environment.

One key to providing enforcement of the zero-tolerance policy was the implementation of the Vocera® Communication System, featuring the wireless, wearable Vocera Communication Badge. Vocera enabled the hospital’s security team to communicate more efficiently with staff, which helped prevent volatile situations from escalating and enabled security support to be mobile within seconds.

Vocera was selected over other communication systems because it offered a way for security and staff to communicate hands-free anywhere in the hospital. If staff found themselves in a dangerous situation where physical violence was eminent or occurring, they had the ability to communicate instantly with each other from anywhere in the building,
including stairwells and hallways.

With Vocera, hospital security is able to speak directly to staff throughout the facility. If needed, staff can activate a silent alarm broadcast channel by double-tapping the Badge, allowing security personnel to listen to a situation in real-time. Security officers can then use the Vocera System software to locate the person who sounded the alarm and respond
to the scene quickly. The security response team can also issue a voice command to the Vocera System (i.e., “Locate Nurse Tige”), and the system will provide a general location for the initiated silent alarm based on the radius of the nearest wireless access point (i.e., “Nurse Tige is near the 4th Floor West Nursing Station”).

Silent alarms also allow security personnel to check on staff in a fast and efficient way. Employees feel reassured that security personnel is always available within seconds.

The days of running to a phone and routing a call to security through a call center are over due to the implementation of Vocera. The new wireless communication system eliminates the need for bulky walkie talkies and virtually eliminates overhead paging. Rather than security having to disperse over an entire building, they can immediately be connected to
staff. As a result, the Vocera Badge has significantly reduced response times for security.

The Badge is currently used by approximately 80 percent of TEGH staff and is considered part of staff’s daily operations—from the time they check-in to when their shift ends. Beyond its use among clinical staff, it has also enhanced communication within the facilities department, which uses Vocera as part of its TeleTracking® system to ensure hospital beds are changed and patients are discharged more efficiently

According to Denny Petkovski, Manager, Volunteer Services, the hospital found that by integrating TeleTracking with Vocera the hospital achieved a greater reduction in patient transfer times than when using the TeleTracking system alone.

“The Badge has been well-received by staff,” said Petkovski. “The staff finds it to be a significant enhancement to efficiency, and it contributes to making them feel safe.”

Unforeseen Benefits: Patient Experience

Vocera has enhanced more than just staff security. Since the system was introduced, it has streamlined communications, increased productivity, and improved patient care. For example, if a doctor visiting from another hospital did not have an office or phone available, a nurse would be able to contact the doctor immediately via the Vocera Badge.

Being able to communicate instantly at the touch of a button allows staff to speak to one another in emergency and routine situations. Staff can ask questions related to a patient’s care and get an immediate answer rather than having to wait until a doctor is out of surgery or a nurse is finished with a patient. 

Looking Forward

Devitt believes Vocera will continue to innovate the hospital’s functionality.

“This has been a fascinating process of discovery,” he says. “What started as purely a safety initiative has become much larger, and we’re still learning how to take further advantage of the technology. I’m sure in a year’s time and in two year’s time we’ll have an even better story to tell, as we really change how we do our work given this sort of communication tool.”

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