VERG Brooklyn Enhances Patient Care, Improves Staff and Client Communication

On the sidewalk outside the Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group (VERG) hospital, a client’s dog was having a seizure. The client called the office asking for urgent help. Elizabeth Wince, VERG’s client services supervisor, stepped outside and saw the client with the dog a few doors down.

Wince used her Vocera® Badge, a wearable, voice-activated communication device, to send a broadcast stat triage to all staff for help. Staff arrived quickly and began providing emergency care and assessing the dog’s condition. Fortunately, the dog made a full recovery thanks to expert care from the VERG team.

“If I hadn’t been wearing my Badge,” said Wince, “I would have had to run back to the hospital, find a phone, and call for help. It would have caused a delay in the immediate attention that was needed in a time-sensitive emergency.”

Creating an Ideal Environment for Patients, Clients, and Staff

VERG was formed in 2005 to provide emergency services and specialty medicine exclusively to the Brooklyn community. Several years ago, VERG moved to a larger and better equipped facility that’s optimized for an improved client experience and better patient care.

“At our last facility, we used overhead paging and phone calls for much of our staff communication. We even used a paper message system, and messages often got lost,” said Michele Tinsley, Hospital Manager and Veterinary Nursing Administrator at VERG. “Our communication methods were disruptive to staff and, at times, unsettling for clients who were already anxious about their pet’s condition. Having a disparate communication system was often distracting and inefficient. Doctors would be in rooms and couldn’t answer pages; front desk staff struggled to connect with the right people when they needed them.”

Designing a More Efficient Communication System

As leadership at VERG were planning the new facility, they decided to omit an overhead paging system altogether and began searching for a communication solution that would improve staff efficiency, patient care, and client satisfaction.

“We knew we wanted to create a quiet hospital where staff wouldn’t be interrupted constantly by phone calls, overhead pages, and searching for other members of the care team,” explained Tinsley. VERG leadership considered a few clinical communication solutions before deciding that the Vocera Platform was the best solution for their facility. “Everything changed once we introduced Vocera technology – productivity has grown tremendously, and workflows are much more efficient.”

The Vocera Platform allows VERG to provide a tranquil and peaceful environment for staff, patients, and clients. Hospital receptionists use the Vocera Badge with a headset to minimize noise and ensure that clients don’t overhear staff conversations. “Our entire facility is extremely quiet and calm – from critical care, to euthanasia, to our waiting area,” Tinsley said. “We love how Vocera technology helps us create a tranquil environment for our clients and patients.”

Increasing Staff Productivity Through Seamless Communication

VERG’s spacious facility sprawls two floors and without a communication tool like the Vocera Platform, efficient communication would be a challenge for staff. “Our facility is large and because I’m not running around looking for people, I can spend time providing the best patient care,” explained Tinsley. “Vocera technology has definitely decreased the number of steps taken per shift by our team members.”

Many of the surgery suites and treatment areas at VERG are on the second floor, while the waiting areas are on the first floor. Vocera technology allows care teams to have a constant line of communication, without having to trek up and down stairs or step away from patients. “I work on the second floor of a two-story hospital and often have patients that can’t be left unattended,” said Michelle Urrutia, Emergency and Internal Medicine Technician at VERG. “Because I wear a Vocera Badge, I can stay with my patient and use my Badge to ask a colleague near the waiting area to give our client a face-to-face update on their pet.”

VERG staff can simply press a button on their Vocera Badge and say the name of a person, role, or group to quickly connect with the right people. “The ability to set up and communicate with specific groups is terrific,” said Tinsley. “We can pull the right people into a specific room quickly, with a simple voice command.”

Connecting Team Members to Provide the Best Patient Care

In a hands-on patient care environment like a veterinary hospital, communicating on-the-go is essential. “Vocera technology allows our doctors and nurses to communicate while mobile in our treatment areas, rather than on a phone call at a desk,” said Wince. “Because the Badge is hands-free, we can be completely hands-on with our patients while staying connected to our colleagues.”

Doctors at VERG regularly need to be on the move. For example, a doctor may have to leave a patient in the exam room to assist with a critical patient in surgery. “It can be a challenge to locate doctors in a veterinary setting if you don’t have the right communication solution,” explained Urrutia. “Without a doctor’s input, patient treatments could be delayed, or incorrect assumptions could be made about a patient’s treatment plan. With Vocera technology I know I can connect with the right doctor in an instant and that my patient’s treatment won’t be delayed.”

The constant line of communication between doctors, technicians, and assistants helps VERG staff reach the people and information they need, when they need to. “If I’m working in isolation, I can easily reach out to a doctor to ask a question, or ask an assistant to bring supplies, without leaving the room,” said Urrutia. “I don’t have to compromise a patient’s safety by making frequent trips in and out of an infectious ward. I can communicate using my Vocera Badge under PPE, which saves time and resources because I’m not constantly changing in and out of my personal protective gear.”

Expediting Critical Patients

The Vocera Platform makes it easy for care team members at VERG to communicate critical patient information and summon assistance in an emergency. When critical patients enter VERG, the care team is ready to treat them right away. The receptionist can use his or her Badge to broadcast a notification to the intensive care unit (ICU) team by simply saying, “call ICU team.” All members of the ICU team are then notified of the incoming patient and obtain case details from the receptionist, so they can prepare the patient’s room and be equipped with the appropriate supplies.

“The broadcast function is extremely useful,” explained Urrutia. “Within seconds of a critical patient entering the hospital, the right care team members can be made aware of the patient’s status and start preparing for treatment accordingly. Any allergies, medications, or other important patient history can be shared with us right away so we can expedite patient treatment.”

The receptionist can also assess patients and provide additional details to the response team. For example, if a patient appears to be nervous or reactive, the receptionist can communicate that information to the appropriate care team using their Badge. The care team can be ready with the necessary equipment at triage.

Safeguarding Staff

In addition to helping VERG provide the best patient care and experience for clients, Vocera technology helps keep staff safe. “My Vocera Badge has helped me discretely call attention to management without alarming our staff or clients on more than one occasion,” said Tinsley. “We use a specific code if we have a situation that a manager or security needs to tend to, so that we can control things quickly.”

An urgent broadcast made from the Badge can be used to call for help and ensure staff never feel unsafe or uncomfortable in the situation they are in. “The Vocera Badge gives us an option to urgently broadcast to alert staff of any safety issues by simply double tapping the device,” explained Wince. “It definitely helps improve staff safety here at VERG.”

Resource Type: Case Studies
Industry Solution:
Products: Vocera Platform 
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