Focus on Patient-Centered Care and Communication Improves Staff Efficiency, Patient Experience with Vocera Communications System
Like hospital systems across the country, Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) was facing lengthy admitting times, communication delays and breakdowns at two of their outdated healthcare facilities. These challenges were among the factors which prompted MSHA to build a new community hospital to focus on patient safety, patient-centeredness and communication. Their solution was to build Franklin Woods Community Hospital to replace North Side Hospital and Johnson City Specialty Hospital with a tremendous emphasis on providing patient-centered care within a healing environment.
In planning for the new facility, the Vocera® Communications System was selected to assist staff in meeting MSHA’s patient centered care goals. The Vocera system features the small, wearable, Vocera Communication Badge which leverages the Vocera System Software intelligent calling capabilities to help staff reach each other with the touch of a button and simple voice commands. The goals were straightforward. By deploying the Vocera system, hospital leadership sought to improve patient safety, efficiency and overall patient and staff experience.
Some staff within MSHA were already familiar with Vocera. The Johnson City Medical Center first implemented Vocera in several units in 2008 and expanded its use to the Emergency Department in 2009. Prior to that expansion, a study was conducted to assess the average time it took to complete a call between ED nurses and other departments within the hospital. The study showed the average time to complete this internal communication was seven minutes and 11 seconds. After implementing the Vocera System, the average call time dropped to 40 seconds—a reduction of more than 90 percent.
Leadership at Franklin Woods Community Hospital sought to build on Johnson City Medical Center’s success, in part by having all staff use Vocera for a phase of testing. Prior to opening Franklin Woods, the implementation team piloted the Vocera System among staff, using “day in the life” scenarios. Each department practiced their routine activities using the Vocera System—mastering the verbal commands needed to use the Vocera Badge—and ensuring that all staff profiles were correct in the Vocera System Software database.
Since the hospital’s opening on July 12, 2010, the Vocera System has connected more than 1.2 million calls.
The impact that the new communication system has provided on patient safety and response times is significant. The system has allowed staff to decrease the average time it takes to place and respond to a call outside the department from more than seven minutes to less than one minute, yielding over six minutes per call that staff can instead apply to patient care. Caregivers can call for help, request needed supplies or information, or talk with a patient’s physician without leaving the patient’s side, thus improving staff efficiency.
“Clearly the support systems within Franklin Woods are providing efficient transfer of information and knowledge, keeping the patient at the center of all that we do,” said Joyce A. Treadway, I.S. Business Systems Analyst III.
Additionally, Franklin Woods’ West-Call nurse call system integrates with the Vocera system. When a patient pushes the West-Call nurse call button, it goes directly to the nurse’s Vocera Badge, permitting immediate communication between patient and nurse, thus directly supporting the implementation goals of increasing patient safety, staff efficiency and patient centered care. For example, in January 2011, Emergency Department staff received 550 calls using nurse-call/Vocera integration, with an average response time of one minute seven seconds. This was during flu season with an active “be seen in 15 minutes” patient campaign underway.
“We saw a significant reduction in the amount of ambient, internal noise, as overhead pages are used only for emergencies,” said Rhonda Mann, CNO and Assistant Administrator of Franklin Woods Community Hospital. “In fact, the staff is so focused on decreasing internal noise that they now fax their shift assignments to ancillary areas to avoid ringing telephones,” permitting ancillary areas to directly contact the patient’s nurse.
FWCH conducted a staff communication-related survey six months after opening as an additional postimplementation measurement. One hundred thirty six staff participated in the survey; 99 respondents stated they are satisfied or very satisfied with using Vocera, and 102 staff agreed or strongly agreed that Vocera makes their job easier.
“The survey showed us that Vocera and its corresponding technologies allow everyone to work together as a team, creating a much better environment for the patient,” said Susanne Hickle-Walton, Corporate Clinical Informatics Manager. The thoughtful, planned deployment of the Vocera point-of-care technology has helped Mountain States Health Alliance achieve their original goals to build a community hospital that is focused on patient safety, patientcenteredness and efficient staff communication.