“Smart Phones” and your Cisco PBX

So you have deployed a Cisco PBX successfully throughout your hospital and are now beginning to reap some real benefits of the Cisco Unified Communications Manager.  Now your clinical staff wants to deploy smartphones – both BYOD and shared devices supplied by the hospital.

How are you going to ensure that phone calling is of the highest quality? These devices are “smart phones” and a clinician has to be able to make a reliable phone call, even while moving throughout the hospital. Using the cellular network for calls may not work everywhere in your facility so VoIP (Voice over IP) is a must have.

In an earlier post, we touched on the smartphone hardware requirements to ensure a quality VoIP connection (namely support for 802.11k and 802.11r protocols) and in this post we will focus on the smartphone software and how it interacts with your Cisco Unified Communication Manager (CUCM).

Many hospitals have deployed CUCM as their state-of-the-art PBX. Not only does CUCM provide a hospital with outstanding telephony, it also includes future-proof technology to support all different types of messaging – including photos and videos.

On the software side, here are two methods of connecting your smartphones to your CUCM: direct connection or indirect via a voice gateway. Initial software products for clinical communications required the use of a voice gateway. Although effective, this method required additional servers and software in order to implement. Many hospital IT departments balked at the additional administration and overhead required to use this gateway approach. The latest advances in smartphone application software, however, allow the phones to connect directly and seamlessly to the CUCM. This method enables your IT staff to manage all of the phone lines, including the smartphones, via the CUCM. The call quality, ease-of deployment and consistent administration have been big wins for hospitals that use this direct connection approach.

Our advice: in your Cisco environment, make sure that you can truly deploy “smart phones” by investigating both your hardware and clinical communications software before you buy. Your end-user clinicians are expecting success.

Smartphones: The mHealth device, app platform and communication tool everyone needs

Every now and then, someone–typically in the frenzy of actually advancing mHealth–says exactly the perfect phrase to define a mobile health strategy in the most concise and clear way.

This week, that honor goes to Edward Fisher, CTO at Yale-New Haven Hospital. The hospital is getting ready to kick off the MH-CURE smartphone-based app communications system that will completely change interaction between caregivers and the relationship between patients and doctors.

Mobile Heartbeat to Sponsor and Exhibit at Nursing Informatics Bootcamp

Mobile Heartbeat, a leading provider of smartphone applications for improving clinical workflow and team communications, today announced it will be sponsoring and exhibiting at the Nursing Informatics Bootcamp taking place February 27- 28, 2015 at the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California.

New app to improve physician communication

Doctors and nurses at Yale-New Haven Hospital will soon be able to stay abreast of their patients’ treatment wherever they are, thanks to a smartphone app that is quietly transforming patient care.

Physicians Say BYOD Support Must Be Part of Your Clinical Communications Solution

A recent article published by mHealthNews underscored something that we at Mobile Heartbeat strongly believe: support for physicians who use personal mobile devices (aka ‘bring your own device’ or BYOD) is crucial to the success of any clinical communications solution. According to the article, and in our experience, physicians expect to be able to use their own devices for clinical communications. If BYOD support is not considered in the selection process, you could be at risk of choosing a solution that physicians will not adopt.

We built BYOD support into Mobile Heartbeat Clinical Urgent Response (MH-CURE) and our customers remind us of the importance of this feature on a daily basis. For anyone evaluating clinical communications solutions such as MH-CURE, there are several striking statistics in the article, “Docs slam bosses for failing to support mHealth,” that are worth pointing out.

The article references a study published in January 2015 by Spyglass Consulting Group. Spyglass Consulting is a market intelligence firm and consultancy focused on the current and future potential of mobile computing and wireless technologies within the healthcare industry. Their study, “Point of Care Communications for Physicians 2014,” was derived from more than 100 in‐depth interviews with physicians working in hospital‐based and ambulatory environments nationwide. This press release (PDF) describes more about the study itself.

Here are some key findings I would like to highlight:

  • 96% of physicians interviewed are already using smartphones as their primary device to support clinical communications.
  • 70% physicians interviewed believe hospital IT organizations are making inadequate investments to address physician mobile requirements.
  • 83% of doctors say their EHR platforms don’t allow for easy clinical communications via mobile devices, even if they allow something like secure text messaging.

While all three findings are worth consideration, the last point should be of special concern to any hospital IT leaders who are hoping that tools built into their EHR will suffice for improving communication among physicians. Based on the article and study, physician satisfaction would be much higher if those leaders would consider implementing a complete clinical communications solution that provides the following key features on the physician’s mobile device:

  • Integration with the EHR to provide important clinical data;
  • Full care team communications via secure text messaging and secure voice communications; and
  • BYOD support.

Any comprehensive secure clinical communications solution, such as MH-CURE, would fulfill all of the requirements listed above and more.

The mHealthNews article includes a quote from Steven Davidson, former CMIO of Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY, which speaks directly to reliance on the EHR for clinical communications. When asked about the hope that the EHR will improve communications, he concluded that, “In reality, overwhelmed nurses and doctors struggle (to accomplish) necessary communication through the EHR, instead implementing workarounds on their own devices.”

Physicians are tops among a hospital’s most valuable assets. If you want to avoid physician dissatisfaction and eliminate the need for workarounds that may involve insecure communication of patient data via personal mobile devices, factor BYOD support into your search for the right clinical communications solution.

Enhanced Care Team Communications Ensures Patient Safety

Industry research has shown that optimizing communication among clinical staff leads to fewer patient safety issues. HealthGrades, a leading online resource for information and ratings on physicians and hospitals, has periodically issued reports citing the importance of having an easy flow of communication in healthcare settings. Kelsey Brimmer, a writer for Healthcare Finance, points out the key research findings in her article, “More Communication in Hospitals Leads to Better Patient Safety.”

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, 15 percent more overall patient safety events occurred in hospitals performing in the bottom 10 percent for physician communication, compared to those in the top 10 percent. Meanwhile, 27 percent more overall patient safety events occurred in hospitals performing in the bottom 10 percent for nursing communication, compared to the top 10 percent.

When there is an emergency situation with a critical care patient ─ for example, if the patient is having an allergic reaction to a drug or is just not thriving ─ the nurse attending the patient needs to be able to contact and reach the patient’s physician immediately to obtain assistance. Before the availability of clinical communications technology, this could actually be a challenge. A nurse had to page the doctor, either through the overhead paging system or the doctor’s personal pager, but the doctor could be in surgery, in a meeting or with another patient. They could have their pager on vibrate, so they’re not able to see the message and respond quickly or effectively. When the physicians did respond, it would sometimes be unclear what the instructions were and it would be difficult for the staff to reach them again to check and confirm.

Clearly, this was a situation where you could likely find a patient getting very ill, possibly dying, and that could lead to legal consequences for the hospital.

With a mobile clinical communications solution in place, clinical staff can convey directly via secure text messaging that there’s an allergic reaction occurring. The physician can respond quickly, even if they are in a meeting or with a patient, as text messaging can be done conveniently and discreetly. If a nurse needs to confirm an order, it can be done easily and immediately via a secure text message. The clinical staff can also know ahead of time that the patient has an allergy to a specific med, as they would be able to both document and track what medications and treatments a patient has received.

A mobile clinical communications solution would also enable lab results to be tracked and accessed immediately, so that clinicians no longer have to go to the lab itself, wait to download and receive lab results or go down to the nurses’ station to send the results to another clinician. With lab results in paper form, it’s easy for them to be lost or attached to the wrong patient’s records. Now, lab results can be retrieved conveniently on a smartphone as soon as they’re available, with critical labs results flagged and sent as a push notification to indicate they are of higher concern. Physicians can find out what is affecting their patients and decide on treatment quickly and safely.

Clinical communications technology also helps clinicians to track the patient themselves, to know who’s seeing them and whether they are in radiology or the lab. It also further protects patients by encrypting the PHI (protected health information) and preventing it from being viewed by unauthorized persons.

Incorporating technology at healthcare facilities has been a boon for patient care, but it’s important that it be used to enable those treating the patients to speed communication, ease data retrieval, and improve clinical workflow in order to maintain or enhance patient safety.

Without the ability to communicate quickly and effectively regarding patients, clinicians will see more patient safety incidents. With clinical communications capabilities such as those provided by Mobile Heartbeat, clinicians can see a decreased number of incidents and improved patient safety.

Mobile Heartbeat and Yale New Haven Health System Sign Enterprise Agreement

Mobile Heartbeat today announced an agreement with Yale New Haven Health System to rollout the Mobile Heartbeat CURE (Clinical Urgent REsponse) smartphone application to clinicians in all facilities in the provider’s network, which include Yale-New Haven Hospital, Bridgeport Hospital, Greenwich Hospital and the YNHHS Saint Raphael campus. Mobile Heartbeat has recently completed pilot implementations which helped YNHHS to realize significant results leading to improved patient satisfaction.