An Eye for an Aye, or “Keep an Eye Out for Clinical Communications!”

It’s been a little while since I sat down and wrote a blog for Mobile Heartbeat. It took a recent hospital visit (as a patient, unfortunately) to remind me why I do this job (and truly enjoy it, boss, really) and how sometimes blog ideas and stories just come from personal experiences.

I was on a Sunday morning drive, and for no reason whatsoever, I suddenly and unexplainably lost clear vision in my left eye. Long story short (for the sake of a blog), I unknowingly had a partially detaching retina that persistently insisted I get to my favorite local ER (which I have been to enough times due to self-inflicted, sports-related injuries that I really should get a wing named after me). After anxiously and nervously sitting in an exam room listening to countless intercom announcements about every other patient besides me, I was reminded that Florence Nightingale wrote in her 1859 book, Notes on Nursing, “Unnecessary noise is the most cruel abuse of care which can be inflicted on either the sick or the well.” That immediately made perfect sense to me, as did the value of the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) patient perspective about “quietness of the hospital environment” (http://www.hcahpsonline.org/home.aspx). Directed messaging to available care givers, as opposed to loudspeaker broadcast messaging to everyone, seems to be a solution that calms patients AND caregivers alike, yet few hospitals seem to have embraced technologies (like Mobile Heartbeat’s MH-CURE) to reduce noise (at least so far), and that’s just cruel (thanks Florence, your point is well taken).

When the on-call Ophthalmologist arrived, he spent a significant amount of time deeply peering into my eye (not even close to romantically), and used his personal cell phone to text a retina surgeon and request an appointment for me for Monday morning. No, it was not a healthcare-specific secure texting product he was using, because I asked. That’s what I do, even when looking over his shoulder with one good eye. But, I WAS assured none of my PHI was sent along in his request for the appointment. Again, I was reminded of the gap between “need” and “access” to technology – exactly the gap we at Mobile Heartbeat fulfill for acute healthcare facilities, in order to solve their HIPAA-compliant Clinical Communications & Collaboration needs effectively and efficiently.

Surgery went well (thanks for asking), as I traded my eye for a 24-hour eye PATCH that made me look not unlike a battle-worn pirate (so my co-workers joked. I promise not to share any of the memes they took exhaustive personal time and commitment to create and mock me with). Now back in full swing, I look forward to sailing the seas of technology change in healthcare!

Aye Eye!

Workflow: Pharmacy, Facilities & Dietary

Over the next few months, we will be posting a series of articles we call the “Workflow Series” that will highlight how deploying a Clinical Communication & Collaboration (CC&C) system can benefit your hospital. To start off the series, we will discuss how CC&C can impact the hospital staff that are neither doctors nor nurses. This may seem a bit unusual, but our deployments to date have shown substantial benefits to these users, so we would like to highlight them as we lead off the series.

Pharmacy
When one of our client hospitals decided to add the pharmacy to their CC&C project, those users were ecstatic. I haven’t seen such euphoria since the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, so it warranted some investigation. The result: it all came down to Q&A.

A top-level pharmacist is thorough and leaves nothing to chance. Each pharmacy order is scrutinized carefully and will often generate some questions prior to fulfillment. To get those questions answered, the pharmacist will need to reach out to the patient’s active care team. Without a CC&C system in place, the pharmacist must:

  • Identify the care team
  • Track them down
  • Ask the pertinent question and get an answer
  • Repeat as needed

Without a smartphone-based CC&C system, this can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. More importantly, CC&C can provide an audit trail and written confirmation of any Q&A between the pharmacy and the care team – critical items for reducing pharmacy errors.

Facilities
When one of our hospitals deployed smartphones using our MH-CURE software to their facilities staff, we were shocked. But, then we learned how a CC&C solution applied to the facilities staff fit into their “Lean Hospital” initiative.

Lean is always about reducing wasted time and processes. In the case above, the facilities staff is responsible for the cleaning and preparing of rooms and beds after a patient has been discharged. The CC&C solution is now used to tell facilities which rooms are now empty and need to be cleaned. Once finished, they then use CC&C to notify admissions that a bed is ready for a new patient. This round-trip messaging has sped up the bed assignment process, which means lower cost and more patient revenue.

Dietary
To me, the most surprising use of CC&C was when a facility deployed smartphones with our MH-CURE software to their kitchen staff. But, their usage made perfect sense – improve patient satisfaction!

Getting the right meal to the right patient is not always obvious to either the dietary team nor to the care team on the med/surge floor. Being patient-based, CC&C can instantly connect the clinician to the dietary staff, insuring that any questions get answered quickly and even enabling “real time” food options to patients if they are unhappy with a meal. The CC&C system is now part of a high quality patient experience as this hospital strives to be best in class.

Summary
Over the next few articles, we will be discussing how CC&C can impact the different clinical and functional areas in your hospital. But, don’t forget about the folks above!