Often when I am demonstrating our MH-CURE product to a hospital, I’ll start by stating “Hospital, hospitality. Two buildings with rooms and beds, but what is the difference?” I say this because one of our competitors has a voice communications device that can be pinned to a lapel and was designed for use by hotels as well as hospitals. The difference between these two environments is obvious, but it really comes down to acuity — the level of alertness that is required for the person who is vulnerable and lying in the bed in a room. That acuity level can be the differentiator when your hospital is looking for a clinical communication platform versus a generic one created for multiple industry use.
In hospitality as well as other industries, the need to communicate can be described as generic. There is no “patient” data, or data with any specificity for that matter. As a result, there is no encryption problem or concern with maintaining data security. There is no assigned “care team” because, after all, a hotel room does not have a call light with a button the occupant can push and have somebody come to check the batteries on the telemetry alarm (for example).
There are products we compete with in the healthcare market that target both hospitals and hospitality, but when talking to hospitals, I differentiate us by explaining that we developed our MH-CURE platform for acuity and we don’t sell our products to hotels because they have no acuity. There is no patient, nor need that is clinical (which literally means “care at the sickbed.”) Our focus is on hospitals and providing visuals. Sure, you can use just your voice to communicate. Voice is generic and can be used anywhere. Everybody has a phone. But, it’s a different situation when you have a care team of people and they are in the process of working with a patient who is acute.
A patient requiring short-term acute care versus long-term acute care typically comes to the hospital via the emergency department and gets admitted into a bed. If they’re in a telemetry unit, they are considered acute. They need close attention — not by just one person, but by a team, a team that has other patients as well. When hospitals have a patient who needs close attention from a handful of people who are changing shifts every 12 hours, chaos can ensue. A visual is needed that our app provides, one which you don’t get through a telephone or a voice device. Using just voice is limiting when it comes to care team communication. For that reason, it’s actually used very little. Our competitor’s voice device may be able to indicate where you are based on the closest access point, but it can’t tell you who the on-call respiratory therapist is.
A patient’s care team may typically consist of a resident, an RN, a CNA or nurse assistant, and a case manager who manages the insurance and procedures, plus there may also be an MD or primary care and, for this example, a respiratory therapist. Those roles involve people whose status will change at the end of the shift. For example, Doctor Amy Clark may be the currently-assigned attending MD, but in 12 hours, Doctor Amy Clark won’t be there. The patient will still need an MD even if it’s a new MD, after all, doctors are not super-human and able to work 24/7. That means that at the end of every 12 hour shift, the hospital’s ability to track a patient’s care team could start to break without a solution allowing people to connect and communicate to whomever is in a specific role at any time.
If you only had a voice device to tap or a land line to pick up to find a respiratory therapist, it would be like moving blindfolded. Since you don’t know who’s available, the system would be hunting through a directory of respiratory therapists to find somebody who’s available. In our app, you get a visual of the care team members for each patient. You can look at each individual patient and see every care team member for that patient. You don’t just see where that care team member is and when they are available, you see their current status. If they’re green, they’re active. If they’re red, they’re busy with patients or on the phone.
Having that visual impacts a clinicians’ behavior in terms of how they’re going to reach out to one another. If I’m Dr. Amy Clark and I want to reach Dr. Laurie McCoy to talk about a patient, I can see if she is busy on the phone. Then my natural behavior would be to text because she’s already in a conversation. I could also page her. I would be able to see in the visual in our app that I have access to multiple ways of communicating — the four core modalities — which are text, talk, page and video chat. Plus, I can communicate with clinical context. If I tap to send a text message to someone on the patient care team, the message automatically inserts the name, room and bed of the patient I want to talk about.
When we look at usage — how people communicate and use our product — we’ll see (on average) 86 text messages per login versus 29 calls. There’s a substantial increase in asynchronous communication — messages being sent and read at different times. That’s the flexibility of texting, whereas phone calling is synchronous — the receiver must be available to take the call to get the message. If I’m receiving a phone call and I see it’s from an outside line, I don’t know what that call’s about and I might decline it. If I’m busy, I’m definitely declining that call. It’s a similar situation with email — you have a volume of incoming messages that you can’t control, many from unknown senders.
What’s cool about our app and the asynchronous form of communication you get with texting is that only authorized, clinical users are speaking with you. Unlike email, no one can spam you. Unlike voice, no one declines your call. Messages are straight and to the point – readily digestible nouns and verbs. Text does not replace voice. When high interaction is needed, text enables voice. “Free to chat?” “Yes, call you in 5.” Text ensures that your call will be answered.
So, you can see why any communications product that is used in a clinical environment can’t be voice-only. It can’t be generic and not enable you to locate others who are also involved in a patient’s care. It must be a communications platform that is patient-centric and designed for use by clinicians, providing visuals and access to all the core communications modalities to ensure optimal patient care.