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Hospital embraces smartphones to improve clinical communication

This article was published by Onslow Memorial Hospital.

PatientSafe, a new mobile communication technology platform, has helped the clinical teams at Onslow Memorial Hospital communicate more quickly, efficiently and quietly. The new phones replace older technology such as land lines, portable phones, and mobile pagers.

JACKSONVILLE — If you have a family member at Onslow Memorial Hospital (OMH) who needs a doctor to come to their bedside or respond to an urgent medication request, how long does it take a nurse to contact that clinician? The answer: the few seconds it takes to send a text message across a high-powered, secure, HIPAA-compliant platform.

In the past, a nurse would have to page a clinician and wait for him/her to call back, without the clinician knowing who the patient was or what the specific need was. Nurses would be continually paging doctors, or paging a group of respiratory therapists or physical therapists who might not even be on the patient’s care team. Physicians who were attending to their patients would have their pagers going off, interrupting the flow of care.

All that is in the past.

As of April, OMH has ‘gone live’ with PatientSafe, a leader in clinical mobility solutions for healthcare, including the PatientTouch® clinical workflow and care team communications applications.

“We looked at three companies,” states Autumn Foy, the hospital’s Director of Clinical Informatics, “and we chose PatientSafe because they are integrated with Meditech, our medical records provider. That ensured us a smooth transition of workflows, which makes for optimal patient safety.

“A nurse can click on a patient’s name on their PatientSafe device and immediately know exactly who is assigned to the patient and contact that person directly in real time. For example, a nurse can contact a patient’s doctor by direct messaging him or her if a patient needs a medication, and the doctor can quickly log onto the patient’s medical record and place the medication order in real time,” Foy explains.

Sound simple and effective? It is. Moreover, it’s patient-focused. “The new platform by PatientSafe Solutions significantly improves clinical collaboration and documentation–and that helps us improve patient care, safety and outcomes.

“In all, there are four phases we will roll out,” Foy adds.

Phase I, just completed, consisted of replacing the hospital’s outdated communications phones and existing computer carts with Apple® iPhone® smartphones enabled with secure, HIPAA-compliant text messaging, voice communications, and alert management, with specific user interfaces for nurses, physicians and ancillary care team members.

By the end of 2016, the hospital will move through integrating Phases II, III and IV: including mobile barcode medication administration, specimen collection, infant care and blood administration modules.

Foy credits a team of dedicated professionals at OMH for seeing the project through over an entire year of planning and implementation.

“We first spoke with PatientSafe at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference in April 2015. Then in June we took an entire team to a hospital in Colorado to observe firsthand how the system integrated with Meditech. So it’s been a lengthy, but important, process.

“We have a fantastic IT Management team in Tim Chadwick and Angie Mallard,” Foy enthuses. “Together with their teams, they were able to help the hospital complete Phase I with all the technical elements securely in place.”

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