Healthcare providers focused on value-based care are implementing mobile solutions to drive enterprise-wide collaboration and communication for better outcomes and more efficient workflows.
On April 11, Bill Foster, director of business development, healthcare, for Spectralink; Paul Hubbard, director of nursing for neurosciences and behavioral health with Anderson, S.C.-based AnMed Health; and Kourtney Govro, founder and CEO of Sphere3, participated in a webinar sponsored by Spectralink and hosted by Becker\’s Hospital Review. During the discussion, the experts covered the biggest trends in clinical mobile health solutions and described how to unify communications as well as workflow integration for successful programs.
There are several key components to a mobile solution in healthcare. Clinicians need mobile solutions that work across clinical sites in the network. Solutions need to share files and images among the patient\’s clinical team and include smart alerts and alarms that integrate across the system.
“You need to be able to send, critically, the right alarm to the right person at the right time and be able to address critical needs such as national patient safety goals for reducing alarms,” said Mr. Foster. The devices must also integrate with the organization\’s EMR and have easy access to medical reference apps. While hospitals and health systems across the country have mobile communication capabilities, sophisticated and coordinated efforts are needed to optimize technology and potential.
Opportunity for improvement
According to a Spok poll, about half of healthcare organizations aim to improve physician-to-physician and nurse-to-physician communications; however, just 19 percent and 18 percent of the organizations, respectively, include these stated goals as part of their mobile strategy. Many healthcare settings still have disjointed messaging and texting communications today which lead to inefficient workflows and other challenges for healthcare providers.
“If information is the lifeblood of healthcare, then communication is the heart that pumps it,” said Mr. Foster, adding that well-designed communication solutions take these factors into consideration.
Healthcare organizations also recognize the need to improve nurse-to-nurse communications as well as communications with the code team, rapid response team and within the health system\’s physician network, according to the Spok poll.
“We also see healthcare CIOs and clinical leadership begin to deploy mobile communication platforms as a part of an effort … to better coordinate care, improve outcomes and help reduce readmission rates, which as we know can be really costly to the hospital,” said Mr. Foster. To achieve these goals, clinical mobility solutions should include the following capabilities:
• Unified cross-platform tools that are device agnostic
• Enterprise-wide directions and integrated on-call database
• Actionable, event-driven communications
• Analytics and reporting tools to drive improvement
• Privacy and security policies with administrative safeguards for HIPAA compliance
“The beauty of implementing an integrated mobility solution is the value proposition of a well-designed and well-executed communication solution,” Mr. Foster said. “Clinicians see the benefit of collaborating with the entire care team and how it can positively influence patient safety and the patient experience along with care team productivity and patient satisfaction.”
Key considerations for implementation
Four years ago, AnMed Health embarked on the journey to implement an enterprise-wide mobile health solution. With around 461 acute-care beds and services including emergency and trauma medicine; open heart surgery; stroke care; and imaging and laboratory care, the health system was challenged to implement a mobile solution that would be compatible with future growth and development.
“When we started looking at mobile devices, we wanted to make sure our end users were on board with what we were going to purchase,” Mr. Hubbard said. “We brought several devices in and allowed staff to handle the devices and play with the devices and set them up so they can understand and see how they would work.”
AnMed sought thin, light-weight devices with a single log in for day-to-day healthcare apps to streamline staff workflow. When team members sign in, they can access the secure text messaging platform and receive messages and alarms without signing into multiple applications. Battery life needed to exceed 12 hours to cover the shift, and the design needed to fit within existing workflows.
AnMed implemented a solution including all ease-of-use factors, which allow staff to see assignments at a glance, identify who is stationed across the hospital and connect with that individual directly.
“The more you affect the workflow, the less the adoption will take place,” Mr. Hubbard said. “Nurses, staff and all ancillary personnel have a workflow that works for them. So if we go in and try to change the workflow, they are less likely to adopt that.”
The clinical and IT teams had open communication from the onset. AnMed Health\’s executive team collaborated with departments across the health system as well as top executives to identify the devices, middleware and software for implementation. With executive buy-in, staff were brought onboard to decide which devices to use and move forward with integration.
“I want to encourage any of you looking at a clinical collaboration project to purchase a smart device, take a minute and ask yourself and your team what defines their success. Each stakeholder will value different things,” Ms. Govro said.
Achieving measurable success
Healthcare organizations can track certain metrics to measure the effect of the mobile solution on patient outcomes, clinical quality and safety as well as employee satisfaction. They can then enable a point-of-care, real-time data analysis to gain the full value of the investment.
“Hospitals across the nation are going through a transformation where information is being given to caregivers in real time, but we are stuck in the dark ages when it comes to measurement as we use paper,” Ms. Govro said. “Now some technologies move into cloud-based applications, but you still have a two- to three-hour delay.”
Getting real-time information in the hands of appropriate caregivers is key for organizations to begin taking steps to promote transformational change. Ms. Govro recommended healthcare providers consider four distinct questions to build a strong foundation for a mobile solution program:
1. Does it serve the organization well and create the right process changes?
2. Was everyone trained appropriately?
3. How can you empower caregivers to make a real-time decision with real-time data?
4. Do hardwired behaviors reflect the behaviors you want to see in your care team?
“I see this as really looking at the patient experience,” Ms. Govro said. “Real-time data is critical for patient experience gain. Patients are individuals in nature, they want to be served as an individual. When I look at how these devices and technologies play into the patient experience, you\’re enabling the quality in the patient experience directly in their phone.”