Unless you spend too much of your day “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” you know that the healthcare industry is in the midst of major, systematic changes. At its very core, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known simply as “Obamacare,” called for better patient care at lower costs. To meet these goals, hospitals are still looking to Healthcare IT software, tools and applications, as well as other enterprise-level, secure technologies to help them run like an efficient, modern businesses.
Critical Communication solutions fit these descriptions perfectly. While all types of organizations have used these tools for years to stay in touch with key stakeholders during disruptive events (think outages, IT breaches, severe weather, etc.), hospitals are now embracing them for a variety of uses. One example is New Jersey-based, The Valley Hospital (part of Valley Health System). After deploying Everbridge’s Unified Critical Communications Suite, the hospital was quickly able to bridge the communication gap between patients and hospital staff. The automated technology eliminates the need for manual intervention allowing the hospital to reallocate resources–improving efficiency, patient care, and saving costs.
Maureen DiTore, telecom director at The Valley Hospital, worked with Everbridge to provide a healthcare communications best practices guide for other hospitals to use to simplify the critical communication process and enable them to successfully navigate emergency and other high-stress situations with minimal missteps. Some of the best practices that Maureen describes in the guide include:
Staffing – Automate the Time-Consuming, Arduous Process
In emergency situations, hospitals need a certain number of staff onsite to handle the heightened level of demand. It’s also imperative that doctors and nurses are informed about where they need to be in order to avoid confusion and deliver patient care.
Traditionally, hospital staffing has been manual and time consuming, relying heavily on administrators picking up the phone and tracking people down. In the case of an emergency, potential shift gaps or on-call changes could severely compromise patient care.
For Valley, using Everbridge enables them to to eliminate these issues. Hospital staff can use the system to automate messages to predetermined on-call staff without having to go through the manual process of determining this information. The notifications are delivered based on credentials or on-call groups. Notifications that used to take hours of looking through schedule books and phone trees, are now completed in less than five minutes.
Templates – Plan Ahead
According to DiTore, planning ahead is the key for a successful mass notification system—and that is why proactive creation of templates is essential. Hospitals need to think in advance about who they will need to reach, what they will say, and the type of responses they desire. The messages can be based on the nature of what’s going on, who will be impacted, and what buildings/towns are affected. Having templates drafted in advance– a function of Everbridge– helps to avoid confusion during an emergency. Don’t forget, during an emergency, a recipients’ reading comprehension level drops to a 6th grade level.
Tracking and Reporting – Essential for Continuous Improvements
With its Unified Critical Communication system, Valley tracks who receives notifications, who responds (did they hang up?), who acknowledges the news, and more. The hospital takes what it learns to continuously improve its communications methods so staff and patients can be reached in the best manner for them—regardless of location or device.
Don’t stop here, take a moment to learn more about how Valley is a true critical communications innovator and prototype for other hospitals to follow. Check out the full white paper: Staffing and Coordinating for Hospitals: Best Practices from the Valley Hospital.