The integration of smartphones in the Nash Health Care emergency department has elevated collaboration, improved patient turnaround time and led to an award for a positive nurse practice environment, according to nurses involved with the project.
CareAware Connect, which aligns specially designed smartphones with bedside care at the facility in Rocky Mount, N.C., has earned rave reviews since it was launched in March 2014, said Victoria P. Brock, BSN, RN, EMT, coordinator of nursing and clinical informatics, Nash Health Care.
“We were one of the first hospitals in the country to use smartphone technology integrated in with the EMR,” said Brock, who was instrumental in bringing the technology to Nash Health Care.
“What makes it unique is it allows everyone to share information in real time, information that is important to them.”
The phones are used by all disciplines in the ED, including nursing, respiratory therapy, laboratory, ED physicians and radiology. About 200 caregivers can log in with their credentials on a secure server and communicate with other care team members assigned to a particular patient.
The phones can transfer electronic health records as well as text, make calls and receive critical alerts. The iPhones protect confidential data and will not work outside the hospital campus. To address security concerns, CareAware Connect provided encrypted text and voice functionality and managed applications.
“You can have your own call system and we have alerts for electronic medical records. So what it’s really about is finding what is important to the nurses and pushing that to the phone,” Brock said. “That really is the key to the implementation because if it’s not important to them they will just put the phone down.”
Enhancing communication among the caregivers benefits patients, said Kelly Sanders, BSN, RN, CPN.
Before CareAware Connect, when a patient was admitted to the hospital from the ED, many calls would be exchanged between the ED, bed control and floor nurses. The smartphone-based care team communications solution has reduced the time it takes to move admitted patients to the appropriate inpatient setting.
An alert is now sent to the bed control nurses to let them know the patient is waiting for admission, which has cut wait time by 27 minutes, Sanders said.
Faster bed assignment might improve care quality and increase the potential for more patients to be treated, Sanders said.
Combining technology with nursing excellence
The technology allows information to go directly to the phone of an appropriate recipient, which benefits a busy staff. For example, if a patient requests pain medication, that request can be routed directly to the nurse. Or if he or she requests water or to go to the bathroom, it can go directly to the nursing assistant.
“So the right call gets to the right person without us having a free-for-all where everybody is assigned and nobody is assigned,” Brock said. “At least this way we have a way of assigning responsibility based off the patient’s request.”
Information users can see on the phone includes a patient’s chart, allergies, orders for the patient, the room number, care team information as well as the names of family members and their phone numbers.
The project was implemented in conjunction with the opening of the new ED, which is much larger than the previous one. Nurses credit the CareAware Connect technology for helping to streamline communication.
The innovative mobile technology has attracted national attention and recognition. At the American Nursing Informatics Association’s April conference, Brock and Sanders, will lead the “Communication and Collaboration in the 21st Century Emergency Department” session, which will explore how their facility utilizes smartphone technology to facilitate efficient communication and other issues affecting the delivery of quality care.
Nash Health Care was the recipient of the prestigious American Nursing Credentialing Center Pathway Award for 2014. The facility earned the award for using innovation and technology to create a positive nurse practice environment. The award included $10,000 to help support Nash’s efforts with the technology.
The $10,000 expanded the program to the rehabilitation unit in January. “We used it to buy additional phones to put them in the hands of more caregivers,” Brock said. “By the end of next year, [it] will be hospitalwide.”