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How a Mobile Alert System Improves Nurse, Physician Workflow

By Vera Gruessner

- The mobile health industry has played a significant role in improving communications throughout hospitals and clinics, as more nurses and doctors continue using mobile devices and apps to better coordinate care. Additionally, the mHealth field has offered a mobile alert system that could warn physicians of a potential health issue among certain patients.

Clinical Mobile Communication Tool

For instance, Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado has adopted a clinical communication and mobile alert system in order to enhance provider workflow and the overall patient experience, according to a company press release.

“As a rehabilitation center specializing in spinal cord and traumatic brain injury, we are extremely focused on patient-centered care,” Andrea Elmquist, Applications Manager at Craig Hospital, said in the press release. “We understand the importance of providing our clinicians with the right technology so they can better focus on patient care. When PatientSafe presented an opportunity for our team to integrate our current alarm system securely within the PatientTouch application we knew this would decrease untimely interruptions for our clinicians and improve our patients’ experience.”

To hear more about the mobile alert system adopted by Craig Hospital, mHealthIntelligence.com spoke with Andrea Elmquist.

What is the PatientTouch mobile platform?

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Andrea Elmquist: “Craig Hospital has been a long-time user of the PatientTouch products. Originally, we implemented a medication administration system. When PatientSafe decided to incorporate communications functionality within the same application, it allowed us to document information much more easily before administering insulin or other medications. We have also adopted secure messaging from those devices and two computers that are running telemetry alerts.”

What are the biggest benefits you've found from implementing the mobile alert system?

Andrea Elmquist: “The biggest benefit from the nursing perspective is that we now have one device for communicating about care, medication administration and receiving alert messages. Before nurses had to carry a wireless phone and a handheld device for communication processes, task follow-ups, and medication administration.”

“This is a huge benefit to nursing because they now only have to carry one single device. The nurses often had a type of tool belt that held multiple devices – such as cell phones and pagers – and were used for various clinical purposes. We have been trying to streamline mobile health solutions so that nurses don’t have to carry all that extra weight.”

How has this mobile alert system improved clinician workflow? How has it affected physicians?

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Andrea Elmquist: “Let’s first talk about nurse-to-nurse workflow. Through the mobile platform, one nurse can see where in the unit another nurse is located. There is no longer a need to ask others whether a particular nurse is on duty that night. There is no need to look at the staffing list.”

“Through the mobile device, one can call directly to who’s on staff. The nurses work with the unit secretary to send secure messages and have their questions answered. The mobile health application has really streamlined things. The unit secretary can send secure messages to the nurse without having to call them.”

“The way PatientTouch Communications is built, physicians can work with multiple team members and nurses. The nurses can use the device in a way that doesn’t require a one-to-one relationship among the physician teams.”

“During a regular shift, the mobile communication tool allows the nurses to assign themselves to a specific team and then become in charge of that team during that particular work period.”

“When doctors and nurses use PatientTouch to communicate, the nurse can directly dial or message the physician. The physician then will be able to access the phone number to call them back on. Physicians will not have to utilize a switchboard or speak to a unit secretary in order to connect to a team member. It is a very effective and easy-to-use communication tool.”

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Do you have any data on patient health outcomes while using the PatientTouch mobile alerts? Are outcomes improved?

Andrea Elmquist: “We don’t have any specific metrics at this moment in time, but staff satisfaction has gone up significantly and the staff is excited about the mobile alert system.”

What is in store for the future of the mobile health industry? How will mobile health apps affect patient care over the next decade or two?

Andrea Elmquist: “In my opinion, it’s the wave of the future and we will see more integration of mobile health solutions. Our next initiative on these devices is to integrate the nurse call.”

“Instead of having all nurses call the unit secretary, we are attempting to reduce alert fatigue and better coordinate these calls. We are making a structured attempt to get the right person to the right patient at the right time. This is especially important with patients who are incapacitated.”

“At Craig Hospital, we treat spine cord and traumatic brain injury patients. Our overall goal then is to get the right staff member to the right patient at the right time.”

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