Valley Medical Center, an acute care, nonprofit community hospital in the suburbs of Seattle, always has had a strong commitment to using innovative health care technologies. The hospital has earned numerous accolades attesting to that fact, such as being named one of health care’s Most Wired and reaching Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Analytics Stage 7. However, the medical center struggled to find a simple, yet effective, communications network.
Valley Medical Center — which is an entity of University of Washington Medicine and manages a network of primary care, urgent care and specialty care clinics — suffered from communication overload. A tangled web of landline phones, legacy mobile phones, pagers, handheld radios and overhead paging ultimately resulted in disjointed communication that led to workflow delays and such staff annoyances as nurses having to wait for physicians to call back and hallways noisy with frequent overhead announcements. The environment was affecting staff and patient satisfaction. It also was a roadblock in the hospital’s efforts to implement quality measures and process improvements to ensure Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reimbursements and avoid penalties.