I’m not a nurse. But I like to think that my time serving as a U.S. Army medic on the Libyan border helps me relate to hospital nurses. I know that when you need to make important decisions and work quickly in a chaotic environment, you really depend on having accurate information and the proper tools at hand.
Recently, I helped with a Voalte Platform go-live at Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC), a 245-bed facility in Maryland that is retiring its legacy phones. The toughest part of this assignment was the start time of 4 a.m. on a Sunday. (And I volunteered for this.) I was assigned to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), where I was amazed to see how quickly nurses became comfortable with their new Voalte smartphones. With brand-new Zebra MC40-HC mobile devices in their hands, they immediately began finding colleagues in the Directory, and were thrilled they no longer needed to remember phone numbers.
In my 15 years in healthcare IT, I’ve never witnessed such fast adoption of new technology. With voice badges, there is a long user learning curve and often a battle with voice recognition, with some nurses actually having to “train” the badge to understand their accent or way of speaking. Nowadays, nearly everyone knows how to use a smartphone, and most people use one every day in their personal lives. I never really appreciated the importance of ease of adoption until I witnessed it first-hand. I heard comments such as, “This is fantastic!” and, “Our hospital should have done this years ago!”
Besides making voice calls, the nurses at GBMC were extremely excited about the ability to exchange text messages with colleagues throughout the hospital. They felt they would not only respond to patients more quickly, but also build a sense of teamwork that would provide a palatable difference to patients.
One nurse asked a question about placing an order with the Central Supply department. She explained that she typically would call and leave a message to request supplies, then wait for someone to get back to her, wondering if they had received her message. With her Voalte smartphone, I explained, she can send a text message requesting what she needed, and receive confirmation automatically when the message is read. It may seem minor, but knowing that you have communicated effectively, and the information or tools you need are on the way, is no small thing.
Jeff Green is Area Sales Manager at Voalte.