Buzzwords rise and fall in popularity in every industry, and healthcare technology is no exception. Blockchain and artificial intelligence are buzzing at this year, along with predictive analytics, telemedicine and big data. But one word I spotted frequently on exhibitor booths and heard repeatedly in educational sessions and convention hall conversations, is the simple but powerful connection.
“Connection is the heart of interoperability,” the huge LED screen screams at the entrance to the , the highest trafficked area of the exhibit floor, according to HIMSS. And making connections was the main focus of the interoperability use cases presented by dozens of vendors on a variety of topics, from pediatric cancer to heart failure to substance abuse treatment. Voalte was part of the Mother and Infant Mortality Prevention use case, along with , , , and .
Our use case followed a pregnant mother from her doctor’s office to the Emergency Department of the local hospital, through labor and delivery, to treatment of both mother and baby. Connecting medical records from different EHRs, connecting care teams throughout the hospital, and connecting mother and baby via monitoring systems were all vital parts of the scenario. A Voalte smartphone was the endpoint device, receiving alerts generated by a Smiths Medical device alarm and pinpointing the physical location where the alarm originated via location tracking from GuardRFID. It’s not difficult to see the critical nature of these connections when put into the context of preventing a mother-baby mismatch, or sending a “Code Pink” alarm when a baby is moved from a designated location.
A presentation at the Voalte Platform. “The No. 1 reason for sentinel events is a breakdown in communication,” she said. “Hospitals need a mobile device that can connect all members of the care team with streamlined communication, and provide vital tools such as barcode scanners that ensure accurate scanning of meds, breast milk and patients to prevent errors.” booth echoed the importance of strong connections between different technologies and among complex teams of clinicians. Rikki Jennings, BSN, RN, CPN, and Chief Nursing Informatics Officer of Zebra, discussed the importance of connecting a rugged device such as the Zebra TC51-HC with the power of
Dana Peco, MSN, BSN, CCRN, and Clinical Solutions Specialist at Voalte added, “When hospitals can run multiple applications on one device, the end user – whether a nurse, patient care tech, respiratory therapist, physician or pharmacist – has the information he or she needs to work as efficiently as possible.”
The joint Voalte-Zebra session ended with Allana Cummings, CIO of , pointing out the importance of strong connections between vendors when deploying mobile clinician initiatives. “These are very rich devices that have become an indispensable tool for our staff,” she said. “So we look to both teams to work together and partner with us so we can be sure we are getting the most out of our investment.”
One of the HIMSS educational sessions, “,” by Candice Friestad, DNP, MSN, MBA, RN, of , also highlighted the importance of connecting systems and staff. Using Voalte Platform at 20 hospital facilities, Avera care teams have access to comprehensive patient information at their fingertips via integration with the EHR and ADT data.
“The biggest complaint of patients is that they don’t know what’s going on,” Candice said. “Now, we can route nurse calls directionally to the right person depending on whether the patient is experiencing pain, needs bathroom assistance, or wants a glass of water. If a patient requests pain meds, for example, the nurse uses the smartphone to call back to the pillow speaker and say, ‘I’ll be there in five minutes.’ Making that personal connection and knowing that someone is responding to their request is a huge contributor to patient satisfaction.”
While connection may not be the hottest buzzword of the year, you can see why it’s one of the most prevalent.
Lori Uzzo is Communications Manager at Voalte.