Research & Technology, Pennock Hospital
Spectrum Health Pennock launches secure cellphone program to enhance workflow, patient services
March 1, 2018
Physicians, nurses, technologists and other staff members at Spectrum Health Pennock will begin to use mobile phone technology to communicate and enhance patient services. The mobile phones are part of a technology pilot program Spectrum Health System is conducting. Pennock and Ludington hospitals are the first two test sites.
The mobile devices going live at Pennock are iPhones offered through communications company, Voalte. The phones will allow specific hospital staff users to place calls or send secure text messages to physicians, nurses, technologists and other staff members as part of their patient workflows. Using the phones, staff can identify rosters of personnel by unit, role or patient room assignments and send group messages to pertinent staff. Charge nurses can assign tasks or message specific team members based on availability, as shown on the mobile devices. Nurses can text physicians and advanced practice providers to gain more immediate feedback on questions or concerns.
“This new application and use of cell phone technology will greatly enhance our internal communication abilities,” explains Jason Hoult, information services manager at Spectrum Health Pennock. “This in turn is going to help us improve patient services. Cell phone usage has become routine in nearly all aspects of life, so that alone is not very unique or innovative. What is innovative, however, is the use of this available technology to enhance our ability to care for patients. As our direct patient care workers tend to be very mobile in doing their jobs every day, we need solutions for mobile communications that can keep up. Our patients will benefit from our ability to securely and quickly communicate with each other.”
“The iPhones equipped with the Voalte application operate on a secure, private network,” Hoult said. This, along with encrypted technology whereby every user has a specific login, makes them secure. “The phones are compliant with all federal patient privacy laws,” explained Holt. “They are unusable except to the person to whom they are assigned and, in fact, do not connect via cell phone towers. We take patient data security very seriously, and the Voalte phones are completely secure and compliant.”
There are many ways Pennock staff will utilize this mobile technology. “The phones can identify every member on a care team for a particular patient. So if the charge nurse needs to communicate about that patient’s status, he or she can send out a group text message and see when each team member reads it. In this way, communication is streamlined for faster service to our patients and their families. And, it gives the sender of the message the necessary reassurance that the message was indeed received,” said Steve Marzolf, chief nursing officer at Spectrum Health Pennock.
“Most importantly we want patients and family members to know if a staff member is seen texting or making a phone call in a patient room on a mobile device, be assured they are using it for work-related purposes,” said Marzolf. “Staff have been trained on the use of the cell phones and understand personal correspondence, on personal phones, has to take place on breaks or outside of work.”
Departments and staff that will initially be included in using the devices are: inpatient units and hospitalists, respiratory therapy, pharmacy, emergency department staff and providers, surgery and anesthesia providers, environmental and nutrition services, information services, rehabilitation and diagnostic services, sleep center and medical imaging and lab.
Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 12 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; 180 ambulatory and service sites; 3,600 physicians and advanced practice providers, including 1,500 members of the Spectrum Health Medical Group; and Priority Health, a health plan that served 996,000 members in fiscal year 2017. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer, with 26,000 employees. The organization provided $372 million in community benefit during its 2017 fiscal year. Spectrum Health was named one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems—and in the top five among the largest health systems—in 2017 by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM. This was the sixth time the organization received this recognition.
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