Leading the Digitisation of Healthcare to Improve Patient Care, Safety, and Outcomes How Metro South Health Enables Real-Time Care Team Communication and Improves Clinical Workflows Cameron Ballantine, CIO at Metro South Health Designing a Digital Hospital Program Metro South Health is a major hospital group in Australia leading the digitisation of healthcare in Queensland. As the Chief Information Officer, I lead our Digital Hospital Program across five facilities and implement solutions that will make it an enterprise-wide success. The program was launched approximately seven years ago and is focused on moving away from paper-based processes and toward an integrated digital ecosystem. The fundamental goals of the Digital Hospital Program are to improve patient care, safety, and outcomes while improving clinical workflows and operational efficiencies within the hospital group. Underpinning this strategy is the principle that information is available to clinicians in as near to real time as possible. Enabling Clinicians to Communicate in Real Time Vocera technology plays a critical role in assisting us achieve our digital program objectives. Many of our staff members depend on the Vocera® Badge, a small, wearable voice-controlled communication device that enables care team members to communicate hands-free. In addition to improving clinical workflows and patient experience, the wireless device is helping safeguard our patients and staff. One of our physiotherapists was doing a walking exercise with a patient in a stairwell when the patient collapsed. The physiotherapist pressed the call button on the Vocera Badge and made a broadcast to request assistance, which was quickly responded to and support staff arrived in a matter of seconds. If Vocera technology had not been in place, the staff member would have had to either wait with the patient in the hope assistance arrived or leave the patient to find someone. Our medical & surgical units are very busy, and we have patients at varying levels of acuity supported by complex, multidisciplinary care teams. With the Vocera system, staff members do not need to remember phone numbers or who is available or on call. They can connect with the
right person or group with a simple voice command such as “call a Peri-Op Nurse” or “call blue team.” Team members can communicate quickly, share information, or organise a meeting without wasting time looking for each other. This seamless connectivity improves patient care and the care team experience. Creating an Ideal Healing and Working Environment After implementing Vocera technology, it was much easier for people to connect with the right person. Our clinicians went into healthcare to care for patients, not to wander the hospital halls looking for help. Inefficient processes and breakdowns in communication can take clinicians away from the patient bedside. Because of the Vocera solution our staff have fewer interruptions and can focus on what matters most: the patient and providing high-quality compassionate care. The additional time our clinicians can spend with patients has resulted in improvements to patient experience, care, and safety. Vocera technology has enabled a quieter environment; we no longer have loud overhead paging. The technology has fantastic voice recognition and can distill the voice of the person speaking from any surrounding noise. Staff have naturally gravitated to speaking normally into the device rather than projecting their voices to their colleagues. Many patients have told us that the quietness has contributed to creating a more peaceful, healing environment. A senior clinical employee of ours was recently admitted to a very busy clinical unit and shared her positive healthcare experience at Metro South Health in a social media post. She said, “I significantly noticed how quiet it was while I was lying there both pre-and post-surgery.” Because of patient feedback like this and sound data indicating improvements in clinical workflows, we’ve expanded the use of Vocera technology throughout Metro South Health. We are looking for new ways to apply it as we continue to digitise our service to improve the overall healthcare experience.