The Connected Clinician: Revolutionizing Acute Care Nursing

Posted July 6, 2016

More than any other hospital staff member, nurses have felt the greatest impact to their workflow in support of Meaningful Use requirements and modern healthcare best practices. Ever-increasing government regulations for improved clinical documentation, in combination with a constant flow of new medical devices, have nurses spending more than 30% of their time in non-patient-care activities. Compound this with hospitals being squeezed financially from new government reimbursement laws, and the new reality is that nursing staffs are being reduced while simultaneously being asked to deliver more effective care. This demand for greater nursing efficiency and effectiveness has led to the creation of today’s modern Connected Clinician.

So what exactly is the Connected Clinician and what is enabling him or her to be more effective and efficient than ever before? The answer rests in new clinical mobile applications running on true Clinical Smartphones. Every leading Electronic Medical Records (EMR) software provider and specialty clinical software company is racing to release new mobile versions of their proven workflow applications to support the growing demand for greater mobility within the hospital. Applications such as vitals collection, meds administration, specimen collection, alarm management, nurse call and most importantly, care team communication are in the greatest demand. Reference apps that provide nurses and other clinical staff easy access to electronic drug data and dose safety information, such as eBroselow SafeDose, or medical dictionaries and disease reference guides, are very common as well.



Connecting Clinicians to Their Care Teams

The modern clinician needs to stay connected whenever and wherever he or she is in the hospital. The connection to the care team is one of the most important connections in modern patient care. Many software providers call this “Care Team Collaboration” and this includes Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone calls, secure texting, email and even video chat sessions. These systems make it easy to find the right care giver associated with each patient, and they provide real-time status of the care giver’s ability to connect. Thumbing through lists of clinician names in hopes one of them rings a bell is no longer part of the Connected Clinician’s shift.

Connecting Clinicians to Patients and Their Data

Staying connected to patient data, care plans and workflow status is a big part of EMR mobile application deployments. Referencing a patient’s medical record and care plan on a smartphone is revolutionizing the Connected Clinician’s life, allowing him or her to be more efficient by having the clinical smartphone and the clinical data in hand when the need for information is now. This eliminates the need to find an available PC or WoW cart to look up what is needed. Whether a nurse is in the cafeteria, down the hall or in the patient’s room, that data is just a click away. Allowing quick EMR data entry from a mobile device greatly enhances a clinician’s ability to move fast when lengthy documentation is not needed. PCs and WoW carts are not going away, but there are many times in the day of a Connected Clinician that a Clinical Smartphone is perfect for the task at hand.

Staying connected to the patient is also vitally important, and with a Clinical Smartphone, the connection points are powerfully changing nursing. Medical devices connected to a patient are monitoring vitals data and delivering medications in precise metered dosages. Now a Connected Clinician can monitor all the technology attached to his or her patient from anywhere in the hospital. Being able to check heart rate, blood pressure and temperature of the patient while walking down the hall to retrieve some supplies is a great way to repurpose less productive time.

Faster, More Effective Responses for Greater Patient Satisfaction

When these medical devices trigger an alarm, which they do quite often, the nurse or doctor can quickly check his or her Clinical Smartphone for immediate information to help them properly respond. With alarm fatigue being a major concern for most hospitals today, this breakthrough in mobile alarm management is saving lives and time.

Another important connection point for clinicians is Nurse Call: staying connected to the needs of the patient and their family members during their time under your care. The single most important factor in patient satisfaction scores is a patient’s belief that their nurse is there for them and in contact with them. Just knowing that their nurse is carrying a smartphone that they can call in case of an emergency is a huge change over pressing a button and knowing a red light just lit over your door. This is much like pressing the call button on an airplane – and when is the last time you felt really connected to your flight attendant? But a Clinical Smartphone takes Nurse Call to a whole new level. Now a nurse can answer the call with a voice connection, enabling better communication with his or her patient. Pressing the Nurse Call button and not knowing if anyone even noticed is a true threat to patient satisfaction.

Connecting Clinicians to the Internet-of-Things

One of the newest and most powerful connection points for the modern Connected Clinician is being connected to the Internet-of-Things (IoT). Either through an app on their phone or by accessing the Internet, nurses now have immediate access to the data they need to do their jobs more effectively. Looking up drug interactions or getting help administering a drug properly is becoming a norm for nurses and their smartphones. A recent survey reported that more than 50% of nurses preferred to look something up rather than ask another nurse or doctor. There are so many applications today that it is very common for modern nurses to have as many as 10 apps on their personal smartphones that they use every day on the job.

Personal versus Clinical Smartphones in Healthcare Environments

What exactly is a “Clinical” Smartphone, and what makes it better than consumer smartphones, VoIP phones or even the rugged mobile computers that were used in the past to help nursing workflows? The answer is that a Clinical Smartphone is in a sense a true “Converged Device,” blending the features of a laptop, a barcode scanner and a consumer smartphone, all in a rugged handheld package.

Clinical Smartphones are different in that they are more rugged (you can drop them), and designed to withstand the chemical disinfectants used in hospitals today. Clinical Smartphones have longer lasting batteries – the best ones on the market last more than a nurse’s 12-hour shift. And finally, Clinical Smartphones have built-in barcode scanners to rapidly capture patient wristbands, meds, specimen labels and all of the other barcodes found in the nurse’s workflow.

But from a user experience perspective, the Clinical Smartphone is a real smartphone, with a touchscreen interface that today’s users can’t imagine living without. Today Android is one of the most popular Clinical Smartphone operating systems, and most of the apps that nurses use can be found on the Google Play store, right alongside their favorite consumer apps and gadgets. While Clinical Smartphones are powerful rugged mobile computers, they will soon become the nurse’s smartphone while on the job. And soon enough, he or she will find it hard to imagine what nursing was like before the Clinical Smartphone

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