Effective communication among hospital providers is critical to improve safety and efficiency, and deliver high-quality patient care. Past studies have shown that technology may improve operational efficiency and communication among providers.
Our team observed and interviewed care team members on two medical floors over a two-day period to identify barriers to communication. We found that providers spent considerable time trying to gather information from other members of the care team, that messages were not easily prioritized in terms of urgency, and that both staff and patients were frustrated with outdated communication tools.
Based on our observations, we identified three needs an intervention should address:
- Reduce time to identify the right care team member
- Reduce time to “close the loop” or get the information needed
- Increase care team satisfaction with communication
We then created several paper prototypes of IPhone applications. Each prototype featured different qualities to address the needs we had identified. We shared the sketches with care team members to gather feedback and test assumptions.
Based on the team’s feedback, we selected an existing smart technology and a secured-messaging mobile application, Cureatr™ and conducted a pilot to measure potential impact.
Nurses, residents, faculty physicians, pharmacists, social workers, and discharge planning nurses were provided iPhones or iTouches with access to the Cureatr™ application on four hospital units in March 2013.
At the conclusion of the pilot, nurses and physicians reported saving an average of 60-90 minutes a day using the shared communication platform. In addition, providers expressed that they felt the technology improved the efficiency of patient care and led to higher productivity - decreasing length of stay in certain units.
This project was selected among 31 competitive entries from hospitals and health systems across the region as a second place winner in the 2014 Delaware Valley Quality and Patient Safety Awards. In recognition of this honor, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania received a grant of $2,000 toward the advancement of quality and patient safety initiatives.