Collaboration among hospital care teams is essential for positive patient outcomes. Doctors, nurses, laboratory techs and pharmacists all need to be on the same page in diagnosing, treating and monitoring patients – particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, when dangerous respiratory conditions can be due to many causes.
Long before the COVID-19 outbreak, Avaya began piloting an eight-month collaborative care team application at the Mayo Clinic, outlined at an Avaya ENGAGE session, “Enhancing the Patient Experience: Care Team Collaboration Using Avaya IX Workplace.” The result was more effective communication and higher engagement among team members, according to Scott Fagerlin, senior telecommunications engineer, Mayo Clinic, and Kim Leffler, client solutions director, Avaya.
“Many healthcare organizations have siloed communications channels,” said Leffler. A nursing station might be tied to a legacy voice platform, while nurses carry smartphones for voice, text and email, as well as tablets to access a patient’s electronic medical record (EMR). “There is a great deal of value in being able to consolidate those devices and standardize the platforms,” she added.
Avaya IX Workplace Client (formerly Avaya Equinox® Client), is a soft phone application that provides users with access to unified communications (UC) services associated with Avaya Aura® infrastructure. It extends UC services to Mac and Windows desktops, as well as Android and iOS mobile platform for point-to-point audio and video calls as well as conference calls.
In 2018, the nursing leadership at Mayo Clinic asked Avaya to present an integrated solution for the care floors, said Fagerlin. That led to an IX Workplace rollout that began in December and was completed in August 2019. There were approximately 30 participants in the program from each point of care
“We began with a basic deployment, but have only scratched the surface so far,” he said. That deployment included giving every nurse an external number and a new iPhone device with features like click-to-call, an easily accessible directory and call history, and access to medical applications, including EMRs. However, staffers did not want their cell numbers to be visible to patients or family members.
“One thing we learned from the pilot was that the laboratories professionals were considered part of the care team by the nurses, but not the EMR platform,” Leffler said. “So, we added them to the frequently called contact list in IX Workplace.”
Another lesson was the importance of flexibility in the directory and contact list. “Some nurses wanted the lab as a high-priority contact, while others did not,” Leffler said. “While it’s good to template some functions, you want to give individuals the ability to do some configurations based on their usage of the devices.”
Before beginning a deployment, be sure your wireless infrastructure can support the program, said Fagerlin. You should also involve your mobile device team at an early stage and leverage their knowledge. “In our case, we configured the iPhones to enable push notifications from Apple, and we prevented the app from sleeping when the device closes,” he said. “We also had to bring all the devices up to the latest iOS release. Other steps we took were turning off the cellular data option, so the staffers couldn’t download music or games.”
While healthcare organizations this spring are scrambling to serve a sharp increase in patient volume due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Mayo Clinic experience can serve as a model for enhancing care coordination in the future.