Two members of Truman Medical Centers' stff use clinical smartphones to communicate with other care team members
By Rikki Jennings | March 17, 2020

Truman Medical Centers Takes “Significant Step Forward” with Single Mobility Investment

Giving nurses, doctors and other staff a clinical smartphone solution has improved care team satisfaction by 35 percent since 2017 – and that’s just one of the many benefits realized so far.

According to Zebra’s latest Intelligent Enterprise Index, 66 percent of healthcare systems have an Internet of Things (IoT) vision and are executing on the plan. Truman Medical Centers (TMC) in Kansas City, Missouri, is one of them.

In 2017, TMC set out on a mission to more sustainably deliver state-of-the-art quality healthcare to its community by improving care team communication and collaboration. And, like the 70 percent of healthcare leaders who participated in Zebra’s 2019 Intelligent Enterprise Index, TMC leaders felt as though mobile computers were the best technology tools for the job.

At first, the goal was to equip nurses with a single clinical smartphone that would allow for instantaneous two-way conversations with other staff, including physicians, pharmacists and lab technicians. The healthcare system’s leaders believed that this one change could drastically improve the quality of patient care across TMC’s hospitals and clinics. And it did, as you will see in the below video.

TMC Care Teams Can’t Stop Talking About How Much Better Communications Have Become

TMC floor nurse and clinical informaticist Kassaundra McKnight-Young is a huge advocate of the Zebra and Cerner mobility solution. She was also one of the first adopters of the technology and is now a member of the implementation team.

When asked why she believes so strongly in the benefits of this technology, she points back to something she said in her recent Stories from the Edge blog post:

“…there have been many times when I’ve opted to sit by the phone waiting on someone from the care team to call back to answer a concern for my patient. That can take as little as a few minutes, to an hour, and sometimes I would never get a call back.  The reality of sitting and waiting takes time away from nursing care and keeps the nurse from the patient’s bedside.”

Since TMC nurses are able to consult in near-real time with other care team members located elsewhere inside its two acute care facilities, including physicians, they are able to collaboratively take more informed actions to support patients and improve outcomes without delay.

In fact, a recent study led by Dr. Robin Imperial of Truman Medical Centers confirmed that use of CareAware Connect™, Cerner’s clinical communications and collaboration solution on the Zebra TC-series clinical smartphone, was the preferred mode of communication among internal medicine residents and nurses at TMC. This particular mobility solution improved communication satisfaction by 35 percentage points and decreased reported communication response times by interdisciplinary team members by 50 percent.

The Quality of Patient Interactions Improves the Quality of Patient Care

As Dr. Imperial stated in his recent study report:

“Communication amongst providers and nursing staff is paramount in providing high-quality patient care, minimizing clinical errors, and maximizing workflow efficiency.

In other words, miscommunication at any point in patient care processes can lead to less effective treatment. In fact, TMC internal medicine clinicians who participated in Dr. Imperial’s study felt that the more they charted patient vitals, examinations and treatments via their mobile devices, the less time they spent in the electronic health record (EHR) overall. In turn, they had more time to engage in meaningful patient interactions.

Of course, maintaining an accurate EHR and providing clinicians with real-time accessibility to that record at the point of care is absolutely imperative to patient safety, compliance and accountability in modern healthcare environments.  

Fortunately for TMC, Zebra handheld mobile computers are well-equipped to support multiple clinical workflows. And, as you heard in the video above, the Zebra solution has scaled nicely to support CareAware Connect’s new clinical workflow innovations. As CareAware Connect continues to release cutting-edge capabilities, TMC has added specimen collection and vitals documentation onto the Zebra handheld with plans to add smart pump programming and EMR alerts in the future.

Now, with just the one clinical smartphone device, nurses can scan a barcode on a wristband or medication bottle to help verify patient identities and pharmacy orders prior to administration or take a picture of a wound for EHR documentation and physician monitoring. The best part is that they can do all of this without leaving the patient’s side, which is key to improving patient care.

 “I Can Do My Entire Job…” and “We Can Complete Our Entire Mission…” with Just One Mobile Device

TMC essentially replaced the five devices previously found on the “nurses’ toolbelt” with one Zebra clinical smartphone device. Nurses are no longer tethered to desktop computers at the nurse’s station or forced to wheel computer carts from room to room. As a result, they have decreased the number of steps nurses take each shift. Clinicians have also reported increased accuracy in certain tasks, such as safety verifications during medication administration, blood transfusions and breast milk distribution.  The mobile device has helped to increase accountability and compliance, while improving patient safety.

That’s precisely why TMC plans to extend the Zebra-Cerner mobility solution to its ambulatory staff as well as additional clinical areas within its healthcare system in the coming months, such as perioperative. It also plans to implement additional applications, such as Smart Pump programming.

The scalability and adaptability of the technology has delivered benefits far beyond what TMC originally anticipated in 2017.

As TMC’s Chief Nursing Officer Amy Peters said on a recent call with Zebra and Cerner, “We’ve already come so far in our mission to improve the quality of healthcare we provide to our community. We know that no matter how much further we decide to go from here, we’ll have the right technology tools to achieve our goals and deliver the outcomes that our clinicians, patients and administrators expect.”

Healthcare, Healthcare, Healthcare, Healthcare, Healthcare, Healthcare, Healthcare,
Rikki Jennings, BSN, RN, CPN
Rikki Jennings, BSN, RN, CPN

Rikki Jennings, BSN, RN, CPN is currently the Chief Nursing Informatics Officer (CNIO) at Zebra Technologies where she is responsible for combining her knowledge of patient care, informatics concepts, and change management to effectively address the information and knowledge needs of healthcare professionals and patients to promote safe, effective, and efficient use of IT in clinical settings.  She also serves as the strategic liaison for health IT efforts representing nursing and clinician needs.

Early in her nursing career, Rikki recognized a disconnect between purchased technologies and the understanding of their intended value at the bedside by her fellow clinicians and pursued Nursing Informatics. She is passionate about the utilization of technology to support safer, more effective care models. Over the past several years, her work in the healthcare IT industry has provided her an in-depth knowledge of the workflows and utilization of clinical technologies including clinical communication systems, bedside technology solutions, and data analytics tools in hospitals across the country.  In 2019, Rikki was recognized in Crain’s Chicago Business’ Notable Women in Healthcare list.

Rikki holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of Iowa.

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