My daughter is a nurse at a major medical center. Throughout the pandemic, she has been redeployed a few times. First, from her regular job to managing a COVID-19 testing site, then to managing an emergency department surge tent, and now, managing vaccination sites in addition to her standard responsibilities.
In the photo, my daughter is wearing typical PPE. It carries a self-contamination risk rate of 35% or more when it’s been doffed, which is exceptionally high.
If you’re wearing PPE and in a patient’s room, in order to communicate with your team, you must stop caring for the patient. You must remove your PPE, wash your hands, and exit the room. Only then can you answer a phone or call for assistance, for an x-ray, for a lab draw, or to conference with other physicians and nurses.
Requiring staff to remove PPE to stay connected increases PPE waste, exposes clinicians to a risk of self-contamination, and consumes valuable time. Your staff shouldn’t have to risk contamination for efficient and effective communication.
With frontline healthcare workers like my daughter in mind, our COVID-19 response task force compiled a list of simple configurations of Vocera technology for hospitals to make communication more efficient and effective during the pandemic and beyond. We make these publicly available in a growing library that includes more than 30 use cases. Some use cases originated with our customers who’ve already put them in action. Others come from our staff clinicians at Vocera.
The first set of solutions is about improving capacity and throughput with safe patient flow. It leads with a use case to wear a Vocera Smartbadge or Badge to communicate hands-free while wearing PPE. This use case is incredibly popular owing to the need to conserve PPE and reduce the risk of self-contamination when doffing protective gear.
We need to rethink the concept of modern healthcare PPE, and safe, effective communication needs to be part of it. The ability to communicate is fundamental to providing care, and our wearable devices enable efficient and effective communication no matter the situation or isolated environment.
A second set of solutions in our COVID-19 use case library focuses on creating and maintaining efficient and effective communications with teams in rapidly changing environments.
One problem confronting workers in novel environments is knowing how to easily contact new members of their team. Who’s playing what role? Who’s available? Particularly, when working at an offsite environment like a remote vaccine site, how do you easily reach your support staff who may be back on campus?
With the Vocera Platform, there’s no need to worry about remembering names, numbers, or who is currently on call. You can connect with the right person or group using simple voice commands. Users can quickly and easily call or send secure text messages to members of specific COVID-19 response groups, such as groups of vaccinators or pharmacists, staff distributing vaccines to vaccination areas, staff responding to adverse vaccine reactions, or staff responding in the event of a freezer failure.
There’s no need to remember who was working on a specific team or when. The platform integrates with digital on-call schedules and staff assignment systems. Hospital staff can easily send messages to on-call groups, knowing the correct users will get the messages.
When you isolate your staff physically, there’s no reason to simultaneously isolate them technologically. Make sure they’re safe and have a secure way to maintain efficient and effective communications.
I encourage you to download our use case library. It covers topics specific to COVID-19 communication—from sharing and accessing urgent information, to streamlining vaccine administration, to facilitating patient and family communication, and promoting care team well-being.
If you missed my recent webinar, “Protect Patients, Care Teams and COVID-19 Vaccines,” you can view it here.
As a hospital IT or clinical leader, what are you experiencing? How can we help you manage through this pandemic, and protect and empower your teams? I invite you to reach out to me on LinkedIn.