Study demonstrates wireless voice communication positively impacts hospital communications, work flow, and caregiver satisfaction

Cupertino 23 February 2004Vocera Communications, a wireless voice communications company, and St. Agnes Healthcare in Baltimore, Maryland, have published the results of a comprehensive benefits study measuring the impact the Vocera wearable instant communications system has on time-savings, work flow, and nursing satisfaction in the hospital. Conducted at St. Agnes Healthcare, a 299-bed, full-service, teaching community hospital, by First Consulting Group (FCG), the study showed the Vocera Communications System saved each health care unit an average of 3400 hours per year in improved communications, which equates to a cost savings of $74.000 per unit. The system also reduced noisy overhead paging by 94 percent.

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"This study demonstrates the measurable impact of this technology", stated Julie Shimer, CEO of Vocera Communications. "The results show this system saves time, which means hospitals can administer better care, while the nurses can spend more time at the patient's bedside."

Additional study findings show:

  • Nursing and unit secretary time-savings was substantial. Specifically, unit secretaries saved 1650 hours, nurses saved 1146 hours, and nurse techs saved 626 hours annually. This is the equivalent of 1,7 FTEs (full-time equivalent) per unit.
  • Using the Vocera System for communications was up to five times faster than other communications methods, including paging systems. Vocera enables mobile and direct communications to eliminate hand-offs and reliance upon the unit secretary to serve as the communication hub.
  • Communications between staff on the Vocera-enabled nursing unit improved. Having the capability to directly connect with other nurses to answer questions and provide care assistance is facilitated with Vocera. Nearly 80 percent of the health care workers stated that Vocera saved them at least 15 minutes per shift.
  • Nurses believe Vocera improves work flow and the ability to deliver quality patient care. Almost 80 percent of the nurses agreed that Vocera has positively improved work flow.

The Vocera Communications System enables mobile workers within buildings or campuses to instantly connect with one another using simple voice commands. Combining the leading-edge technologies of Wireless LAN (WiFi), Voice over IP (VoIP), and speech recognition, the system allows users to communicate, make decisions, and act quickly anytime, anywhere within an 802.11b-networked facility. The Vocera System consists of the Vocera System Software and Vocera Communications Badges. The badge, weighing less than 2 ounces, can be clipped to a shirt pocket or collar, or worn on a lanyard, enabling instant, hands-free voice communication any time, anywhere.

"The study findings indicate a conservative estimate of time and cost savings for the nursing staff", stated William Greskovich, vice president of operations and CIO of St. Agnes Healthcare. "We anticipate the new features announced in the Vocera 2.1 release and the Nurse Call Integration Module will blow these numbers out of the water. The benefits study results encouraged us to pursue an Enterprise license of the Vocera System."

The Vocera 2.1 release includes a push-to-talk capability for instant conversations among groups of users, voice-initiated paging, text-to-speech message playback, and new enterprise administration features. Vocera's Nurse Call Integration Module is designed to interface with leading nurse call systems, and allows caregivers to instantly receive patient bedside notifications and respond more quickly to patient needs.

"Nurses are a mobile workforce constantly on the go, taking care of our patients", stated St. Agnes Healthcare Nurse Manager, Kathi Diver. "Vocera's system helps us save up to 30 minutes a day we would have spent tracking down other people or hunting for information. Instead, we put that time savings back into caring for patients." Having the capability to directly connect with other nurses to answer questions and provide assistance via the Vocera System is improving efficiency and patient care.

The following chart contrasts communication between health care workers before using Vocera and after Vocera. Process Analysis Data ExamplesCommunications ProcessAverage Process Time (min.)Unit Secretary to RNWith Vocera.32 minutesWithout Vocera1.74 minutesUnit Secretary to StaffWith Vocera.42 minutesWithout Vocera2.67 minutesRN to StaffWith Vocera.42 minutesWithout Vocera2.67 minutes

The study was conducted by FCG of Long Beach, California, in December 2003. The research was done by observing and monitoring three shifts, 24 hours a day. Data included surveys, tracking logs, direct observation, interviews, process flow analysis, time and motion analysis, and Vocera call logs.

St. Agnes HealthCare is a 299-bed, full-service community teaching hospital with residency programmes in a number of medical/surgical specialities. Key services at St. Agnes HealthCare include: The St. Agnes Cancer Center, The Chest Pain Emergency Center, Cardiovascular Services, Women's Health Services, The Joint Connection, The Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery and Telemedicine, and the St. Agnes Emergency Department, which includes Paediatric, Adult, and Urgent Care Emergency Centers.

FCG is a provider of outsourcing, consulting, systems implementations, and integration for health care, pharmaceutical, and other life sciences organisations throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Through combinations of on-site, off-site, and off-shore outsourced services, FCG provides low-cost, high-quality offerings to improve its clients' performance. The firm's consulting and integration services increase clients' operations effectiveness with and through information technology, resulting in reduced costs, improved customer service, enhanced quality of patient care, and more rapid introduction of new pharmaceutical compounds.

Vocera Communications has created a wireless communications system to enhance customer service, productivity, and teamwork throughout organisations by enabling instant communication among mobile workers. The company was founded in March 2000.


Leslie Versweyveld

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