Norwalk Hospital Gets Vocera Right

Posted by: Kenny Schiff on February 17, 2007

By assembling a cross-functional team and clearly establishing project goals and requirements up front, Norwalk Hospital, a 328-bed facility in Fairfield County Connecticut, found the right technology – and the right technology partner – to dramatically improve intra-hospital and patient-caregiver communications.

Norwalk Hospital assembled a cross-functional team of technologists, nurses, clinicians, and doctors who set practical and realistic expectations, made sure the hospital’s infrastructure could support the technology and carefully vetted all solution providers to ensure the proper level of support after deployment.

Next, the Norwalk team visited a hospital that had recently deployed a Vocera communications system. The team toured the facility, speaking with nursing staff and meeting with a customer care representative from TPC Healthcare, the technology solution provider that had installed and supported the hospital’s Vocera deployment.

In addition, the Norwalk team met with two large, national vendors but was concerned about their proposed level of support. “The remote support they offered after installation was insufficient,” recalls Bernadette Rose of Norwalk Hospital’s telecommunications/IT specialist and leader of the search team. Adds Lyon, “They didn’t have a local contact, and we feared it would be difficult to get the services we needed.”

TPC Healthcare, however, was local and had successfully deployed Vocera at several area hospitals. The company had a reputation for being hands-on and for working with healthcare customers from pre-sales through installation and afterwards.

In 2006, Norwalk Hospital awarded TPC Healthcare the contract for installing and supporting Vocera. Over the summer, TPC deployed Vocera in stages to over 600 users in eight nursing units, as well as to Norwalk’s residents, catering associates and the IV and Rapid Response teams.

TPC’s involvement with Norwalk Hospital did not end after the rollout. TPC customer care members went unit to unit during all three shifts, working around the clock to train staff on Vocera. TPC also provided handy training tools, such as laminated instruction cards for the Vocera badges. Months later, TPC continues to be an important, supportive presence at the hospital.

Hospital staff members have really taken to Vocera and most cannot imagine life without it. “Response time is better because now, instead of walking from room to room looking for staff members, you can talk to them directly,” says Renee Peart, a med-surge patient care manager at Norwalk. Similarly, doctors can locate and call nurses directly on their badges, and nurses can talk hands-free.

When patients are in crisis and need the Rapid Response team, nurses can now stay with the patient until help arrives instead of searching for help. Case in point — Denise White, a patient care manager for the ICU and CCU, admitted a patient in critical condition without having to leave the patient’s side, thanks to the Vocera communications system. “That’s a big plus for patient safety,” says Peart.

Indeed, what started out as a project to reduce noise level in the hospital’s units has yielded tremendous workflow and patient safety benefits.

For Norwalk’s Bernadette Rose, who has years of experience dealing with IT vendors, there are four components to a successful IT project. “One is picking a vendor who will work with you and not leave you hanging,” she says. “The second is a strong project manager to spearhead the project and act as liaison between the vendor and nursing staff, our biggest user group. The third is having strong nursing management to ‘sell’ it to staff. And the last is having a cooperative IT department as rollout begins.”

“Collaboration is critical,” says Kenny Schiff, a principal at TPC Healthcare. “Success requires clearly articulated business goals, sound IT leadership, a well-designed and managed infrastructure, the right product for your environment, supportive vendors and clinical leadership. If your hospital is weak in any one of these areas, your project will be at risk.”

“Norwalk built the right internal coalition and we collaborated for success,” says Schiff. “They recognized the vulnerabilities of their wireless and network infrastructure and did what was necessary to meet the demands of wireless voice.”

About TPC Healthcare
Headquartered in Stratford, Connecticut, TPC Healthcare is a full-service technology and communications solutions provider delivering wireless voice, workflow/middleware messaging applications and managed support services to healthcare organizations. TPC Healthcare focuses on offering customers technology expertise, exceptional levels of service and years of experience developing healthcare communications solutions. For more information, visit www.tpchealthcare.com.

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