St. Luke's University Health Network's journey to a new clinical communication and collaboration platform — insights and lessons learned

Transforming clinical communications represents a significant change for healthcare organizations. A successful journey is composed of many small wins.

During a virtual featured session sponsored by TigerConnect as part of Becker's Hospital Review 11th Annual Meeting in May, four experts from Bethlehem, Pa.-based St. Luke's University Health Network discussed their transition to a streamlined clinical communication and collaboration platform. The speakers were:

  • Matthew Fenty, director of innovation and strategic partnerships
  • Nicole Kennedy, clinical communications and virtual care specialist
  • Ryan Morcette, senior clinical communications and virtual care specialist
  • Christina Musser, senior network director, clinical communications, virtual care

Five key takeaways:

1. Transforming clinical communications means evaluating the big picture. St. Luke's recognized that their internal communications needed changes that only new technologies and process standardization could deliver. Clinical staff often covered multiple hospitals and used disparate coverage scheduling systems. They relied on manual, time-consuming processes like calling the operator and waiting on hold. To identify the foundational requirements for self-service clinical collaboration and communication, the St. Luke's innovation team looked at the big picture. They evaluated the telecommunications infrastructure as well as human resources and governance policies. "Economies of scale and the associated benefits can only be realized when you look at the entire enterprise," Mr. Fenty said.

2. Deploying a clinical communication and collaboration platform is more than a technology upgrade — it's a cultural transformation. St. Luke's discovered that culture change isn't linear. "It's an iterative process to realize value," Ms. Musser said. "We built the initial frameworks, put the technology in end users' hands and got little wins. Over time, the old technology began to fall away." When creating a strong foundation for change, governance is essential. The St. Luke's team worked with HR, technology, security, legal and medical leadership to present a united front. Early evangelists and champions also played a key role in changing the culture.

3. TigerConnect addresses communication pain points for clinical and nonclinical staff. St. Luke's TigerConnect journey began with simple provider-to-provider messaging, but quickly evolved into role-based messaging. The Roles capability identifies the correct provider and supports direct communication. Tags also enable campus-specific search options. St. Luke's used TigerFlow to expand communication to nonclinical departments like pastoral care, biomed, hospital supervisors and more. "We began to look for opportunities to promote our pager replacement initiative," Ms. Kennedy said. "Unlike pagers, TigerConnect analytics provide reporting details, and TigerConnect also supports EHR integration."

4. A robust clinical communication and collaboration platform improves system efficiency. Since implementing TigerConnect, St. Luke's has experienced significant improvements in clinical communication. "Despite vast network growth, we saw an 82 percent decrease in internal calls to operators," Mr. Morcette said. "This has decreased our full-time employee requirements. In addition, since 2018, we've had an 800 percent increase in direct-to-provider or direct role messaging. Active pagers across the network have also decreased by 68 percent." Looking ahead, St. Luke's plans to continue its TigerConnect EHR integration work, address areas with outdated infrastructure and engage patients in clinical communications.

5. Best practices lead to more successful clinical communication platform projects. A group of key leaders must drive the strategy, and the organization needs a healthy change management culture. It's essential to partner with a vendor that can scale, integrate and enable a complex web of operations and technology. Teams must also track the project impact and discourage employees from returning to the status quo.

To view the session on-demand, click here.

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