Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Vancouver Island HA improves clinical efficiency with Vocera smartphone app

William Payne
January 18, 2017
Canadian health care provider Vancouver Island Health Authority (Island Health) has selected San Jose based healthcare communications firm Vocera Communications to provide its Vocera Communication Platform for secure text messaging, voice communication and alerts. Research by the health authority showed that using the Vocera smartphone health app improved doctors' response times by 45 percent. Moreover, doctors reported a fall in interruptions of patient care by 58 percent through using the smartphone app.

Island Health chose the Vocera smartphone solution after collaborative research conducted by the authority's pharmacy department and its information technology department showed the mobile application reduced interruptions to patient care and significantly improved clinical communication, work-flow and doctor response time.

The three month study involved 161 hospitalists, obstetricians, intensivists, pharmacists and switchboard operators from three Canadian hospitals in Victoria and Campbell River in British Columbia. Participants sent and received messages and alerts using the Vocera secure app on their smartphone, instead of sending and receiving information through traditional paging. Intensive care unit (ICU) nurses and ICU clerks used the application via a web console on their computer. During the pilot, 3,808 alerts and 5,691 secure text messages were sent and received with the Vocera solution.

“The primary outcome was the difference in response times before and after implementing the Vocera smartphone solution,” said Dr. Sean Spina, pharmacy clinical coordinator. “Our study showed that physicians responded faster when using the secure texting app compared to traditional pagers. Physicians also found the app reduced interruptions to patient care. It also enabled them to prioritize calls, messages, texts and alerts faster and easier using one device.”

Island Health employs more than 18,000 staff members to provide healthcare and support services to the people in the Island Health region.

Prior to piloting the Vocera mobile solution, clinicians received traditional pages with only a call-back number. There was no context about patient events or urgency of pages. By using the smartphone app, clinicians sent and received secure contextual information that enabled them to triage alerts and respond with the right information instantly. The active directory within the application also made it easier for clinicians to connect by simply selecting the name or role of their colleague on a patient case.

Research showed that when the Vocera solution was used for routine alerts, the average physician response time improved from 5.5 minutes to 3 minutes. In addition, the number of physicians reporting interruptions in patient care fell from 77 to 32 percent. Many physicians and pharmacists reported that the Vocera smartphone application improved the timeliness and safety of patient care. Proven results and favorable responses by care teams helped drive the pilot program to an enterprise communication strategy.

“The healthcare ecosystem is complex, and with so many factors in play, predicting how new innovations will impact quality, provider experience and, ultimately, health outcomes can be challenging. Clinical health technology research like that conducted by Dr. Spina and his team provides an objective evidence-base for decision making that’s grounded in real-world clinical practice. That is invaluable for cutting through the hype and helping ensure our technology investments deliver the intended benefits for patients, providers and the system overall,” said Graham Payette, corporate director of enterprise architecture and quality engineering at Island Health.

“Island Health is an innovative healthcare system clearly dedicated to delivering the best possible care to their patients and empowering care teams with the right technology to make their jobs and the healthcare experience better,” said Brent Lang, president and CEO of Vocera. “I’m impressed by how Island Health put science behind their technology decision. The research underscores the significant impact that the Vocera Communication Platform has on care team collaboration, workflow efficiency, and patient care delivery.”

Other Canadian health care organisations to select the Vocera solution include Niagara Health System, Providence Care, Toronto Grace Health Centre, Saskatoon Children’s Hospital, Saskatchewan Hospital and Selkirk Hospital. Implementations at these organisations are underway or set to start in early 2017.