New CAST Case Study: Vocera Badge Improves Efficiencies in COVID-19 Care

CAST | July 20, 2020 | by Donna Childress

Hands-free technology enables care team members to communicate without removing personal protective equipment.

As the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way healthcare professionals operate, the Vocera Badge helped care team members at Hardin Memorial Health to communicate hands-free, without needing to remove personal protective equipment (PPE). A new CAST case study, “Increasing Staff Efficiencies During COVID-19 Through Communications Technology,” tells more about this groundbreaking technology and its outcomes, including a nearly 70% drop in the Left Without Being Seen (LWBS) rates at Hardin's Emergency Department. Vocera is a LeadingAge CAST Supporter.
 
In 2018, Hardin Memorial Health, in Elizabethtown, KY, doubled the square footage of its emergency department (ED), which is now one of the largest in Kentucky. Hardin also increased the number of exam rooms from 27 to 65. The expansion created a new communication challenge for clinicians, as shoulder-to-shoulder communication went away. Smartphones were not an option, because they are not conducive to a fast-paced environment like the ED.
 
Hardin selected the Vocera Badge, a wearable, hands-free device that allows care team members to quickly connect with individuals by name or role, using simple voice commands like “Call ED Charge Nurse” or “Call Respiratory Therapist.” Badge wearers also can activate specific emergency teams by saying, “Call Code Blue” or “Call STEMI Team.” The Badge closes communications gaps and can be used while wearing PPE.
 
The Badge was especially helpful when Hardin made its main hospital entrance an ED-only entrance where it separated patients with respiratory or flu-like symptoms. Clinicians in these isolation rooms could quickly and safely connect with other team members in the ED and triage entrance.
 
The Vocera Badge enables care team members to connect and collaborate in real-time, without needing to remove their PPE. This capability is an important advantage because it minimizes risk for contamination and helps preserve this valuable resource.
 
The Vocera Badge also enables care team members inside the hospital to speak with people outside the facility. When visitors were not allowed due to COVID-19, it was important to find ways to maintain the human connection for patients. There were times when a family member would call to speak with a loved one in isolation, and they were able to speak with them via the Badge while the nurse stayed in PPE.

Outcomes:

With the streamlined communication brought by the Badge, patient satisfaction scores have increased. Patients and staff at Hardin Memorial Health benefitted from these outcomes:

  • Left Without Being Seen rates dropped by 70%.
  • ED Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores related to “doctors informing patients about treatment” jumped 45%.
  • ED Top Box HCAHPS scores related to “staff caring for patients as a person” improved 12%.
  • Overall patient satisfaction scores in the ED increased by three points. 

Advice to Share with Others

Hardin Memorial Health notes that there is a time and a place for smartphones, but using them with gloves and under PPE is neither. Not having the right communication tools impedes the ability of care team members to communicate effectively and safely, which subsequently impacts patient care and safety. Hardin highly recommends empowering care teams with hands-free communication.
 
See the full case study.