The growing number of surgical procedures performed at a not-for-profit healthcare corporation serving patients throughout central Illinois was placing a significant strain on surgery center staff responsible for keeping waiting companions informed of their loved ones’ status. Increasingly, professional staff members were being tasked with tracking down patient companions in order to summons them back to the waiting room for a physician’s report. The surgery center needed a cost-effective messaging system that could reduce dependence on staff, speed direct communication to waiting family members, and do so without pagers or other hardware-based systems.
The corporation purchased Mutare’s Vital Link messaging platform with the Surgery Status extension in July, 2014. Using existing Wi-Fi and cellular networks, Vital Link Surgery Status provides secure, 2-way communication between the nurse liaison and patient companions from their existing mobile devices.
As part of admissions, patients have the opportunity to register their companion’s cellular number into the surgery Waiting application. Working from a tablet or PC, the nurse liaison tracks all active patients on the Vital Link dashboard and delivers regular status updates to their companions. The system allows for pre-loaded updates or individualized text messages, letting waiting companions know how surgery is progressing and when to return to the waiting room for the physician’s report. If the companion’s device does not enable text messaging, the system converts the text message to speech and delivers it in a phone call. At discharge, the system can continue to provide next day or even next week follow-up reminders to patients and their caregivers per doctor instructions.
The Surgery Status application allows patient companions to move freely throughout the hospital and use other amenities such as the cafeteria, outdoor areas, restrooms, and gift shops without worrying that they might be out of touch during the procedure. Regular status updates delivered to their mobile devices relieves the stress of waiting and supports a more engaging overall experience. Additionally, the system maximizes the use of professional nursing staff, reduces disruptions from anxious family members requesting information, and eliminates time spent tracking and delivering companions to the waiting room. The result is improved operational efficiency for the surgery center, greater patient satisfaction, and a measurable ROI for the Vital Link implementation.