The familiar sight of a doctor with a pager is becoming a thing of the past. The Vocera Collaboration Suite includes a web-paging console that is easily used from workstations, allowing users to send secure messages to those who have the Vocera Smartphone mobile app.

“It has the capability to fundamentally change the way we communicate with each other,” said Kenneth Silverstein, M.D., MBA, chief clinical officer. “Physicians and other providers can securely text each other.”

It’s a vast improvement over paging, which provided one-way communication. Vocera allows for both one-on-one and group conversations. Users also can see whether their messages have been read.

“It’s a clean, fresh look that looks like a true text-messaging system and also is easier to navigate,” said Virginia Collier, M.D., Hugh R. Sharp Jr. Chair of Medicine. “And it ensures that messages get to the right people with on-call schedules, on-call distribution lists and escalation distribution lists.

Because it is secure, Vocera is HIPAA-compliant, another advantage over traditional text messaging, in which clinicians could not share patients’ names, dates of birth and other information.

Photographs can be securely texted, as well, Dr. Collier notes. “A picture of a rash might be texted to a dermatologist, for example.”

The system also offers groups the ability to enter on-call schedules. There are built-in escalation features that respond to the availability of users. Plus, users know that a message has been delivered, a feature that wasn’t available through paging.

Ultimately, secure, speedy communication enhances patient safety, while reducing costs. Studies by the Joint Commission indicate that about 70 percent of serious injuries or accidental deaths in hospitals are linked to gaps in communication. A study at the University of Maryland estimates that inefficient or ineffective communication adds $12 billion a year to health care costs in the U.S.

It’s a flexible system that allows users to activate such functions as overriding scheduling in order to contact a clinician in an emergency.

“You also can put yourself on Do Not Disturb when you are with a patient or otherwise unavailable,” said Lonie Sculley, IT Project Manager. “And if you forget to take yourself off Do Not Disturb, Vocera will remind you.”

Employees who have a need for internal paging/messaging-only while on a Christiana Care campus will receive a leased iOS6-WiFi-enabled phone.  Employees who require paging/messaging while off campus will be expected to run the Vocera mobile app on their personal smartphone.

Approximately 400 pagers were replaced with a Christiana Care WiFi-only phone with the Vocera and Capacity Management mobile apps installed as the new bed management system was rolled out in March 2016.

Departments are identifying onboarding champions who will assist with planning meetings and coordinate with the IT team to implement Vocera secured messaging.  Users can expect lots of help. There will be on-site kiosks for training, staffed with an educator and troubleshooters.

For more information, contact Lonie Sculley, IT Project Manager for the Vocera rollout.