HOSPITAL COLORED-CODES COMMUNICATED WITH PERFECT TIMING
Getting the right information to 7,500 staff, located across a number of hospital and primary care buildings, calls for precise project management and nerves of steel. It's one of the reasons why many medical centers have introduced a color-coded notification system in place to aid good internal communications.
For a large medical facility in America’s mid-east, they’ve introduced a highly effective method to communicate such codes – and much more.
Critical organizational messages and unexpected events - such as an approaching severe weather front; a sudden increase in patients; or a scheduled event - such as an IT system upgrade; or an upcoming town hall meeting - require careful co-ordination and targeted distribution. And most importantly, must be read.KEY CHALLENGES
Efficient internal communication is always a challenge in a fast-paced, unpredictable environment like a hospital: not every employee has a computer, many work shifts, and they are often away from their desk.
There’s a requirement to keep noise levels to a minimum. Plus there's always the added peril of the unexpected happening at any time.
While email is used for some messages, the hospital spokesperson says this channel is not suitable for important, time-sensitive content. “Email is an over-used channel with no guarantee when staff get to it,” they explain.
“Most of what we send out is operational, but with a sense of urgency or high priority. If an IT system is going to be offline for a while, which may affect staff doing their job, then they must know in advance.”
On the rare occasion of an emergency situation developing, employees require status updates and critical information, otherwise they potentially put themselves or their patients at risk - a primary concern for every public service facility.
With this in mind, the hospital sought a real-time communication solution that would bypass email, be quick to activate if needed, and be effective at message cut-through.
The popular desktop alert displays as a pop-up message window, straight onto staff computer screens.
It has the option of ‘read now’ or ‘read later’, and capacity to carry images, text and hyperlinks – a useful feature for directing staff to further information.
In the case of an extreme emergency or important notification, the alert can be set to take over the entire real estate of a screen.
Similarly, the scrolling ticker (also known as newsfeeds) can be set to remain on screen until clicked; to keep notifying even when read; and recur at scheduled intervals – an important feature for any environment where multiple users access a single computer terminal.
The ticker tool displays as a moving ribbon of text across the bottom of employees’ screens. Its concise format is perfect for bite size chunks of information, without interfering with the employee’s main application open on screen.
The locally-installed solution has a polling frequency of 60 seconds. This means that the installed SnapComms client software polls the server checking for new content every minute allowing new content to be displayed to end devices quickly (note: this frequency can be altered in on-premise environments to suit needs and network capacity).
Both tools are ideal for a medical environment, where Press Ganey Quiet Scores are monitored and assessed as per HCAHPS star rating (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems).
SNAPCOMMS TOOLS IMPLEMENTED
Like most hospitals, this facility has several codes for communication purposes. For example: code yellow = large influx of patients; code red = fire; code silver = active shooter; and code black = severe weather (such as a tornado, a recurring threat in this part of the States).
This hospital has a series of pre-defined colored desktop alerts and tickers to match these codes, ready to publish within seconds.
One of the most commonly used is code purple i.e. IT system alert, says the spokesperson: “We have regular, scheduled ‘change windows’ whereby an application is either being retired or upgraded.
“To make sure affected staff are aware of these IT events, we roll out a series of message via tickers. These give basic details of what’s happening and when, and if necessary, points people to other places for more details – such as the Intranet.
“Closer to the time, we’ll introduce a pop up alert to emphasise the importance of the message.”
These unmissable assets are great for countdown-style messages, and requesting employees to take action i.e. read now or close window. They can be easily customized to suit branding requirements and message, as well as the option for animation. The success reports also reveal who has or hasn’t opened the message, facilitating message follow-up.
It’s been more than four years since the hospital started using SnapComms internal communications software.
“These tools have become ingrained in our culture,” they say. “We can’t imagine how we’d communicate urgent issues without them!”
“We feel their effect immediately. For example, if there’s an unforeseen IT issue, Service Desk’s phone queue runs deep straight away! But once we publish an explanatory alert - which we know reaches every monitor on site - the ‘phones return to normal immediately.”
This saves the center significant time and resource in responding to multiple tickets about the same issue.
They conclude, “We’ve developed a close relationship with the SnapComms team, who has been exceptional in meeting our template customization, technical support and customer service requirements.
“The SnapComms platform is a reliable, powerful system designed for intensive, must-see communications. For us, it’s that and more.”