Saint Peter’s University Hospital, located in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is a 478-bed teaching hospital and part of the Saint Peter’s Health Partners group. This group was recently formed through the merger of five different hospitals and a long-term-care facility.
George Zimmerman is Manager of Web Services for the Saint Peter's Health Partners group. The Web Services team manages all web-based applications across more than 8,000 desktop PCs and 72 different web servers.
The recent merger of five hospitals and a long-term-care facility has placed an additional challenge on the shoulders of communicators. With 155 sites now, Saint Peter’s Health Partners needs to reach staff based in remote locations.
The Web Services team has previously been reliant on email and the home page of the intranet for getting messages across. The issue with email was that hospital staff are not always able to check their emails. As Zimmerman was finding, "Out on the clinical floor their in-box is not open all the time. So the communication is lost."
SnapComms Desktop Alerts were introduced at Saint Peter’s Hospital to communicate critical clinical information system outages — both scheduled and unplanned. As the group moved increasingly into electronic medical records (EMR), there needed to be a guaranteed way of reaching all users in the event of an outage.
Zimmerman explains, “The importance of those EMR systems being online all the time is critical. The second they are down we are challenged with [the question of] how do we communicate that to every single desktop at the nurse unit.”
Desktop alerts are designed for high visibility and maximum impact, getting employee attention whether via desktop, mobile or digital signage.
The SnapComms desktop alerts have been implemented across all computers in the cancer care, cardiology, dietary, hospice, information services, laboratory, pharmacy and radiology departments at Saint Peter’s Hospital.
However, the biggest area in which it is used is in clinical informatics, where nursing staff and physicians need to be most urgently kept updated. There the software has been installed on all nursing unit desktops, laptops and portable units, known as workstations on wheels (WOWs).
The hospital has three levels of IT incident. A Priority 1 (P1) is where the information system is down and impacts all users; Priority 2 is where the system is not functioning as normal and impacts many users; Priority 3 is not patient-care critical.
SnapComms is used to communicate unplanned P1 and P2 situations, such as the patient registration process being down, as well as the scheduled downtime (usually monthly maintenance) of patient-care systems.
The Web Services team selected dedicated administrators in each area of the organization, who were given access and trained to build reports and distribute messages using the SnapComms software. By training administrators in each area and giving them the tools and the authority, it has taken the dependence on sending messages away from the already-busy IT department.
Zimmerman has easily been able to provide usage and readership statistics to Saint Peter’s Chief Information Officer when requested.