Timely and accurate communications used to be a big headache for Texas Institute for Surgery (TIS). Like many of its peers, getting important information seen by all staff, particularly if an unexpected event happened, wasn’t easy.
For the Dallas-based facility, based in the heart of Tornado Alley, these unexpected moments comprised of weather events, spam email threats and even a case of a nearby active shooter.
With patient care of paramount importance, TIS’ management - and specifically the Chief of Compliance Officer - wanted a better way to ensure critical messages were seen by staff.
They felt increasing dissatisfaction with its existing approach to communication which had largely relied upon email and overhead announcements.
Hospital environments pose unique communication challenges. Clinical staff are rarely deskbound: they’re more likely to be in theatre, completing ward rounds, undertaking patient consultations, or in meetings.
Similarly, housekeeping crews and operational staff are on the move all day, with limited opportunities to access a computer. Jason Adams, Director of Information Technology at TIS, says: “Most staff do not have time to trawl through a load of emails and figure out what’s important or not. “If they’re in theatre, with their scrubs on, you can’t expect them to enter a password, and check emails to read an urgent message.”
Overhead announcements were highly intrusive – for staff and patients alike – and not always effective, particularly if staff were out of earshot.
TIS selected a range of SnapComms tools across the communication spectrum – from highly intrusive to more passive formats. These include pop-up alert notifications, on-screen tickers, survey, quiz, newsletter, screensaver and wallpaper.
Each of these channels meet a specific communication need. For example, SnapComms Alerts are the most impactful of all channels: they land straight onto the employee’s screen – mobile and desktop - bypassing email completely.
Adams says these are by far the most popular tool for urgent or important mass communications, and his first choice for publishing color-coded hospital alerts.
At the other end of the scale are passively-consumed channels - such as screensaver and wallpaper. These are perfect for driving reminder messages, and reinforcing positive behavior.
Given that most employees are equipped with mobiles, pushing content directly to these devices solved the problem of reaching those not sitting at a desk.
At the same time, leveraging the highly visible desktop screens, often shared by staff, presented an eye-catching way to broadcast important messages.
Initially, TIS selected SnapComms to send compliance-related campaigns. “These will be focused on education – for example patient privacy – and will include excerpts from our compliance policies.
“The SnapComms channels are ideal for sending bitesize pieces of related content, published as a campaign over time,” says Adams.
While this project rolls out in the next 12 months, so impressed with the high impact of the channels, TIS has extended the use of SnapComms to other departments – with governance guidelines in place.
“What started out as a solution exclusively for publishing compliance topics has expanded into much wider usage.
The channels are extremely effective at getting messages in front of all staff,” says Adams, “although we only send Alerts for significant and valuable messages.
"Staff know this too, so it helps them prioritize what’s important.”
Adams says, “I’ve worked in hospitals for more than 25 years. Communicating promptly and accurately to a large employee base has always been a challenge – from both a clinical and IT perspective. “With SnapComms, we’ve successfully bridged that gap. We’ve solved the challenge of mass communications.”
An unexpected benefit that his team sees with using SnapComms is time saved: “The platform is very user-friendly which means the IT team do not have to get involved with setting up, producing and publishing content.
"We’ve trained those staff who need to communicate internally so they can launch a message without our intervention. It’s been a major timesaver for us."
He adds, “We can now communicate quickly, clearly and accurately. Everyone sees the SnapComms Alert at the same time. There can be no misinterpretation of message, or risk of people missing it - which is so often the case with email.
“You just can’t ignore a SnapComms Alert or Ticker the same way you can an email,” adds Adams.
“It does exactly what we bought it do – and more!”