Hospital Notification Upgrade Reduces Errors

WICHITA FALLS, Texas — To enable its staff to function as a productive, coordinated, and highly responsive team, United Regional Health Care System turned to Omnilert, maker of Amerilert uAlert. The hospital’s goal was to work with Omnilert to create a mass notification system that would deliver messages to designated staff members, over their own cell phones, quickly, efficiently, and at a reasonable cost.

The challenge was to notify the hospital’s large and widely dispersed workforce. United Regional requires a notification system that’s sophisticated enough to selectively alert only the people that must be reached without sacrificing either usability or speed.

As they investigated various notification approaches and technologies, United Regional’s administrators understood that alerts that arrive too late are inaccurate. Messages directed to the wrong individuals really aren’t any better than notifications that were never sent at all. Most importantly, the administrators knew that they needed to replace their existing “pyramid” notification system, a voice-oriented setup that was based on paper lists and depended on calling responsibilities being passed down the chain of command.

Jacky Betts, United Regional’s director of trauma and hospital preparedness, recalls the way notifications were handled before the new notification system’s arrival.

“The CEO would get the [alert] and call the vice presidents; the vice presidents [then] called the directors; the directors called the managers; the managers then in turn called every employee in their department.”

The method was time consuming and error prone. “If you didn’t get a hold of [any] one of those people, then you missed a whole group of people that were to respond,” Betts says.“That meant the managers had to find another way to contact them,” Betts added.

United Regional now relies on the new Omnilert mass notification system to get the word out to physicians, nurses, and other essential healthcare personnel as soon as any emergency arises. The self-service, cloud-based system provides a centralized interface that instantly and simultaneously sends advisories to thousands of personnel anywhere, anytime, on any device (cell phones, PA systems, Web pages, display boards, and Web tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and more).

Although United Regional hasn’t yet needed to use it during an actual emergency, Betts is confident that the system is completely ready to communicate essential reporting information to key personnel within a matter of minutes, allowing the system to quickly gear up its preparedness status in response to a calamity of any size.

“It’s extremely quick,” Betts observes. “You put in your message, post it, and immediately get the text on the phone.”

Emergencies aside, United Regional already uses it for routine management tasks, such as keeping its departments fully staffed and functioning at peak operational efficiency levels.

“Let’s say a medical/surgical unit had two nurses that weren’t able to make it in —they call in sick and we need to fill those two positions,” Betts says.

Before, a supervisor might have to call any number of nurses before finding two replacements. With Amerilert, a text message stating the need for two shift replacements is sent in a matter of seconds to all off-duty nurses assigned to the unit.

“[The supervisor] can put in: ‘Need to fill a shift on Monday, January 2, from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, can you work?’” Betts says.

The approach makes finding replacements as easy a typing in a message and waiting for the replies.

The new notification system also helps United Regional alert executives and managers to various types of important yet non-critical situations that require immediate attention.

“You put in one message, hit send, and the 120-some leaders we have in our organization are automatically notified about what they need to do,” Betts says. “It’s worked very effectively for that.”

Betts says the new notification system provides a great value. “We pay somewhere around $10,000 a year,” he observes. “Some people would view that as extremely expensive, but for us and what it does for our organization we’re extremely happy with the price we’re paying and the product that we get.”

The new notification system can be relied on to always get the word out to target recipients.

“[It’s] extremely effective in reaching the employees,” Betts says. “It’s very easy for them,” he adds. “They get a text message that tells them what to do and when. They don’t have to call anyone; they can just respond or do whatever is necessary.”

Betts also appreciates the notification system’s dependability.

“We’ve never had an issue with reliability,” he says. “Every time we’ve ever needed to use the system, it was up, ready to be used.”

He also likes it’s virtually maintenance-free platform and the minimal training requirements for both administrators and end users. “It’s very easy to use,” he says. He also gives high marks for its support team, which he describes as “very effective” and “ready to do whatever needs to be done.”

Read the full press release.

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