Hackensack University Medical Center (HackensackUMC) was recently ranked as the number one hospital in New Jersey and one of the top 30 hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report’s 2014-15 Best Hospitals. Executives at HackensackUMC wanted to not only retain their leadership position, but also raise the bar for patient experience. They looked to Dr. Shafiq Rab, vice president and chief information officer, and his Information Technology (IT) Department to help further improve patient experiences and outcomes.
Dr. Rab’s team faced a monumental task. Jeremy Marut, director of Enterprise Architecture, HackensackUMC, said, “How can we improve patient experience and provide the highest level of care when patients’ expectations are already high?”
The team thought their challenge was similar to that faced by the hospitality industry, which supports customer experience at every step of the journey. They began to look at ways to connect patients to the hospital network at every step to wellness.
Healing increases, patient well-being increases, the patient becomes better quicker, and overall patient experience becomes phenomenal.
The team’s first opportunity arrived in a request from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). “When babies enter the NICU, the parents can’t be there with them,” said nurse manager of the NICU, Cassandra Martin-Walters. “We want to provide a solution that enables bonding between the babies and parents.”
Dr. Rab’s team explored many technologies for an affordable, secure, and easy-to-operate solution. There were many products out there, but they were not ideal because they were expensive, did not integrate with existing security, and would have required staff training. The team also explored the hospital’s own security camera system, but this option was cumbersome and required an IT staff member to operate the camera.
To eliminate training, the team explored technology that the staff was already using. They also chose to build upon their existing system because security was a given and they already depended upon it. The team developed a solution that gave nurses in the NICU “one-button power” that enabled them to share a live video of a newborn with the baby’s parents.
Arkady Geltzer, systems analyst ll, Enterprise Development and Solutions, Information Technology, HackensackUMC, attended the first implementation of their solution. A nurse rolled a table holding a tablet computer equipped with a camera to the crib in the NICU. After positioning the camera, she brought another tablet to the mother’s bedside and clicked the button so the mom could see her baby. Geltzer said, “The joy on the mom’s face was astonishing and affected everyone in the room. We all were in tears.”
This technology is so simple, so inexpensive. On all aspects of communication we are integrating Lync in our daily use. We are all connected through Lync. It’s that simple.
Patient experience definitely improved. “Even though you can’t be there, the next best thing is to be able to watch him. Are you kidding me? That’s the best thing that can happen!” said Maribel Castillo, mom and HackensackUMC patient.
The team didn’t stop there. They also enabled an audio feature so that the babies could hear the team parents’ voices. Wanting to further increase patient experience, the team asked the question: why not allow parents to share that experience with their whole families? Now parents have the option of sharing their video.
Technology drives where the business is going
Using existing technology not only delivered economic benefits, but also enabled innovation. Said Arkady Geltzer, “We need to develop solutions that will accommodate the freedom of integration so the IT Department can add their own expertise and develop functionalities that will work with the entire system.”
Technology is now seen as an innovator that drives where the business is going: providing the highest level of patient experience. Marut said, “We’ve gone from a push, where we were constantly pushing to be included in strategic planning, to a pull model, where now committees request IT to provide insights on how technology can drive their efforts in providing exceptional patient experiences.”
Following patient wellness
Dr. Rab and his team developed a mission to fully integrate technological solutions that support the best possible patient experiences throughout the entire hospital network. They envision creating technology solutions that “follow patient wellness” from home to primary care doctor to urgent care to hospital to rehab to long-term care to recovery to home—all the while providing superior patient experiences.
Dr. Rab summed up the results of his team’s efforts: “Our work is greatly valued as contributing to positive patient experiences. The IT Department is now part of strategic initiatives.”
The IT team at HackensackUMC deployed these Microsoft products: Exchange Online, Lync, Office 365, OneDrive, SharePoint, Windows 8.1, and Yammer.