Hospital harnesses Connexall’s solutions to re-imagine healthcare delivery
June 29, 2021
Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) is showing that community hospitals can be as innovative as their larger peers when it comes to deploying electronic solutions. Its ‘smart hospital’ strategy, launched five years ago, demonstrates that investments in digital technologies lead to faster, more effective care and higher levels of patient satisfaction.
MSH provides care at three locations for over 435,000 patients each year. It has 526 physicians and 2,400 staff, and it is located in a fast-growing part of Ontario, just northeast of Toronto.
When the MSH team first started exploring technology opportunities, the hospital had just completed an expansion of its clinical in-patient units, recalls Elena Pacheco, Vice-President of Planning and Transformation at MSH.
“Our vision really came to life when we started doing rounds on the clinical units and hearing how much further nurses had to walk, and how they felt disconnected from some of the patients due to the larger footprint,” she said. “We knew if we could connect them to a mobile device where they could check in with their patients, and get alerts, rather than going to a central station, it would be a win-win for patients and staff.” This required a solution that would not only be mobile enabled but would also have extensive integrations across many hospital systems.
In 2016 MSH launched its Office of Innovation to build on these kinds of ideas and partnered with clinical communications solution provider Connexall to help put them into practice.
Connexall’s end-to-end integration and communication platform, and its suite of digital transformation solutions, help hospitals around the world to improve quality of care, patient experience, and staff satisfaction. With a successful history of innovation, Connexall works closely with its enterprise customers to deliver the promise of a truly Connected Hospital.
“Connexall is helping us to optimize clinical feedback and improve our patient experience through system integration,” said Ashif Kassam, the hospital’s Senior Consultant, Transformation PMO. With the ability to transmit patient and resource information from a range of systems, old and new, to handheld devices, MSH staff and clinicians can acquire key and critical data while on the go.
Connecting nurses across the board: Kassam said that providing mobile tools to nurses on the floor, for example, enhances overall collaboration as it allows them to easily connect with patients, colleagues, other units in the hospital, along with clinical specialists and porters as needed (porters use the solution to speed up transport and improve patient flow). “If there is a lab result for a patient ready from another unit, that call can go directly to the attending nurse,” he said. “Or calls from family members of admitted patients can be forwarded to the nurse to provide a quick update.”
The fact that patients’ requests go directly to the nurses caring for them also means less disruption via overhead paging systems and faster response times. During the pilot period, Kassam said analysis showed a 45 percent reduction in response times. “Recent findings are also starting to show a trend down for [patient] falls on the units, which can be presumed to be due to quicker response times to patient needs and requests,” he added.
“It’s no longer about hovering over the nursing station as the busiest place in the hospital,” said Yihan Zhang, Director of Solutions Innovation, Workflow and Design at Connexall.
“Everyone is mobile, and we’re providing mobile devices and applications so they can receive requests from patients directly to their phones and communicate with other clinicians.”
MSH’s use of mobile registration is another example of ‘smart’ technology that is improving hospital processes, allowing patients to pre-register for hospital appointments from the comfort of home. “It’s like an airline check-in where they come in and can go straight to their location,” said Kassam. Not only has digitizing this process helped to reduce no-show rates for hospital visits, but it has eliminated the time needed to register in-person with a hospital clerk.
Real-time applications coming to MSH include the ability to silence alarm notifications from a patient monitor if a nurse is already in the room to minimize disruptions. As part of its Connected Hospital portfolio, Connexall has deployed this patented solution to hospitals. This has helped their clients reduce over 50 percent of secondary alarms to clinicians’ devices, contributing to decreased alarm fatigue on staff and improved patient care.
Other projects include wireless bed-exit alerts and Code Blue notifications, along with mobile telemetry, including cardiac patient monitors.
Enhancing healthcare for the long-term: In looking at what’s ahead for MSH, Chief Technology and Privacy Officer Michael Cole points to the fact that theirs is a long-term strategy that will ultimately enable a continuum of care across the hospital’s two sites and within the Eastern York Region North Durham Ontario Health Team.
“I think it’s about finding a balance in your investments, both from a capital and operating perspective, to not only meet hospital needs but to put an emphasis on the patient,” he said. “It should be a seamless experience all the way through from primary care to hospital discharge.”
He said it’s also important to recognize that when it comes to technology, what may be a gold standard today quickly becomes just the standard, so ongoing innovation is key.
“We’ve built a team where we’re ready to provide front-line care with tools and services required, but also have the ability to innovate, to be able to grow and find those successes,” Cole said.
To that end, Connexall’s Senior Vice-President of Innovation, Analytics and CIO, Sandy Saggar, said MSH is “doing the right thing” in implementing end-to-end connected digital solutions in the hospital that will take them into the future. Connexall’s open vendor-neutral platform allows for hospital systems to gain immediate value today and in the future as they continue to evolve their clinical and technology-related systems and priorities.
“Our Connected Hospital strategy takes a holistic approach to advancing our customers’ digital transformation roadmap. When you start to look at an organization’s overall workflows and enabling systems and marry that with the Connexall solution suite, you can enable new and innovative practices” said Saggar, who was previously CIO at Halton Healthcare, a technologically advanced organization with three hospitals located west of Toronto. “They have the foundational pieces already in place that they can keep building upon.”
He said MSH has another advantage in being an enterprise partner with Connexall, which gives them full access to the library of Connected Hospital solutions and integrations with nurse call systems, biomedical equipment, EMRs, RTLS systems, building, security systems and more. “This enables MSH to innovate more effectively, improving safety, quality, and staff and patient experiences,” said Saggar.
Cole points to the fact that in the aftermath of pandemic living, patients want innovation now more than ever – whether that means more virtual care from home or more efficient in-hospital visits.
In fact, he said 30 percent of all out-patient hospital visits at MSH between March 2020 and March 2021 happened virtually. “There was previously the idea that aging communities don’t want new tools and services.”
Now, Cole noted, it has become an expectation that all demographics want these innovative and remote services. “If we don’t meet that expectation, we’re failing,” he said. “Using technology, we can make people’s lives easier.”
“We are giving people options to interact with the hospital and their care in a way that they’re satisfied with,” added Kassam. “I think that technology will touch them in different ways as we evolve our smart hospital care.”
According to Saggar and Zhang, Connexall understands that patients are looking for more innovation to support their healthcare needs. Saggar said, “Our solutions roadmap and collaboration with customers is where we will continue to bring innovation to the frontline of patient care.”