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One of the country’s largest public health systems is leveraging nursing informatics to increase efficiency, connectivity, and provide essential tools in the fight to keep their communities healthy and prosperous. Serving more than one million people in a vast six-state catchment area, Banner Health applies cutting-edge information technology to improve outcomes and increase patient satisfaction.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Phoenix-based Banner is a fully integrated, not-for-profit healthcare system. Arizona’s largest employer, Banner operates 30 hospitals and 350 healthcare sites in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming, and operates its own insurance plan and network. The system, which includes an academic medicine division, also has a 55-bed simulation medical center, one of the largest “virtual hospitals” of its kind.

Developed in the 1980s, the discipline of nursing informatics is constantly evolving in healthcare and is particularly important for an organization the size and scope of Banner Health. Sherri Hess, Director of Nursing Informatics at Banner, explained: “We focus on Nursing Informatics as the science and practice of integrating nursing knowledge and information with information technology to promote outcomes. of individuals, their families and communities. We consider what these results look like and include designing the technology to support all of the areas that as a large organization we standardize. “

This standardization is essential to ensure consistent care across multiple sites. “No matter which site you visit, you will receive the same care. We have the same decision aids and the same type of command set, and that’s a big part of what we do from an IT perspective, ”she said.

“As nursing informatics, we speak two languages: nursing or the clinical part, and technology. We also understand care across the continuum, so whether it’s an outpatient site my team is involved in or a hospital or emergency care facility, we always think about the personality of our client. This character, named Sophia, is a woman in her forties with young children, parents and in-laws, she is responsible for making health care decisions. “When IT people make decisions, we think about how to make healthcare easier so that the lives of all of our Sophias are better. Our goal is to improve results in terms of quality, safety and patient satisfaction. Another major objective is to improve the efficiency of our clinical staff in order to give them more time with their patients. “

Hess’ team consists of registered nurses and a select group of master’s degree nurses certified in nursing informatics by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, as well as other specialists such as surgical technicians. “Their passion is to innovate with technology. By looking at the Gemba, the place where work is done, they are able to observe clinicians at work, ask relevant questions, and track data to understand how and why a technological solution or approach is right for them. the organization. “In any kind of technological implementation, if you don’t understand the process, don’t observe their current state, their weak points and what they need, you won’t get an improved future state,” he said. she called back.

When choosing technology partners, Hess believes honesty and understanding from a nursing perspective are critical considerations. “Right from the start, it’s important to make sure that we are partners from the start and after it goes live. Cerner CareAware Connect solutions really make a difference and we say they will. When the implementation is specific to nursing, we need to have qualified provider staff to be part of it. Both parties need to be open to listening to feedback and finding ways to work together to continually improve results.

Increase responsiveness and quality through technology

The organization recently collaborated with longtime partner and EHR provider, Cerner, and Zebra Technologies to present CareAware Connect, a portable mobile device and communications solution with a single platform to connect nurses, clinicians and all hospital departments. The initial deployment took place at the new Banner Ocotillo Medical Center in Chandler, Arizona. “We put Zebra phones in the hands of all of our employees. Most organizations are focused on their nurses or clinical staff, and I really felt it was important that everyone had the same access, ”Hess said.

“We have Cerner CareAware Connect secure text messaging so anyone who uses the Zebra phone or has downloaded the app to their home phone, such as doctors or executives, has direct access to each other in an instant. We also have a desktop version, which gives all staff several options. Feature-rich CareAware Connect enables nurses or clinicians to review and administer medications on-site. Nurses can also connect directly with the lab to review samples and arrange lab prints without having to travel or call the lab. The system’s mobile printers allow them to print lab sample labels when they are needed.

“We design the lab and print the labels on-site, reducing any errors to almost zero, and efficiency is also improved,” Hess noted. “In the past, a critical lab to be called to nurse meant playing on the phone, but now we have a much faster turnaround time. In order to improve safety, a good example is when a bed alarm notification is sent directly to the caregiver’s Zebra phone indicating that a patient is at risk of falling. This adds additional notification to healthcare teams to allow for a faster response. “

Critical notifications are sent to the appropriate staff members without disturbing or confusing patients. “Let’s say the respiratory therapist, doctor, nurse and pharmacy staff were considered part of the code blue team. The alert arrives directly on their phone. Ideally, we want to eventually remove that overhead page that causes anxiety when patients hear this. We are pushing back a lot of barriers compared to what we have always done.

Hess hopes that CareAware Connect can reduce the number of steps in some nursing care processes. “There are so many features that are really changing the way we deliver care. Our collaboration between Cerner and Zebra Technologies is truly remarkable. Patient and staff satisfaction and improved efficiency is the goal.

Nurses make operational goals a reality. “I’ve seen other organizations that may have a chief medical informatics but don’t have a chief nursing informatics,” she reflected. “It’s time for these organizations to understand that if you have an executive physician in this role, you should have that complementary nursing perspective as well. We work closely together and this really helps bring our disciplines closer together. Nurses understand the workflow and we are the eyes and ears of the patient.

“Our management team and all Banner employees have come together over the past year to really do more than we thought possible, especially during the most difficult times any of us are likely to see. never. We are committed to keeping employees safe and saving as many lives as possible. Whether it’s setting up test sites in Arizona, partnering to build our own PPE, or researching how we can reuse PPE, we’ve all come together and worked with our elected officials in every state for us. make sure we are doing the right things, ”she said. . “I have never been more proud to be in an organization than at Banner. A lot of this is due to the management team who set expectations for all of us. “

Arizona-based Banner Health is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit healthcare systems. The system owns and operates 30 acute care hospitals, Banner Health Network, Banner – University Medicine, academic and salaried physician groups, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and a range of other services; including Banner Urgent Care, family clinics, home and hospice care services, pharmacies and a nursing registry. Banner Health is present in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.

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