Poor communication can be the heart of trouble at any organization, but it can be a matter of life or death for cardiac patients being rushed to a hospital. Utilizing spreadsheets is common practice for relaying condition status in medical settings, but the method can lead to inconsistency, which is what prompted Northeast Georgia Medical Center regional STEMI coordinator and paramedic Jason Grady to seek a better tool.
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Mending broken organization methods
Up to that point, information on patients was transmitted verbally on mobile devices and logged into spreadsheets. Cardiologists have to make decisions quickly, but that can be a tricky order to fulfill, given that patient data needs to be specifically tracked and analyzed.
Cardiac Unit Registered Nurse Jeff Clark and Grady sought a product that would work across platforms and would allow first responders administering patient care to accurately convey vital information. The duo outlined the following criteria:
- Strong mobile capabilities
- Cloud-based functionality
- High-level security
- Easy to use
Mobile capabilities were particularly important because cardiologists mentioned their desire and need to access information at any given time and location.
At a monthly meeting, Grady and Clark presented potential collaboration and project management tools to their colleagues. Approximately six or seven people, including the compliance department, delved into the details of product offerings to determine which would best suit the needs of a hospital.
Prescribing the right project management tool
While there are several project management tools on the market, Google Forms caught the pair's eyes because it was customizable. "Google Forms works well because you can take that [information] and put in the exact fields to questions that you want answered," Grady said. Despite the flexibility and ease of use, the tool fell short in the hospital's stringent security measures to be HIPPA compliant. "It was a deal breaker for us," Grady said.
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Clark and Grady ultimately settled on Smartsheet because the tool met security requirements and could be used on mobile devices, according to Clark. Being able to easily edit content, rather than stick with rigid templates, was another deciding factor.
While Clark and Grady are used to working with advanced medical equipment, neither considers himself an IT professional. The pair's lack of tech savvy didn't hinder the implementation. Clark said he did a lot of the initial footwork, but collaborated with Grady to build the form and get the wireless connection cleared through the IT department. In essence, that was the only time the hospital's IT crew's expertise was needed.
Thriving and collaborating
There are now two iPad kiosks, one in the control room for EMS staff to do reports on and another in the main treatment area. All medical staff have to do is tap the screen, use drop-down menus, and answer "yes" or "no" questions. "We wanted it to feel like having an iPad on a desk," Grady said. "We were banking on that curiosity to get better compliance."
Otherwise, there have been only minor barriers, the first being that the iPad became unplugged. The second hiccup involved a bit more legwork to solve. Some of the data entry fields weren't long enough for the hospital's needs, but Smartsheet was already working on solving that problem.
Overall, Grady and Clark are pleased with their project management tool selection, especially since it has proven to evolve with the hospital's needs. "We've made some modifications to the form over time based on cardiologists getting information they wanted," Grady said.
About the author:
Maxine Giza is the associate site editor for SearchSOA and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.