Unified communications for fast and effective healthcare services [5:11]
The leaders of Virtua, the largest healthcare system in Southern New Jersey, recently undertook a strategic makeover of its information technology infrastructure.
The goal was to ensure every aspect of Virtua's IT supports its mission.
"The mission of Virtua is really simple.
It is the blade to deliver an outstanding patient experience with the highest quality of care delivered by the best professionals and employees that one could ever have."
Its mission may be simple, but Virtua is a fast growing, complex organization with more 8,400 employees at 62 locations in three counties, including four hospitals, two nursing homes, two ambulatory care centers and 19 sites where physicians provide services.
Technology plays an increasingly important role at Virtua.
Nearly every aspect of running its buildings, back office functions and healthcare delivery involves technology.
As part of its IT makeover, Virtua built two new data centers to run approximately 250 software applications.
Virtua also made sizable investments in various clinical systems, including a large electronic medical record system.
"Our systems run across a very, very large wide area network.
Multiple systems are integrated.
So, we have a very powerful interface engine.
And through that interface engine flow approximately 240 interfaces that help exchange data between various systems."
Another focus was around unified communications.
Virtua's leaders see communications as the glue that holds everything together.
NEC, a long-time trusted advisor, helped Virtua design and integrate into its IT infrastructure a robust unified communications system that will meet ongoing needs for flexibility, scalability and management.
Communication is extremely important in day-to-day operations, of the hospital among clinicians.
By clinicians I mean nurses, doctors, radiologists and other allied health professionals.
Those are the folks that deliver the bedside care and they really need nearly instantaneous communication with each other.
We provide them the care, but NEC along with our other partners have been able to provide us with the support necessary to allow us to do the right thing by the patients.
And, we are banking on that system not only to support every day communications, but how we integrate that with our data systems.
So, we are looking at integrating voice data, as well as traditional information data.
A couple of things led us to select NEC as our UC partner.
One thing that is very important for us is that we can work with a particular technology vendor – what is the quality of their sales staff, what is the quality of their technical staff, do we feel as though we can work with their staff, their employees for the long term, because it is a long-term relationship…
…We also liked the feature functions of the actual UC software and the various things it can do for our call centers, our attendant-type positions and also the integration that we are embarking on with other clinical applications.
One of the benefits of enhanced communications for Virtua is the ability to provide real time data to the patient in a way that supports safe and effective care.
If the nurse is at the bedside and they want to see whether or not they should give this particular med based on what the patient's lab results may be for that day, they can pull it up immediately.
There is no delay to wait.
Everything is at their fingertips, access is right there, so it kind of closes the loop for the patient care.
The Virtua IT team has also seen benefits from the UC implementation.
I think first and foremost from the IT perspective, it has made our job easier.
I think over time as we incorporate the third major phase, which is really the integration with the clinical systems, we'll see even more benefits around notifications and so forth that can be communicated through the phone system.
Virtua looks at technology as the fundamental integrator and enabler of its service capabilities.
Thanks to its UC makeover, Virtua gets diagnostic results to the physician faster, who gets them to the patient faster, which gets the patient to better health faster.
The end result is outstanding patient care.
An organization can have the best strategy, the best processes, they can have the best people, but if they do not communicate data and convert data into information for great utility, nothing happens.