6 Keys to Connected Care from Yale New Haven Health

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Connected Care Technology: Creating an Optimal Patient Care Environment

Maggie Walder, PMP, Healthcare Operations Manager at Burwood Group: The Neonatal Unit was approved to move from their current unit environment, which was comprised of, just a few multi-patient bay rooms to newly constructed private patient rooms, spanning across two floors. Burwood Group was asked to come in and complete an assessment of the Clinical Communication environment. Looking to see if their existing fleet of communication tools would be able to effectively support the new communication needs in the new unit.

Melissa Baker, Senior Healthcare Consultant at Burwood Group: The NNICU Leadership turned to Burwood Group because we knew that a cookie cutter design would not fit. Nor could we take any shortcuts developing the overall design.

Recommending a Connected Care Environment

The recommendation to address those gaps were three-fold. First to implement an Enhanced Nurse Call System. Secondly, to integrate that system with an Alert, an Alarm Management Software. And third, integrate those two systems with a Mobile Communication Device, to be placed in the hand of every caregiver. These new tools would essentially create new communication pathways for patients and families and caregivers to connect more directly with one another.

Connected Care Solutions

After establishing that baseline communication, what we did was develop some facilitated workshops around, fiddly around those three key areas, that the design team and nurses were more concerned about. How do I stay connected and communicate with my fellow caregivers and support staff? How do I stay connected with my family members? And most importantly, how do I stay connected with my patients? Given private rooms and care provided across two units.

Carrie Ryan, M.A., T.D., Practice Manager & Transformation and Adaption at Burwood Group: We had to create an integrated caregiver experience. A training program that tied all the technologies, workflow and process, into one seamless training event. Our mission, was to build their confidence in the tools we were putting in their hands. All so that they knew, that they could deliver exceptional care.

Working alongside this dedicated team, I mean, truly, it was humbling. Every decision, every, you know thought process centered on, improving or ensuring we weren’t taking anything away from caring from these, littlest of patients.

Connected Care Health Services

I had the privilege of working with one of the very first Neo Natal Intensive Care Units in this country. I got to help influence and support these individuals and save babies lives. Doing the work that I love to do, which is creating transformative learning experiences.

The last day that we were on site, providing go life support, we were able to talk to one of the nurses. And she pointed to her patient, the baby she was caring for, and told us that in the previous unit, that baby had been very fussy and was very over stimulated by the noise and the chaos in those multi-patient bay rooms. And we looked over, and the baby was sleeping. And the baby had been sleeping all day.

Today’s connected care technologies can improve clinical quality and patient satisfaction, and generate actionable intelligence. That potential is exactly what inspired the forward-looking team at Yale New Haven Health (YNHH) to transform its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit from a dense nursery into a spacious, connected care environment.

What did it take for them to achieve these goals? In a word, partnership.

Lessons learned along the way

As leader of the Burwood team that collaborated with YNHH, I was privileged to see first-hand how YNHH tackled the challenges of adopting a new work environment and new ways of working. Following are key lessons learned along the way

  1. Listen first. Early in the game, we surveyed the NNICU caregivers to understand their perspective on the project. The survey revealed caregivers’ fear that reconfiguring the NNICU into private rooms on two floors would disrupt or impair their ability to quickly respond to their tiny patients in need. They wanted to know how they could stay connected with fellow caregivers, support staff, family members, and, most important, with their patients.

    We helped the caregivers envision real-life scenarios and how their future environment would function. With a listen-first approach, we were able to win buy-in for an implementation strategy that would improve clinical communication and alarm management.

  2. Lay out a strong vision, with the right team to help carry the torch. YNHH incorporated nurses full-time into the design, testing and training of the new communications systems. As full-time project team members, the nurses could focus on the new system design and planning without the stress of juggling a clinical workload. Aligning with partners on the care team throughout the process helped the design team focus on a case-driven workflow and articulate a vision and implementation plan that resonates with all stakeholders.

  3. Test, test, test. End-to-end testing is a must to ensure not only that the communications system works, but that it works without disrupting patient care.

  4. Don’t settle for one-size-fits-all functionality. Get creative and push vendors for additional functionality and integration of the technology to support the clinical workflow in question and the needs of your setting.

  5. Preemptively thwart disruption. Have a clear escalation path for what to do in the case of delays or obstacles, which are often inevitable within a compressed timeline. To ensure long-term success, it’s also wise to identify key individuals upfront who can be on point to help optimize the solution into the future.

 Advancing connected care

Today, care teams at YNHH communicate easily and quickly across the two-floor NICU with ease. The centralized care team uses advanced—and easy to use—technology tools to monitor all goings-on in three distinct care units located on each floor. The NNICU is less-noisy than before, and caregivers can deliver exceptional care while taking advantage of easier communications across the space.

 According to post-implementation surveys, 90 percent of caregivers were excited about the project—compared with 30 percent before it got started. The enthusiasm of caregivers has a direct and profound impact on patient outcomes, simply by making it easier for them to do their best work.

Change is often perceived as a negative, regardless of intentions and outcomes. YNHH’s NNICU team proves that change can be a positive—but it doesn’t happen by accident. Changing negative perceptions into a positive embrace requires a thoughtful plan and a partner who can help change not only the physical environment and its technology, but also change attitudes from negative to positive.  


December 13, 2018