Webinar: Connected Care Technology Strategy Can Improve NNICU Patient and Family Experience
When newborn babies are premature or otherwise in need of critical care, care team access to mature Connected Care technology can make all the difference. How Connected Care improves the experience of the neonatal care team and patient families was the focus of our recent webinar – a follow-up from our presentation at the 2018 Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation conference. Leaders from Yale New Haven Health (YNHH) joined me to explain how they transformed their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NNICU) into a state-of-the-art, Connected Care environment.
Like most traditional NNICUs, YNHH’s legacy facility was designed to enable caregivers to easily see and hear the infants in their care at all times. The result? A cramped, chaotic, and stressful environment that was often noisy with the activity of newborn babies, their families, caregivers, and patient monitors.
YNHH decided to build a new NNICU to provide more space, private rooms, and a better experience for the tiny patients and their families. The challenges that faced the team included moving to private patient rooms while preserving the “connectedness” between care team members, between the care team and families, and between the care team and the life-saving monitoring technology used on the unit.
Enabling digital ‘eyes and ears’ to improve patient safety
A survey of the NNICU caregivers during the care redesign process revealed that most were extremely concerned that the new care environment would make it difficult to hear and see their vulnerable patients. Without that first-hand sight and sound, would critical care be delayed?
The solution was to design and implement clinical communication technology to provide digital ‘eyes and ears’ for the care team. As part of the interdisciplinary expansion project team, Burwood recommended a Connected Care strategy, including redesigned clinical workflows, new and upgraded technology, and a concerted effort to build caregiver trust in the new processes.
The plan included not just the technical implementation, but also the long-term picture. Burwood Group worked with the Yale New Haven Health team to completely redesign care processes, develop a user acceptance testing methodology, train-for-adoption, and ensure that the Go Live plan would deliver on the team’s vision with a high level of confidence.
A better experience for the tiniest patients
Through the expansion project, the NNICU quadrupled in size to cover two entire floors of the hospital. Instead of a few multi-patient bays in a single large space, the redesigned NNICU offers 68 private patient rooms and eight couplet rooms to accommodate mothers and infants to enhance healing and bonding. Notably, it is one of the only two U.S. Neonatal Intensive Care Units that offer couplet rooms for mothers requiring hospital care and their infants requiring NNICU support.
In addition to its sophisticated treatment room and family-friendly amenities, the expanded NNICU now has an innovative Connected Care platform encompassing patient monitoring, alarm management, and smartphone-based communication tools that allow the caregivers and families to stay in touch whenever needed. The cutting-edge system relies on clinical middleware to instantly transmit data and alarms from each baby’s patient monitor to caregiver smartphones, which include a communication application to support alarms, text messaging, and voice calls. In addition, the on-unit nurse call technology is used to streamline communication between patient families and nurses, and to quickly initiate communication workflows between clinicians and ancillary departments.
During the AAMI presentation, the speakers from Yale New Haven Health noted that the Connected Care solution has made the NNICU significantly quieter. The improved alarm management approach, combined with secondary alerting to caregiver mobile phones, have reduced the frequency of alarms by over 70%, while enabling caregivers to respond more quickly than ever when they receive one. Fewer alarms translates into better rest for patients and families, and reduced alarm fatigue for the clinical staff.
The team at Yale New Haven Health recognizes that extended NNICU patient stays are complex and extremely stressful for the patient and family. The organization’s commitment to supporting a high performing, patient- and family-centric care environment served as a guiding principle throughout the Connected Care system design. As a result, the Yale NNICU team is confident that they are receiving the right information, with the right context, at the right time to best support patient care. The result of the combined efforts of the YNHH and Burwood teams is a technology support layer that puts workflow first, and allows clinicians to focus on the work they love – caring for our most vulnerable patients and their families.