Denver Health Launches Enterprise-Wide Clinical Communication Strategy

Denver Health and Hospital Authority, one of Colorado’s premier healthcare institutions and home to the Region’s Level I Trauma Center, is known for its culture of innovation and appetite to pilot new technologies. Over time this approach created operational inefficiencies due to a wide variety of clinical communication tools, as well as a complex vendor set that proved increasingly difficult to manage. Sherri Hess, MS-IS, BSN, RN-BC, FHIMSS, Associate Chief Informatics Officer for Nursing at Denver Health, recognized the need for a long-term strategy to align technology with best practice clinical workflows and give clinicians a stronger voice in technology decisions. She turned to Burwood Group for a unified clinical communication strategy to empower caregivers and patients alike, and improve outcomes and efficiency. 


The Challenge: Overlapping Technology Initiatives, Complex Vendor Set, and Resource Strain 

Denver Health juggled disparate communication devices with limited functionalities as well as multiple technology initiatives at various phases of execution. Tracking the impact of technology investments was difficult due to a lack of analytics capabilities. Other challenges included limited device integration and cross-functional analytics. This, combined with ongoing engagements with a large network of vendors, created a state of fragmentation. 

Hess observed that the health system also had difficulty garnering nursing, physician, and ancillary staff participation in new technology initiatives. Denver Health’s concurrent EHR implementation required significant resources for an extended period of time, further straining staff involvement in new and existing technology programs.

The Solution: Three-phased Mobile Device and Communication Strategy Assessment

Taking a big-picture approach, Burwood Group worked with Hess to develop an enterprise-wide clinical communication strategy for Denver Health. The Burwood team began by documenting the desired clinical and business outcomes of the project to ensure that future investment in clinical communication technology and organizational directives for clinical and financial improvement were aligned. This discovery phase included workshops and interviews with members of senior administration, clinical operations, IT, clinical engineering, and ancillary departments, as well as onunit shadowing to observe processes and technology usage.

Clinical use cases were created to guide vendor/product evaluation and project sequencing for communication and clinical alerts. Burwood consultants performed market research to determine best fit and timing for new technologies. These efforts culminated in the creation of a clinical technology roadmap for Denver Health to serve as a filter for evaluating future projects and technology requests from clinical teams. Burwood also provided Denver Health with a methodology to review new technology investment benefits and limitations, including the potential financial and operational impact.

Burwood Group’s intimate knowledge of the healthcare industry made them invaluable during the clinical communication assessment. Our progressive culture of change and innovation is now sustainable, thanks to a long-term, holistic roadmap. Most importantly, Burwood provided a clear vision for how technology can be leveraged to improve both business and clinical outcomes. This is a huge feat for any hospital to overcome and we were grateful to have Burwood by our side.
— Sherri Hess, MS-IS, BSN, RN-BC, FHIMSS Associate Chief Informatics Officer for Nursing, Denver Health

The Outcome: Sequenced Clinical Technology Roadmap to Support Multi-Departmental, Multidisciplinary, Patient-Centered Communication

Through Hess’s leadership toward a truly connected care environment, Denver Health is now equipped with a comprehensive roadmap for clinical communication. The health system is poised to effectively introduce new technologies and phase out the old. The roadmap also provides the organization with the ability to maximize the impact of its clinical technology investments. Further, Burwood Group’s vendor assessment provided Denver Health a solid structure and criteria for selecting technology vendors that best meet the needs of the organization.

As with any new technology introduction, an important next step for Denver Health was developing a compelling business case to drive financial allocation. Hess spearheaded the development of a business case with support from the Burwood team. The plan included an independent analysis comparing current state operating expenditures versus cost associated with the proposed roadmap. This financial analysis, combined with formal clinical team engagement and Hess’s vision, led to system approval of the funds needed to execute the roadmap, expand support for the clinical team, and improve overall patient experience.