“At its core, our underlying technology is a directory of everyone in the institution,” says Brian Edds, VP of product strategy at Spok. “It also integrates with scheduling software, so the system knows who should be on duty at the time. In addition, our software tracks alerts and response times, so it becomes a system of record for these interactions for auditing, compliance and risk management.”
As outcomes-focused and value-based care becomes more established, expedited communications take on a more essential role. “In the case of a Code STEMI (ST elevation myocardial infarction), which gets treated by a stent, patients have a much better chance of survival if the ‘door-to-balloon’ time is less than 90 minutes,” Edds says. A Midwest health system reported that response time for such incidents was cut by nearly 50 percent, from 129 minutes to 68 minutes, after implementing Spok’s software.
Spok’s platform provides technology that allows test results to be sent to the ordering physician as soon as they are available. One East Coast hospital designed its integrated solution so that if the provider did not acknowledge receipt within 30 minutes, critical test results would be escalated. The Joint Commission, which sets National Patient Safety Goals (NPSG) each year, chose this as one of its goals in 2015: “Report critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures on a timely basis.” That goal is much more easily met if the delivery is automated.
In addition to improving outcomes, the Spok Care Connect platform reduces emergency discharge times, improves patient satisfaction scores and reduces communication-related complaints. One large Southwestern health system reported experiencing an 85 percent decrease in formal complaints about delayed response time for patient call lights and a 75 percent drop in complaints about poor communication. Spok’s system can also coordinate follow-up care, which is important in preventing recurring hospital stays.
Unified communication systems are an emerging trend, and hospitals have not yet implemented them broadly. “In the past, each communication network was purchased as a silo,” Edds explains. “Nurses had phones connected to a central phone system, doctors had pagers and so on. Now, hospitals are beginning to roll up their departmental communication systems into an enterprise system.”
Getting the most out of content
Managing information in the life sciences industry poses special challenges because of its diversity and the global nature of many companies. Developing a strategy is an often-overlooked step as companies accumulate information without a solid plan in place. “There is a ‘Wild West’ of SharePoint sites out there,” says Kane. “This is widely recognized, but the question is what to do about it.”
Paragon focuses on strategy, information architecture, taxonomy and ontology to bring order to content. “Drug development often takes years,” Kane says, “and at certain times the relationship among terms needs to be adjusted as the work evolves so tags can be defined that help the search process.” The company uses proprietary methodologies and tools such as SmartLogic (smartlogic.com) to auto-categorize large repositories of data to enhance search and allow productive mining of the data. At that point, the information can be moved to a structured SharePoint site and surfaced for various user communities.
The concept of communities of practice is still a valid one, even though it is not new. “Millennials are very strong on being connected to others,” Kane says. “Two people may be in different departments but if there is a piece of content that is relevant to both and the system is pushing it out, there can be some synergy.”
Office365 from Microsoft allows diverse information from SharePoint, email and other applications to be put into One Drive. “Microsoft’s Delve surfaces content for people based on what is relevant and important to them,” Kane adds. “The content may be from many different SharePoint sites but is presented virtually in a single interface. These connections are important in pharma, where collaboration plays a big role.”
No matter what products are used to capture and display information, KM principles are essential. “None of this works without a commitment to foundational knowledge management,” Kane says, “whether it is to provide technical solutions or capture lessons learned.”