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IT Rounding Pays Off for Nurses, Patients…and IT Staff

Analysis  |  By  
   March 22, 2016

Rounding with IT staff has not only raised the IT skills of nurses, giving them a competitive advantage, it has also reduced the volume of help desk tickets and rewarded some IT staffers with a deeper level of purpose than ever before.

We hear about alert fatigue, but tech fatigue in general is also worthy of attention in healthcare.

As a way of combatting tech fatigue, the IT staff of HCA North Texas is making regular rounds of units, and in the process redefining how a healthcare IT department interacts with hospital and clinic staffs.

Last week, HCA North Texas CIO Leah Miller explained to me how it works.

Miller told me how she partnered with HCA North Texas Chief Nursing Executive Carol Gregory to verify that the myriad of equipment in use by nurses at the division’s 13 hospitals was continuing to be in good working order to meet a variety of important objectives, including compliance with sepsis bundle initiatives to reduce mortality.

“What we realized is they don’t really have time to make the call to ensure their equipment is working, and [also] take care of our patients,” Miller says. “So we took some of the Studer Group nurse leader rounding principles, and we created tech rounding.”

Here is how it works. Once a week, an IT team from HCA walks through each unit. “You can think of them as operational blitzes, where every member of the IT staff, from our nurses, our clinical informaticists, to our technical folks, to our physician support folks, all round to a unit at once,” Miller says.

A More Proactive Service Team
The idea is to evolve from the traditional IT service desk model, where all too often, staff wait to get a call, then generate a trouble ticket, then resolve the problem, and then move on to the next call.

During IT rounding, IT staff does everything from updating tracking equipment, to clinician training on systems, to checking computers to make sure they are in good working order and running the latest updates.

By being proactive, HCA is avoiding IT troubles in the units later on. “Recently in our division, we proactively touched 4,000 scanners for exactly that reason,” Miller says. “We don’t want our nurses in front of our patients having problems scanning meds.”

In the last three months, HCA North Texas has seen an average reduction in total trouble ticket volume of 15% percent, which equates to approximately 7,000 tickets HCA clinicians did not have to call in.

HCA North Texas has seen an even greater reduction in high priority tickets, those that are urgent because they can directly impact or delay patient care. These high priority tickets have dropped by an average of 52%, or 787 fewer instances per month of issues delaying patient care.

As elsewhere, clinicians are literally surrounded by technology as they do their jobs. HCA North Texas has more than 700 different applications it uses to deliver care to patients and it is not uncommon for a nurse to interact with about 50 applications on a daily basis. So IT rounding is an effort to simplify clinicians’ lives.

As beneficial as IT rounding appears to be to HCA North Texas IT operations, its biggest benefit has been to improve job satisfaction of nursing and related staff, Miller says.

 “What else can we provide nurses as a competitive advantage to recruit them? Traditionally, in the healthcare systems I’ve been in, we focus so much on the physicians, and sometimes our nurses get lost, so we’re really trying to change that.”


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Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.

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