Q&A with Saint Mary’s Hospital: Improving Clinical Communications Enhances Patient Care


Efficient communication amongst physicians, nurses and other providers is critical to the coordination and delivery of patient care, especially given the increasingly mobile nature of today’s clinicians.

For healthcare IT leadership, the ability to satisfy the clinical need for more efficient communications technologies must be balanced with safeguarding protected health information (PHI) to meet compliance and security requirements. As a result, the industry continues to rely primarily on pagers (SMS texting is not HIPAA compliant), which creates inefficiencies that can have a considerable economic and productivity impact.

But this is starting to change. Healthcare organizations are adopting more efficient, secure communications solutions to improve care coordination and enhance patient experience.

Saint Mary’s Hospital, a 347-bed facility in Waterbury, Connecticut, is one of these forward-thinking organizations. Their team recently sat down with us to reflect on the key drivers of their initiative to improve clinical communication.

Why were you looking for a secure communications solution?

Birgit Koellmer, nurse informaticist at Saint Mary’s: As our clinical staff continues to become mobile, we must implement technologies that support providers’ changing workflows to give them the access they need to deliver high-quality patient care as they move quickly throughout the hospital.

Tom Calo, Technical Solutions Engineer at Saint Mary’s: It was clear we needed a solution to improve communication and care coordination.

Koellmer: The employees didn’t want to realize [that clinicians were sending insecure texts], or they wanted to close their eyes to what was going on. They said “Oh nobody is texting.” But this [was] blind, because if you walk around in the hospital, you [saw] everybody texting. They used their own phone because they’re used to it, and want to use it in the workplace the same way… And whenever somebody came around, they tossed it in their pockets.

Why did you choose Imprivata Cortext for your secure communication needs?

Calo: After evaluating several products, we found Imprivata Cortext to be the only solution built exclusively for healthcare and capable of meeting our unique clinical workflow challenges.  Imprivata’s deep healthcare expertise, which has been proven through the success of our Imprivata OneSign implementation, gives us confidence that Imprivata Cortext is the best option for improving communication and care coordination.

Michael Novak, Chief Information Officer at Saint Mary’s: Imprivata Cortext gives our clinical staff the ability to more efficiently communicate and collaborate, which allows them to spend more time bedside, taking care of patients

Calo: The value we see with Imprivata is they help you with workflows – the clinical workflows. They know them all, they had them figured out. They helped us and helped us design them.

What communication workflows are you looking to improve with Imprivata Cortext?

Koellmer: One of the key areas we identified for improvement was [pager] communication, primarily because pagers are inefficient and waiting for callbacks creates delays that impact patients.

Novak: [Imprivata Cortext] improves patient safety because care teams can coordinate and make decisions in real time, enabling them to more quickly deliver the best patient care possible.

Koellmer: I also want to mention that we like to see it as emergency preparedness. For example, if there would be an emergency, or an event going on, we can easily send messages out to the entire organization.

Calo: In the long-term, I see it being something that is integrated into the entire delivery of healthcare. For example, we have too many EHRs here. We’re a small hospital, but we must have six to eight easily. Some of them are flowing information, some of them aren’t. [Imprivata Cortext] can be something that brings it all together.

To learn more about how Saint Mary’s uses Imprivata Cortext to eliminate clinical inefficiencies, improve patient care and enable secure communication, register for our webinar (hosted by HIStalk.com) on Wednesday March 4, at 1 p.m. EST: https://histalk.leadpages.net/imprivata-030415/.