Chief Nursing Informatics Officer Talks Tech for Nurses

Written by

Woman wearing suit. Headshot of Annabaker Garber.

For technology serving nurses today, the key is mobility. Adding mobile technology to the nurse’s workflow allows them to get back to the bedside – right where they want, and need, to be.

HCA Healthcare’s Information Technology and Services (IT&S) division wants to help nurses minimize the time required to go between fixed and mobile computing, and maximize the time they have to serve patients face-to-face. Our mobile technologies allow and empower nurses to fully realize their calling: to provide the best care.

For anyone involved with mobile technology for nurses or anything that supports them, I hope you’ll take to heart just how transformative this technology can be. It allows some of the kindest, most compassionate hearts of our organization to focus on the work that means the most to them and their patients.

How is mobile technology at work at HCA Healthcare?
We have started with mobile applications such as secure text messaging, lists for patient and care teams – a group of care providers led by a nurse – and lab results for nurses and other care team members. These mobile solutions are making an enormous impact on improving care coordination and speed in communication between clinicians, as well as streamlining the delivery of care. It also enables us to be more responsive to patient requests—and more considerate of the nurse’s time—by integrating with a call light system, for instance, an alert for the appropriate care team member, rather than a nurse.

Why did we start there?
Implementing secure texting technology, which we also have for physicians, fills a hole in our portfolio of offerings. It gave us a reason to have a mobile platform to build on, and it added real mobility to the nurse floors. The technology has been received very well. User perception is overwhelmingly positive, and we continue to hear stories of patients receiving care faster as a result of its implementation.

What’s next?
We want to determine what other components of the nursing workflow we can drive through mobile technology. We are evaluating strategies to push alerts to the phone, and looking for technology that promotes documentation on the phone as well. Eventually, we want to incorporate patient and staff location to get alerts and other information to the right person at the right time (for instance, alerting dietary or housekeeping instead of nurses when situations allow).

What IT&S needs to know
Our IT&S strategy is to create a service-oriented infrastructure. And with that, we look to leap ahead of competitors by having more available on the mobile platform, including:

  • An internal shop developing our own mobile apps, inventing a notification platform and real-time alerting out of our unparalleled data warehouse;
  • Evaluating vendors to fill in the components of the nursing workflow where we don’t currently have technology;
  • Investing to arrive at a unique infrastructure and product portfolio that’s aligned with a strong mobile version of the nurse’s workflow.

What do nurses think?
HCA Healthcare-affiliated nurses are ready for the right technology. They are incredibly busy, and don’t have time to adapt to a technology that doesn’t work right out of the gate. In fact, we now have more millennial nurses than baby boomers, and even the baby boomer nurses are so familiar with mobile technology in their personal life that this leap is an easy one.

Our nurses have found the IT solutions, so far, to be very satisfying. They’re still so often burdened with multiple devices (walkie-talkies, pagers, smart phones, bar code readers) that charging and carrying one device will be a welcome upgrade for them.

Heartbeat icon placed over photo of two female nurses

It’s rewarding to think these technologies have a direct impact on patient care the instant they eliminate the number of steps to complete a task, charging time or the bother of switching between multiple devices. When it comes to the nursing workflow, big and small opportunities for technology hold real potential for impact. It is a privilege and an honor to work with IT&S and to be a part of the transformation.

I can think of nothing more Healthcare Inspired than to be a part of any improvement that means a nurse can spend more time at the bedside. That’s what our efforts are all about, and the enhancements can’t happen fast enough for our nurses—those who juggle so much to ensure our patients receive the kind of care they deserve.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

Recent articles