Learning, Sharing, and Evolving at HealthAchieve

I just got back from a visit to our neighbor to the north, Canada, where I attended HealthAchieve, the signature conference and exhibition of the Ontario Hospital Association, and one of the largest healthcare events in North America.

HealthAchieve is not your average healthcare conference, where you may attend a series of educational sessions and then mingle with your peers around the coffee carafes during breaks. One of my favorite parts of attending HealthAchieve is how highly interactive and engaging it is; there are so many opportunities for meaningful conversation. The exhibition floor featured the “Marketplace,” a social and interactive zone where attendees participated in critical dialogues on important industry themes and responded to illustrated murals that visually captured the learnings from the key conference sessions. There was also the mHealth hub, where attendees shared their organization’s mHealth initiatives.

While there was plenty of buzz going on in these spaces, there were also great conversations at the Spok booth. Most of these discussions centered on improving patient safety. Just like in the U.S., improving patient safety is one of the most pressing topics in Canadian healthcare. Physicians I spoke with immediately understood the importance of clinical alerting and secure messaging because they recognized that these solutions streamline workflows, which in turn, saves valuable time.

For example, one doctor I spoke with said he spends an hour and a half to two hours every shift just trying to track down the right people. Spok Mobile™ could put his organization’s directory and on-call schedule right in his hands, eliminating the need to work with the operators to connect him to the right staff members. If he can determine whether the colleague he’s seeking is available and then share information with her in seconds or minutes instead of hours, he has more time to dedicate to patients.

Similarly, Spok’s clinical alerting solutions can significantly cut wait times for both physicians and patients. Spok® Critical Test Results Management (CTRM) securely and rapidly transfers information to the right caregivers when time is critical to patient care. In addition to improving the process of communicating abnormal test results, this solution also delivers normal results quickly to physicians. This reduces lengthy wait times and distress for patients and enables the hospital to free beds more quickly for new admissions.

Another dimension of patient safety is protecting sensitive health information. Just as U.S. hospitals need to adhere to HIPAA, Ontario hospitals follow PHIPA (the Personal Health Information Protection Act). Physicians I spoke to were very cognizant of PHIPA’s rules and asked security-related questions about Spok Mobile, like “Does it use secure encryption?” (yes), “Can it be wiped remotely?” (yes), and “Where is patient health information stored?” Canadian citizens’ health information cannot leave the country. They were pleased when I told them that in Canada, all Spok Mobile messaging is stored securely on hospital owned and controlled servers and SAN.

While the above topics largely mirror U.S. healthcare, one primary difference in government-run healthcare is funding. Canadian hospitals’ budgets come from taxpayer dollars, and they have to make the most of their budget each year. As a result, we also had conversations about the importance of a long-term communication plan. Wanting to implement clinical alerting or secure texting at your hospital is a fantastic goal, but getting there requires some skilled navigation. Spok wants to be your partner and help your organization make your plans for the future.

Does your organization have a long-term communication plan? Where do you want your critical communications to be in five years? How will you evolve to get there?