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Q&A with Jennifer Woods of McLaren Northern Michigan

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | November 19, 2021
From the November 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: How widespread is the use of the Vocera Smartbadge? Who on staff is supplied with one?
JW: We chose to provide it to just about all our employees because I might need environmental services to help with turning over a room, I might need transportation, I might need the intensivist. We use the system for calling codes as well. Most of our employees have the Smartbadge or a phone option running the Vocera app.

We chose to keep the Smartbadges here on site. Employees sign into the system and the device is personalized when they’re signing in for their shift, so it can be handed off easily.

HCB News: You mentioned the importance of a peaceful, restful environment when it came to designing the new wing. Were other holistic elements incorporated?
JW: As part of our design, certainly natural light was important to the rooms we built. We sit on a really beautiful location with water in the views from many rooms. We couldn’t ask for better. So it was important to have the views from the rooms to create that restful environment.

Throughout the organization, we also introduced 210 pieces of artwork that really add to the beauty and the peacefulness of the facility. About 100 Michigan artists contributed to the artwork we display throughout the organization. We also created comfortable spaces. Not everyone who comes into our facility will be in a patient room, but they need to be here and creating spaces that were peaceful and quiet were important. We have a fireplace, for example, in our atrium area where they can come and relax and find peace.

HCB News: Is there anything we missed that you’d like to talk about?
JW: One thing I wanted to make sure we cover — I’m particularly proud of our ability to have vision for the future of our organization despite challenges like the pandemic, or nursing shortages. We create structures and processes that help our colleagues to be engaged in potential solutions. In order to recruit nurses, care teams, physicians — they need to know that they’ll be able to make a difference and be active partners. I think that’s something we do well here.

Coming back to the smart technology, what we chose to do with the opportunity of the new build really is a fine example of where, working together, we can find solutions. We’ve implemented electronic whiteboards, which are very helpful in timely communication of information to our patients as well as to our care teams. We have the Vocera Smartbadges I mentioned, with the voice-activated communications, which is timely and helps with workflows. We have also implemented a different type of enhanced nurse call system, which is a computer tablet that helps the patient engage with educational material, and communicate with nurses. It works as a call light system, but also helps give the patients choices around their TV controls, their room environment, gives them access to the creature comforts of the things they might otherwise have at home: video browsers, or access to their Netflix for example. So we’re trying to enhance their experience through technology. We’ve also enhanced our safety features. Patients who are outside their normal environment are naturally more at risk for falls, for example, or just being disorientated or not feeling safe in a new environment. Our integrated technology helps to address these concerns. To have our teams focused on continuous improvement innovative problem solving and using the technology available today are all ways we also attract staff to a place where they can do their best work.

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