Vendor, Health System RNs Should Partner to Improve Care
“Are you ready to leave the Dark Side yet?”
Rhonda Collins, MSN, RN, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of Vocera Communications, still gets asked this question by former colleagues years after leaving the world of hospital nurse leadership. “I used to think it was funny,” she told me, but now she knows it reflects a misunderstanding of the role nurses who work for vendor companies can play in improving patient care.
As someone fairly new to the role of industry nurse executive, I very much appreciated the opportunity to connect with Rhonda while attending the American Organization for Nurse Executives’ (AONE) national conference in April. She believes it’s time to change the conversation between nurse executives and industry nurse leaders.
“Providers and nursing leaders don’t always understand that we are not just creating a product but solving a problem,” she says. (The “we” being the companies like Vocera that serve the hospital industry.)
At this year’s AONE conference there was a popular session offered on this very topic, “Leveraging Industry Nurse Executives: Translating Scientific Knowledge for Practical Purposes” The four panelists were all remarkable nurse leaders who have chosen the path of influencing patient care, not at just one organization, but at many organizations working for a solutions provider. All of the panelists spoke about how they see their role as a partner with healthcare nurse leaders, helping them achieve their mission and vision. The optimal partnership is created when nurse leaders are actively engaged with industry nurse leaders who are the subject matter experts for their companies’ solutions.
One of the panelists, Melissa A. Fitzpatrick, RN, MSN, FAAN, Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer of Hill-Rom, talked about how her perspective has changed from when she was a CNO at Duke University Hospital. At Duke, she admitted that she, “…delegated like crazy,” but in hindsight there were times she was abdicating her responsibility to have input into technology decisions and implementations that affected patient care.
In my experience at AvaSure the key ingredient that differentiates hospitals with mediocre implementation and those that not only meet but exceed their goals is the engagement of leadership. This may sound like a cliché, but I have seen it firsthand. Of course nurse executives delegate the day-to-day management of the video monitoring program to a nursing leader they trust, but they need to be engaged and ready to step in when needed to provide support. On the other hand, when a nurse leader is responsible for implementing AvaSys but doesn’t have strong support from his or her CNO, the program is in danger of collapsing at the first hurdle.
Here at AvaSure, I and my RN colleagues are able to interact with nurses from many different organizations grappling with similar challenges, such as a falls rate that has plateaued in spite of applying all the best practices to decrease falls. At the same time nurse leaders are struggling with sitter costs that are like a runaway train. There was more than one nurse executive who visited our booth at AONE, after looking to the left and right, lowered their voices and whispered, “I’m spending $1 million a year on sitters!”
It’s gratifying to be able to be a subject matter expert on video monitoring. Because I was a pioneer in this application while a nurse executive at a health system and have now worked with AvaSure and its 150 customers on implementing AvaSys, there isn’t a question that comes up that I haven’t heard before. My RN colleagues and I not only can answer all questions, we can usually suggest a best practice that one of our clients has implemented.
Just as Rhonda Collins is able to guide nurse leaders through the complexities of personal communication devices and integration, we are able to provide guidance in our arena of fall reduction and sitter solutions.
My plea is for nurse leaders to engage with technology decisions and implementations that affect patient care. My promise is to be the expert in our particular arena to provide guidance and partnership to help achieve nursing goals.