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As the COVID-19 pandemic tightens its grip on health systems around the world, care teams in the thick of the crisis are finding creative ways to quickly install temporary video capabilities — including leveraging cameras traditionally used in the home. Leaders at Circle Health, a Cerner ITWorksSM client in Massachusetts, installed RingTM cameras to help clinicians monitor and communicate with patients safely and more efficiently.
“With our campuses seeing increased COVID-19 activity and little time to prepare, we needed something we could install quickly to monitor patients while reducing the amount of risk for our clinicians,” said Jody White, FACHE, president and CEO. “With only a little effort, we had a solution to help us through this unprecedented crisis.”
More than 40 Ring Indoor Cameras were locally purchased for Lowell General’s Main Campus and its Saints Campus, which are part of Circle Health’s integrated community health care system. Working proactively, Circle Health installed the devices to help manage an expected surge of COVID-19 patients. They anticipate bringing more cameras online as needed. To protect patient privacy, ITWorks associates secured each camera on a private network.
The cameras make it easier for physicians or nurses to react quickly if the need arises before entering a patient’s room.
“We put cameras in private rooms where doors need to remain closed and there aren’t any windows in the doors,” said Amy Hoey, MS, BSN, RN-BC, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Those cameras allow us to quickly look into the room with an iPad and see if there are any issues. Clinicians don’t have to spend 90 seconds to two minutes putting on personal protective equipment (PPE) unless it’s necessary.”
Reducing the number of times clinicians must wear PPE also conserves resources, an important consideration since Circle Health is not immune to the supply chain challenges facing hospitals across the country.
“We can make sure we use PPE in more necessary cases,” Hoey said. “In addition, it helps reduce the number of people going into an isolation room, and that helps us lower the chance of clinicians being exposed to the virus.”
At a Saints Campus alternative care unit activated in just a few days, a Ring Video Doorbell allows nurses to see who is at the door and let them enter if necessary. An iPad tied to the camera allows the nurses to communicate with the person at the door since this is a secured unit.
Following the lessons learned at Circle Health, ITWorks hopes to roll out similar setups at other medical facilities across the country.
Circle Health employees are also turning to other technology solutions during the pandemic. In some cases, they use iPads and videoconferencing app, Zoom for Healthcare, to allow one person wearing PPE to enter patients’ rooms while additional staff stays outside. They use the iPad and Zoom to continue communicating with the clinician and patient inside the room, decreasing exposure and limiting PPE use.
“No doubt, this has been a challenge for us, along with medical facilities globally,” White said. “But I’m proud of how innovation and quick thinking is helping us handle this difficult time."
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