Kishwaukee Community Hospital

Leveraging a Common Platform to Improve Clinical Workflow & Patient Outcomes at an Innovative Rural Hospital

Bed Size: 98
Deployment Timeframe: 4 Months
Integrations: Mobile/RTLS/ADT

Adoption of Critical Alert Nurse Call

When planning their new 94-bed facility in DeKalb, IL, KishHealth System was committed to leveraging technology that would improve patient care and satisfaction, create workflow efficiencies and optimize staff productivity. KishHealth designed its new Medical, Surgical, Telemetry and Pediatric inpatient units in Y-shaped formats that replace traditional nurses stations with “huddle stations.” The goal was to get the right person to the patient right away. That meant finding a different kind of nurse call system that could support their plan to get away from standardized nursing units.


“We were looking for a nurse call system with a lot of features and functionality that would allow us to customize workflows and really push the envelope,” said Heath Bell, Kishwaukee Hospital CIO. “A system that could easily integrate into our electronic medical records was important, as well as one that could serve as the common path for a variety of clinical information and messaging.”

“The ability to stay on top of potential adverse events and intervene early has had big clinical implications and has helped improve patient outcomes. We’ve found the system provides a quicker response time to codes, with alerts transmitted directly to code teams via Voice Over IP to their XML phones rather than using overhead paging.”

Heath Bell

Chief Information Officer, Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital

Centralized Triage of Nurse Call

KishHealth chose to deploy centralized nurse call as their primary mode of operation. All of the units, except for the ER, route patient requests to a small group of centralized operators for triage and staff assignments. KishHealth developed nine separate workflow requests that can be triggered by a patient request – each with its own priority, staff assignment and escalation protocol. The patient’s relevant data is automatically presented to the operator thanks to a native HL7 integration with the ADT system.

Native Integration of RTLS

Hospital staff members wear RTLS  locating badges that automatically transmit their location. As they enter the patient room, the system closes the workflow request and creates a detailed electronic record of the response. Escalations, customized for each workflow by KishHealth, are automatically triggered until the system registers that the workflow request has been fulfilled. The centralized operators have full visibility of the entire workflow and escalation process and can call directly into the room, if necessary.

Real-Time Patient Surveillance

Integration of real-time surveillance software within Critical Alert Nurse Call has created a robust tracking and alerting system that enables caregivers to visually show pre-identified at-risk patients for potential adverse events and early intervention. The software scans KishHealth’s EHR system at predefined intervals and generates alerts.

Outcomes-Based Analytics

In addition to enhancing KishHealth’s patient-centered focus, Critical Alert also provides data to help identify opportunities for improvement. One such enhancement is an approach to be more responsive to patients’ unresolved pain issues. With the changes instituted, KishHealth’s Med-Surg unit has been at the 98th and 99th percentiles for the HCAHPS rating “Staff doing everything they could to help with pain.”

Customized Clinical Workflow Codes

Critical Alert serves as the platform for a variety of customized clinical workflow code alerts. Simply pressing the call button on the nurse call patient station activates a code alert that are triaged by centralized operators and delivered within an average of nine seconds to the right staff.

The Results

Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital was named to the 2012 list of “Most Wired Hospitals and Health Systems” in the Most Wired-Small and Rural category. “With patients receiving an acknowledgement within nine seconds of initiating a call, patients say they feel more confident knowing someone has heard their request and is taking care of it. And once we receive that request, our average fulfillment time is 4.5 minutes.” adds Bell. “Nurses also tell us they appreciate the new technology when we can use it to clearly improve patient care.”

Heath Bell

Chief Information Officer, Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital