Web eases finding physicians at Fairfield Medical

FRAMINGHAM (02/13/2004) - The time it takes a nurse to contact a physician at Fairfield (Ohio) Medical Center has dropped 90 percent since implementing One-2-One, a Web- and telephone-based communication system from PerfectServe Inc.

At Fairfield, the hospital's switchboard was the primary method for nurses to individually track down any of the approximately 200 physicians at the hospital. Using the switchboard can be efficient for small organizations, but with the relatively large number of physicians, it became inefficient for Fairfield. One-2-One is also used by Fairfield's 600-strong nursing staff, and is currently routing about 500 calls per day, said Jerome Roche, Fairfield vice president and chief medical officer.

"As we grew, it became more difficult to keep tabs on our physicians as far as how they would like to be contacted on specific days and times," Roche said. "It became difficult for our nursing staff to accurately and reliably contact physicians working off of a switchboard."

Last July, Fairfield rolled out the PerfectServe pilot program for 14 physicians. When the program was completed in December, Fairfield began introducing the service to blocks of 30 to 50 physicians every week.

"We estimate that the time a nurse spends locating a physician has gone from (up to) an hour down to five minutes on average," Roche said. Financial savings numbers Fairfield has seen by using PerfectServe are not yet available, he said.

Physician contact information is hosted at PerfectServe's data center in Knoxville, Tenn. Through a Web-based interface, nurses access and update physician contact information and preferences, which are stored on a Microsoft Exchange server. Web access allows a physician to edit his or her personal settings.

To contact physicians during emergencies, nurses use a speed-dial button for routing messages to PerfectServe, which contacts the physicians. This function provides nurses with the most current information on physicians, and thus an efficient way to contact them.

"On-call schedules are changed on the fly," said Terrell Edwards, PerfectServe CEO. "If a physician has a conflict and needs to be removed from an on-call schedule, he or she can make changes online without having to make multiple phone calls to let people know (about the schedule change)."

Taking the time to learn the PerfectServe system is imperative for this implementation to be effective, Roche said. "This system requires some patience from physicians because they need to listen to a menu of options," he added. "With PerfectServe, they now have to deal with the transaction, which is something physicians are not accustomed to. When physicians are able to see the benefits of how this improves communication, they are more likely to embrace it."

PerfectServe's One-2-One service is licensed on a per-physician basis, with the price ranging between US$600 and $800 per year.

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