Efficient communication and collaboration for Parkland Health & Hospital nursing staff

Feb. 28, 2017
Parkland Health & Hospital System is one of the largest public hospital systems in the country. The hospital averages more than one million outpatient visits every year. Parkland opened its new 2.8 million square-foot, state-of-the-art campus in August 2015, which is nearly twice the size of the old hospital. The new hospital has 870 licensed beds, with 862 single-patient private rooms including bathrooms with window views promoting an environment of healing with natural lighting. Every aspect of the hospital had to be planned, including how to ensure quality patient care and keep workflows efficient in a much larger facility.
Zebra MC40-HC mobile computer with the Workforce Connect Voice client


Due to the needs of its service area, the new healthcare campus doubled in size. With the vast size difference between the old and new hospital, Parkland had to address several issues—the most critical being adjustments in the day-to-day patient care provided by its clinical staff. The sheer size of the patient floors—nearly the length of three football fields—was a challenge. That size drove caregivers from a centralized care model to a decentralized one—creating the need to change how communication and collaboration happens.

In the past, the staff’s proximity to one another allowed for face-to-face communications and interactions. Now, the distance they needed to travel makes that nearly impossible. Another practice change involved the medical team (physician, surgeon, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant) and nurse interaction. Previously, if a medical team member needed to collaborate with a nurse, the nurse call system would alert the nurse, and he or she could go to the central nurse station to communicate with a member of the medical team. That communication still is required, but with no central station another workflow needed to enable it. Further, without a centralized location for clinicians to receive critical alerts and alarms about their patients, Parkland needed another medium to immediately transmit alerts and notifications to the nurse.

Parkland is one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the country and recognized that technology could help provide solutions to overcome these new challenges. Parkland’s leadership knew the new hospital needed mobility solutions.  CIO Matthew Kull said they wanted to “reinvent Parkland’s technology footprint” so they looked for a solution for its new “mobile-enabled” workforce.


Parkland surveyed its nursing staff to gain feedback on various mobile devices. They selected Zebra Technologies’ MC40-HC enabled with Zebra’s Workforce Connect Voice client. The decision was based on performance, capability, durability, and compliance with Parkland’s infection prevention program.

Using the new platform, Parkland nurses can make high-quality voice calls, secure texting, mobile alerts, and alarms. They also can use the camera for Wound Capture within their Epic Haiku workflows. Furthermore, the hot-swappable battery provides the hospital staff continuous, shared usage while the disinfectant plastics ensure that the staff can wipe down the device to stay in compliance with infection control protocols.

Rachel George, Parkland’s Manager of Nursing Informatics, says nurses had their workflow interrupted by phone calls in the old facility—sometimes more than 20 times per day. With role-based communication, collaboration is seamless. The appropriate information is shared through the appropriate communication channel.

“With the new technology you can open the application, type the patient’s name, and select the primary nurse that is attached to the patient to make the call. It goes directly to the nurse that is with the patient,” George said. “No one has to look at the schedule to see what nurse is assigned. It saves a lot of time which is critical. Even some of the front desk work has been reduced or eliminated.”

The technology solution also helps the hospital escalation process. Instead of multiple staff members responding to a specific call, the process allows someone to accept a response and complete the job without potentially three or four nurses responding to the same call.

“We use the technology solution to connect all of our alerts, critical labs, patient calls as well as code blue,” Parkland CIO Matthew Kull said. “It’s providing better information to our caretakers in near real-time. ”


Parkland’s decision to implement a mobile solution enabled the nursing staff to focus on what’s most important— patient care. The solution gives nurses the ability to communicate in real-time, access right-now information, and take the right action with that information.

Parkland’s leadership can track all patient activities from positive patient identification, specimen collection, laboratory specimen tracking, and pharmacy medication administration. Additionally, hospital staff communication with voice and secure texting, along with patient alerts and alarms—this all helps increase patient safety, care, and satisfaction.

“We are in the infancy of where this is going to go and what’s going to be capable with it,” Kull said. “Getting real information to the clinical staff at the right time through mobile devices and giving them access to requesting assistance in real-time wherever they are is just the beginning.”