James Waddell, Transit Support Services Manager, Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital joins us for this episode of Patient Flow Podcast to discuss the role that hospital transport plays in an effective patient flow strategy. Featured in this Episode of Patient Flow Podcast:
James Waddell | Transit Support Services Manager | Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital
James Waddell has been working in healthcare for twenty years, including roles in materials management, as an environmental services supervisor and as an environmental services manager. James is currently the Transit Support Services Manager at Cone Health’s flagship, The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, which is the largest and most comprehensive medical center within the five-county region of Greensboro, NC. A leader in compassionate, quality care, the easily accessible 63-acre campus includes a 536-bed teaching hospital and referral center.
Introduction: On today’s episode of the Patient Flow Podcast, we welcome James Waddell, Transit Support Services Manager with Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina. James has been instrumental in adopting TeleTracking technology into Cone’s transport tracking – dropping facility transport times from 32 minutes to 26 minutes, and then down to 19 minutes with additional technology. Listen in to hear how the program was rolled into their day-to-day operations.
James: I have been working healthcare for 20 years. My primary role right now is Transit Support Services Manager. I started off working in Materials Management for six years. After that, I become an Environmental Services Supervisor for 4 years. Then I moved up to Environmental Services Manager. Shortly after that, I became the Manager for Transit Support Services, which is patient transport.
Susan: When Moses Cone implemented TeleTracking for transport, your facility times dropped from around 32 minutes to around 26 minutes. Can you discuss the factors that impacted the department performance? Including the key roles that staff productivity plays.
James: There were a lot of different aspects into that transition. We did not have a centralized transport model here at Moses Cone during the time. It was by department. We had pockets of transporters here and there, for instance, there were 8 to 10 in radiology, 2 in respiratory, 4 in vascular and of course, you have the OCTs in the OR.
The President of our hospital thought that it would be good to just take a look at a centralized model just to see if the services could be streamlined. And I was actually hired into that process that was a brand new department. So, we didn't have any metrics or anything to measure.
One of the first things we had to do was come up with some sort of software to support what we were trying to put together as a department. And that's where TeleTracking came in to play. We looked at several different systems that from an analytic standpoint and a productivity standpoint, tele-tracking kind of won out both of those over other companies.
Susan: James, I understand that when you shifted to using iPods, those transport results became even impressive. That they dropped to about 19 minutes. Can you talk about the challenges and the implementation process of introducing iPods into the mix?
James: Actually, there were very little challenges. Out staff was really open and receptive to switching over to iPods. Before, of course, they were using the pagers. Using the pagers required dialing through the prompts and we were starting to find out that staff were having difficulty in the hospital finding a phone.
There were some current concerns about actually using the patient phone if it's in the room. What we did was we actually had a couple iPhones and decided to try that iPod feature out. What we did was we started with our day shift staff and we just kind of picked staff and we'd let them rotate using that device.
The popularity grew from it. We ran that trial for about 2 weeks, until all staff were able to try it out. And they all loved it because they didn't have to search for a phone. Instead of dialing through the prompts they would just hit a button on the device. Everybody loved it and shortly after that about 2 weeks after we completed that trial, we went on and purchased iPods for everybody.
Susan: James, you've had such tremendous success already. What are some of the things that you're doing to help ensure that the transit department's success continues? If some type of policies and procedures rounding the customers, can you elaborate on some of those things?
James: The first part of that is making sure that the staff stays in tuned to everything that's going on. In addition to our regular monthly staff meetings, we huddle with the staff on first, second, and third shift every day. We do not only huddle for issues or concerns, but we also talk about safety, quality and customer service, as well as any other areas of concern.
Just being able to huddle with the staff even if it's just for 10 minutes has helped tremendously. As far as rounding with our customers, we do that. We round with our customers on a daily basis. I have two supervisors that work under me to help to lead the team. One supervisor, the day shift supervisor and the other is our evening and weekend supervisor.
All of the areas that we're responsible for service in, they touch base with those leaders at least once a week. If there are issues or concerns we can usually solve them a lot quicker. Rather than them coming up in just another casual conversation. My team just not being aware that there was an issue. Rounding is huge. But the biggest part is just getting feedback from our staff on the flow of the patients.
Susan: Could you talk about what your customer service philosophy is and the impact that that has on the transit experience?
James: Well with customer service, one of my sayings, because I round on patients myself also just to maintain that connection. But one thing that I always communicate to the staff and to the patients when I get to talk to them is, "Nobody wakes up and just says I think I'll go to the hospital today."
It's our job to make that experience just as comfortable as possible for the patients, in a trying situation. It's just our job to make sure that things are just handled as smoothly and properly as possible. Hospital's are not hotels, but from a customer service standpoint we can do some things to make that a good experience for the patient when they are here. I was at a patient summit maybe about 6 months ago and I was asked to speak there to provide some information from a patient transporter. I created this talking point and I'll just share with this and it describes the job of a transporter and how important their service is to the hospital.
“I am a patient transporter. I'm a stranger to you - the patient. To top things off I'm a stranger coming into your home, which is your room. My job is to take you out of your home to a place that you've never visited before, which would be a procedure area. Then leave you with another set of strangers to make you feel confident that all of these people that you have met, including myself, are doing their utmost to provide you with the best service possible.”
How can we accomplish this task in 15 to 20 minutes? Before the focus had always circled around prior hospital experience. Today, the focus is customer service experience. Our hiring practice has changed to find team members that best fit the culture that we are striving for. We can teach the major functions of this job, but customer service is an art.
If a patient is not engaged in part of the process, patient satisfaction scores will not improve. If we're not genuine in our engagement and delivery of care, our scores will not improve. All connections from the preparation of the nurse on the unit, to arrival with the patient in the procedure area have to run like a well-oiled machine.
All in the name of safety for the patient. We use a checklist for each patient movement and as a combination of process and procedure. 15 minutes for a patient can feel like an eternity if they are with a caregiver that is not committed to excellent service. Next, we're going to set you up for success by taking you to the procedure area.
It puts the patient at ease and ensures them they are in good caring hands. The fun part is that after 15 to 20 minutes has expired, we become a stranger all over again. Keeping in mind that there is yet another patient waiting for us to get there. Another technologist preparing for their next procedure. Another doctor waiting for test results.
Revolutionary changes in technology have helped us to serve more patients by improving productivity and having information on hand. As an average, we transport about 500 hundred patients a day and close to 15,000 patients a month. What a powerful impact a patient transporter has on the lives of those that we serve.
Susan: You've been such a wonderful champion for TeleTracking and for our solutions. Could you share how you've helped bring that technology to your sister hospital, Alamance Regional Medical Center?
James: Alamance reached out to us because they had heard some of the success stories that we've had at Moses Cone. They had some safety concerns with their transport team and just trying to make sure that it was always the right patient, right time, the right procedure.
So, we started conversations there. Those conversations rolled over into an onsite visit to Moses Cone. They met with myself, they shadowed a team, and they liked what they saw.
So next, they reached out to TeleTracking, which of course started providing them with information and resources they need to move forward with purchasing the product. During that time, I traveled to AMRC to start meeting with their staff and their team to share the product and the expectations that we had at Cone and how they could benefit the hospital there.
From there, AMRC did several different things. One was moving forward with the contract. The second piece was adopting the policies and procedures that we had set for here at Cone as far as patient transport. And in turn, we developed a great relationship.
So that contract is now in play. We're in the process of getting AMRC live with TeleTracking and think it's going to be a great experience for them. And they're super excited about the process.
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