For Immediate Release: March 02, 2016


Next Text Messaging Tool Improves Communication

The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) is the recipient of this year’s Intelligent Health Association (IHA) award for “Improving Patient Care and Health Delivery.” The award recognizes organizations that have made significant contributions to patient care and healthcare facility management using wireless technologies.

Colleen Driscoll, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a neonatologist at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH), accepted the award on behalf of UMMC during the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference in Las Vegas. Dr. Driscoll led a project to improve communication between the Labor & Delivery (L&D) and Neonatology teams.

When babies delivered in the L&D unit need resuscitation, a call goes out to the neonatal resuscitation team. In order to provide optimal management during resuscitations, the team needs six important pieces of information including the gestation of the fetus, the location of the delivery and how quickly they need to assemble. This information used to be conveyed verbally – via phone to one individual or via overhead speaker in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). But some of the message was getting lost when it was delivered to the full team. In addition, providing the information via overhead speaker was disruptive to patients and had the potential to compromise the privacy of patients’ health information. 

Dr. Driscoll formed a team of clinicians, nurses and engineers to come up with a better method. Ultimately, they developed an innovative text messaging alert system that goes out simultaneously to each member of the neonatal resuscitation team and eliminates the use of an overhead paging system.

“I have always had a strong research interest in improving the quality of healthcare delivery,” said Dr. Driscoll. “To be recognized for this project is a true honor.”   

In addition to the IHA award for “Improving Patient Care and Health Delivery,” the 2016 Intelligent Health Grand Award – made to one of the three recipients of the 2016 annual awards – went to UMMC. 

“We are delighted that Dr. Driscoll and her team have been recognized by the IHA for their ingenuity,” said Steven Czinn, MD, the Drs. Rouben and Violet Jiji Endowed Professor of Pediatrics and Chair of the Department. “Our new NICU was designed to incorporate the latest technology to better serve our tiniest patients. Fostering better communication between our L&D unit and the NICU was a top priority.”

In addition to the text messaging alert system for neonatal resuscitation, the mobile devices are also connected to a bedside alarm. These alarms used to sound only at the bedside and nurses would have to be within earshot of the alarm to respond. But with the new NICU being twice the size and each patient in a private room, this system needed an upgrade. Now, alarms are also transmitted to mobile phones carried by nurses so they never miss an alert. What’s more – they can easily forward the alert to a colleague if they are unable to respond. 

“Our nursing team is so proud that this project is being recognized by the IHA,” said Joan Treacy, MS, RNC-NIC, Nurse Manager of the NICU. “As the end users of this innovative technology, our nurses were instrumental in the development process. Communication has never been better and my staff loves how easy it is to use!”
About the IHA Awards
The IHA Awards were established in 2012 to champion those healthcare providers and institutions that use technologies in healthcare systems for the betterment of patient safety, supply chain and asset management.