Code Ready

HCA’s Code Ready website ensures that hospitals have a centralized location to store emergency-preparedness plans, so they are ready when natural disasters or catastrophic events threaten their communities.

“Last year our corporate emergency operations teams responded to 29 disasters throughout the company, and during some of those, employee work schedules were affected,” says Scott Cormier, Director of Emergency Preparedness & Management for HCA’s Clinical Services and Physicians Group. “We used Code Ready to relay that information to employees.”

Using the site to put administrators in touch with employees is much faster and more effective than traditional call lists, which are usually out of date. What’s more, Code Ready can be accessed by mobile phone, so even if the power is out employees can get updates on their facility’s status. There’s also information on the website about the HCA Hope Fund, so if an employee needs assistance after a hurricane, tornado, flood or other event, he or she can start that process.

Facilities looking to review and upgrade their disaster-response plans will find a new area, Knowledge Exchange, where a model emergency-operations plan shows new strategies for many types of events. It also has recommendations for strengthening ties with public-safety officials in the hospital’s vicinity, Cormier says.

“We are always adding tools and resources for the employees, and also for the people who are tasked with handling emergency response,” he says. “If something happens, no matter where in the world you are, if you have a mobile phone or a computer you can log in and get the information you need.”

Take a look at what’s available by visiting


HCA has invested in AskMD, a smartphone app developed by Sharecare. Users who download the app are asked a series of questions in order to establish some baseline health issues and concerns, and then are given advice on diet, exercise and more to improve their overall health. If they need to see a physician, or do not have a primary care doctor, they are directed to HCA facilities and physicians in order to obtain healthcare.

“This app helps people manage both their wellness and their healthcare needs, and helps HCA with better customer engagement,” says Deb Reiner, Vice President of Customer Relationship Management. “People want a tool that can help make their lives better, and AskMD does that by getting information about yourself and your lifestyle.”

During 2014, HCA is piloting AskMD in five markets: Kansas City, Denver, Nashville, Las Vegas and Richmond, where Sharecare already has 2.2 million users for its other products. That should drive a lot of traffic to the app, and during the six-month pilot period, Reiner says.

“We know how to take care of patients, but we need to be better at talking to people before they need a doctor, or need to come to the hospital,” she says. “Sharecare and AskMD bring us people who are engaged in their healthcare, and then we can get them plugged into our physicians and facilities.”


Nurses have long wanted a more efficient way to take patients’ vital signs, and VitalsNow delivers.

The device, which came out of suggestions that 160 nurses, techs and other clinicians offered up to the HCA CNO Council, sits atop the blood-pressure machine and electronically registers temperature, blood pressure, pulse, respiration rate and other data elements at the bedside. That information is then fed into MediTech, thus saving all the writing and transcribing that taking vitals used to require. It also means that the latest vitals are available right away, so as patient care teams conduct rounds they have the most current information.

“We are in more than 900 nursing units right now, and we are sending about 1 million vitals electronically every month,” says Kelly Aldrich, Informatics Nurse Specialist, Assistant Vice President and Nursing Informatics Officer with HCA’s Clinical Services Group. “This has meant a huge improvement in clinical engagement because now we have real-time vitals and can work with data that tells what’s going on with the patient right then.”

Aldrich says she and the development team continue to hear stories about early intervention, quicker care and avoiding code-blue status thanks to VitalsNow, which will continue to be deployed throughout HCA facilities in the coming months.

Virtual Sitter

Many patients are at risk for falls, and so require extra attention through the use of sitters. This can be a drain on staff time, which led to the search for a way to keep an eye on patients and also free up employees for other duties.

The Virtual Sitter program is meeting those goals. Piloted at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, the program involves the use of cameras mounted in a patient’s room, and then monitored elsewhere in the hospital. Staff input was sought throughout the testing process, and the end result is a program that improves patient safety and satisfaction, gives staff more time for other duties and reduces cost.

“We’re moving into our fourth hospital now, and we are exploring expanding,” Aldrich says. “It makes a lot of sense for some facilities, and we believe that this kind of monitoring is an effective solution.”