Shelly's take on: On-Call Messaging for Healthcare
Published Jul 28 2021 07:23 AM 2,413 Views


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Hi again, if you have seen my other blogs thanks for coming back! If not, just a quick intro. I am a Healthcare Specialist across all solution areas at Microsoft with a focus on our largest Payor and Providers in the US.   


Over the past few years our health providers have adopted MS Teams as a secure messaging application for their health systems. Many customers see tremendous value in having a cross-company enterprise-wide chat application. Not only do they love to chat, but they also get value out of other features like video calling, collaboration, and meetings. All while providing them with a secure and HIPAA compliant way to communicate and collaborate.  


Recently, one unique challenge that Healthcare Providers experience is that their organizations are so big sometimes they don’t know who to contact. In normal circumnutates that is ok because they can “phone a friend” until they find the right person. However sometimes in healthcare that is not a luxury they have, then need to know the right person immediately.  


On-call schedules are important because they show who to call when you don’t know who to call. Since our customers have become accustomed to using MS Teams for their chat application, they would love to be able to use it for their on-call messaging too. Unfortunately, MS Teams out-of-the box is not aware of what the on-call schedule is and who is on the schedule at any given time.  

SO… how can we change that?  


We were able to solve this by is using a PowerApp pinned inside of MS Teams  


The Challenge  

Nurses, ED Doctors, and other providers need to streamline the ability to locate the on-call physician and send them a secure message. Today, we find that many health organizations store a physical schedule on a bulletin board or on a shared SharePoint site that is printed out each shift and stored at the nurse’s station for “quick” access. This has proven to be problematic because the printed schedule gets lost or misplaced. Also, the schedules change day to day and sometimes the updated schedule is not printed, or the SharePoint site is not easily accessible on a BYOD device.   


By working with our customers, we have found that providing an accessible on-call list allows the clinicians to contact on-call staff via chat, calling, or text would solve this problem.  


The business case is to reduce the time to engage specialists in ER, in turn, reducing the time the patient is in the hospital also reducing the noise from PA systems. Doctors all have smart phones with notifications, so creating a chat app that is accessible on any device will help improve this process. In addition, having the ability to quickly escalate to a voice or video call will reduce the need for an on-call physician to stop what they are doing to travel to patient locations. 


The Solution 

We built a PowerApp in Teams that allows a user to quickly access a list of on-call doctors and filter them by building, department, and on-call status. Other filters could be added or changed in this app to accommodate additional needs for your organization, but we wanted to showcase how filters could be used to quickly find the correct on-call doctor needed for each patient scenario.  

Once they find the correct physician, they are linked to MS Teams. Using Teams features the two individuals can chat, call, or video call to assess the patient situation to determine next course of action. 


For this example, we used MS Teams Dataverse for our data source of the on-call schedules, but we could easily connect to a 3rd party data source using PowerApps Premium connector to pull in an existing on call schedule. If you use Teams Dataverse then a regular O365 licenses is all that is needed, if you need to connect to a 3rd party on-call schedule such as Amion, SPOK or the like, and connect the app to that data source, it will require a PowerApps per user or per app licenses for all users who access the app. 


Here is a quick overview of the app and how it works.  


Tagging Based on Shifts in Teams 

Another option to communicate with on-call clinicians using a team within Microsoft Teams is tagging based on Shifts. This option is for on-call clinicians that are all part of the same team within Microsoft Teams, unlike the On-Call Messaging app, which can be used to contact on-call staff regardless of whether they are part of the same team. 



A significant portion of clinical workers operate on a shift schedule. These users often must connect with on-call physicians or other clinical workers on a different floor or different shift schedule and may not know which specific person should be contacted. The confusion around connecting with the right users at the right time leads to difficulty in collaborating and takes more time to connect with the right co-workers.  



By using tagging based on Shifts in Microsoft Teams, employees can alert, and tag workers based on role and shift if they are all members of the same team. Members of the team can also see which users are assigned tags based on shifts to contact the right individuals. This solution removes the need-to-know which clinicians are currently on their shift. Members of the Team can also see which users are tagged on shift, allowing the right users to be contacted at the right time. 


For example, if a nurse needs to contact the care coordinator for a specific patient but she is not sure which care coordinator is working at that time the nurse can message the “Care Coordinator” tag in Teams and then whichever coordinator is working at that time will get the message.  


For more information on how to set up tags in Teams based on Shifts check out this article 


Thanks for reading, Shelly Avery |EmailLinkedIn 


Also, a shout out to Erin Spencer for helping author this blog  

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‎Jul 27 2021 02:52 PM
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