Client Interview with Earl Auty, Chief Nursing Officer at Stonecrest Center in Detroit, Mich.

How ObservSMART Technology has Revolutionized Rounding, Compliance, and Patient Safety

Consistent rounding in behavioral health facilities can save lives. The data tells us that it leads to fewer sentinel events and falls, less hospital risk, and enhanced patient safety. Despite the critical need for consistent rounding, historically, it wasn’t always easy to tell if rounds were completed properly. That’s precisely the problem ObservSMART was developed to solve. 

Earl Auty is the Chief Nursing Officer at Stonecrest Center in Detroit, Michigan. A longtime veteran of the nursing community, Auty initially struggled with a lack of patient data when he stepped into a new role as Chief Nurse. When patient incidents occurred, he wasn’t able to tell what exactly happened and where staff were during an incident. 

In researching ways to improve rounding, he discovered ObservSMART technology and implemented it in his facility. Read our interview with Auty to learn about the challenges he faced at Stonecrest and how ObservSMART technology has revolutionized rounding, compliance, and patient safety in Auty’s workplace.

How ObservSMART Improves Patient Safety at Stonecrest Center

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

A: I am an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, practicing for 35 years, and on the board for 12 years. I have been in psychiatry for the last 7.5 years.

Earl Auty

Q: How did you end up at Stonecrest? 

A: Yes. I came in as a consultant to create 12-hour shifts — they were originally on 8-hour shifts — and to open a new unit. Three or four months into my contract, I was asked to step in to be an interim Chief Nurse. I did this initially, and it became permanent. … One thing [that was different] was how patients were monitored. I was previously in telemetry and was used to having access to patient data. At StoneCrest, they didn’t have this accessibility. 

So one of the things that bothered me was how patients were monitored here. Even though they weren’t especially urgent, we still needed to monitor them more regularly. It took a few years for me to get a good understanding of how things were going and how they could change. We had incidents that occurred, especially at night. When these incidents happened, I became aware of different ways to improve these incidents: compliance with rounding, cameras and such 

Q: That leads me to two questions: 1. How did emerging technologies influence what you were looking for in regards to patient safety? 2. What lead you to ObservSMART?

A: Actually, psychiatry is in the dark ages when it comes to technology — especially when it comes to the patient. The psych setting doesn’t seem to have a high priority of patient-centered technology. I was researching better ideas for rounding, not necessarily technology. But every time I looked, ObservSMART kept coming up. I inquired and learned a little about the ObservSMART solution. 

Q: So, after your first inquiry [online], what were the next steps? Did you do a demo? 

A: I talked to different salespeople about different technologies. The biggest difference with ObservSMART is it was designed by two psych nurses, which makes a huge difference in how it operates. I found out that another Acadia Healthcare facility, Belmont Behavioral Health System, was using ObservSMART. I spoke with them and asked for the pros and cons. I inquired about more facilities that were [using it] and was able to get in touch with Tammy, ObservSMART’s representative in the Midwest, and she gave me a demonstration. We originally did a trial, and then went live in all 11 units. 

Patient onboarding success

Q: How was your onboarding experience for both staff and patients? 

A: It was a very positive experience. My fear was that we were implementing too much across too many units. We started with 2 units, and the onboarding team was super helpful in the process. I was guided well. 

The IT team customized the iPad for Stonecrest — that was 50 iPads. It was seamless, and that made a huge impact. The person that has been most essential for me is Shaina, ObservSMART’s Customer Success Manager. She was by far the most accessible and the best troubleshooting individual. She is instrumental in the success of this product, especially for us. 

She has helped us on software updates and helped make all of this seamless so it doesn’t affect patient care. Talking to one individual rather than a help desk is amazing. She provides a level of support that is above and beyond. You really need that customer support if things arise after onboarding. And ObservSMART’s support is very helpful. 

Q: You mentioned the proximity issue, how important is that to you?

A: When we first set it up, the recommendation was 3-foot range after 9 p.m. and 6-foot after 7 a.m. I think that was essential to the success of rounding and doing what they really needed to do. 

Q: We know you are looking at retirement coming up. We wanted to know if you have any words of advice for patient safety to leave for your peers or colleagues?

A: All my staff are very involved in the process and have been from the get-go. Nothing will be left as a surprise to them. I think they all value the system and the ability of the system to generate reports, but also the safety of the staff. If something were to happen to a patient, the first question we ask is where was the staff.

Nurse with ipad doing safety checks


ObservSMART was created by behavioral health professionals, for behavioral health professionals. In mental health hospitals and in-patient treatment centers, patient safety is of the utmost importance. ObservSMART technology ensures patient safety and workplace compliance through its innovative proximity-based rounding system.  

ObservSMART has been a tremendous asset at Stonecrest Center, and over 90 other behavioral health facilities — and emergency departments — around the country. Contact us today for a demo to discover how ObservSMART can change your workplace for the better.