ObservSMART’s easy-to-use, proximity-based observation system makes monitoring behavioral healthcare patients simple and safe. It’s proven compliance technology tracks and records patient data, and allows users to set alerts specific to the needs of each individual. 

Christy K. Al-Nemah is the Director of Residential Operations at CHI Health, a leading behavioral healthcare facility in Bellevue, Nebraska. CHI Health provides long-term inpatient care for children, adolescents, and adults who require a high degree of care and supervision due to mental and behavioral health issues.

We asked Al-Nemah to describe her experience using ObservSMART in her facility, weigh in on the benefits of the system, and offer advice to behavioral health professionals who may be considering using ObservSMART in their own healthcare systems. 

A: I’m the Director of Residential Operations at CHI Health. We had been considering electronic monitoring in our facility for years until Robyn Conyers, VP Patient Care Services for Behavioral Health/Administrator, took the lead and looked into it further.

Electronic monitoring was always overlooked due to the high cost, so she was the biggest advocate for keeping it front-and-center for the board of directors. Consistent rounds save lives, especially in a mental health facility. It becomes second nature once the staff gets used to it. 

Relying on paper rounds made holding everyone accountable a significant challenge. As a leader in mental healthcare, we needed something that could improve our processes and keep every one of us accountable. 

We all knew that electronic rounds were an upgrade that would be truly beneficial for our facility. Once the board approved ObservSMART — after a lot of consideration — we began the back-end implementation process. The ObservSMART team came to us, learned about our program in detail, and helped us identify the best way to implement the system. We worked with them to educate our staff about the system and help them understand why electronic monitoring is important.

They were a little hesitant at first because they knew that they would be held accountable. As a leader, I let them know that the only true difference was that we were documenting patient checks on a tablet rather than paper. It was then that I realized how the paper rounds had been hurting our efficiency, and knew that this system would help us get on track.

Patient Safety Word Cloud

I don’t want to say that the rounds weren’t getting done with paper, but we truly had no way to be sure one way or another.

And now we know. 

The data collected by the ObservSMART system shows the activity within the facility on all levels: individually, as a unit, and as an organization. Their customer support is amazing; they check in with us, and they’re always available when we run into issues.

I am busy, so I don’t always get to check the data between calls and meetings. I try to check the reports ahead of my calls to set goals, but some things inevitably fall through the cracks. Safety is our number one priority, and ObservSMART has helped us meet the highest standards for everyone in our facility. 

After seeing how much safety has improved since we switched from paper, our staff understands why this system is so important. They have all of the information they need when they use the iPad to check on patients and keep up with recent developments for each individual — which is especially important when we have a float on the floor.

Puzzle People

Q: Could you give me a little more background on your role and how long you have been with CHI?

A: I have been here for a little over 34 years. I have held several positions here and on different units. I became the Director of Residential in 2012. I have my Master’s Degree in Rec Therapy and an Undergraduate degree in Counseling. I have always had a passion for kids, but I have worked all across the age span. 

Q: At CHI, how much of the population are kids or adolescents?

A: Our entire patient population is made up of kids. 

Q: What typically brings the kids into your facility?

A: We provide long-term in-patient care, so we see kids who need treatment for 90 days or longer. They can come from all different areas in Nebraska: referral, state, or juvenile. These are not acute cases that are immediate crises.

Q: What made you choose ObservSMART? And did you look into other options?

A: I didn’t personally research the company, though I know Robyn spoke to several different companies. We learned about ObservSMART and the different services they were able to provide and made sure that ObservSMART could handle all of the needs of our facility. 

Q: Tell me more about how the staff was resistant or hesitant at first and where they are now with using ObservSMART?

A: I knew that the staff would be apprehensive about it at first. Anything that changes up a routine can cause uncertainty, and there is definitely a learning curve. Most of the staff has adjusted and is doing quite well, though I do have a handful that hasn’t fully taken to it yet. I haven’t used the data against them because I believe that we need more data to show certain behaviors over a longer period of time, but I do use it to show them where they can improve.

We initially used the data to set KPIs for individuals and the facility as a whole. Now that some time has passed, I can go back and show the staff where they stand in comparison to the goals we have set. Using the data as a quality indicator to hold each individual accountable has been integral to our operations. We plan to start sending the staff their reports once a month to help everyone keep track of their goals.

Another Director that already does this says that she has seen great improvement in accountability. With ObservSMART, we now have data that helps us identify the employees with steady bad habits.

Another huge plus to ObservSMART is when the Joint Commission asks for our rounds — now we can show them the data and trust that it was accurately recorded. We know the Joint Commission will feel good about our transparency and accountability, so that takes some pressure in that area off of us.

Q: How long have you been using ObservSMART?

A: Two years in total. First, we had implementation and training, then we refined the process and are ensuring compliance. I hope that we can use this system throughout the entire hospital.

Q: What should other organizations know about ObservSMART if they are interested in investing in the system?

A: Patient safety is a huge factor. ObservSMART helps you to hold your staff accountable, and provides real-time information about each patient on the iPad. The team also does an excellent job working with our facility to customize the product to fit our needs. Having the right data available to us in an instant allows us to keep everyone in our unit as safe as possible.

Other products we have used required us to create the data. ObservSMART worked with us to build a system that keeps both our staff and our patients safe, and they provide amazing support when we need it. They collaborate with every aspect of our facility, and educate us about how to keep our process updated as the technology advances.

Tech-Enabled Patient Safety Checks

Al-Nemah offers valuable firsthand insights to what healthcare providers can expect when they use ObservSMART in their behavioral health facility. ObservSMART strives to ensure the safety of providers, staff, and their patients with tech-enabled patient monitoring and customizable data solutions. 

Paper patient tracking is an inefficient and outdated data-keeping system, and can result in preventable accidents and life-threatening situations. Using advanced technology to hold each staff member accountable and track accurate patient data in real-time ensures the safety of everyone in the facility.

Contact us today to learn more, or to request a demo.