Using Telephonic Rounding to Protect Staff/Patients and Preserve PPE

phone and healthcare symbols

Hospitals have had to face many challenges in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past three months. With resourcing and administrative changes, many organizations are looking for new ways to perform key processes such as rounding on patients during their stay.

Here’s how one health system used CipherHealth’s Crisis Response Solution for Patient Rounding to help their patients stay safe as well as preserve essential staff resources and equipment.

Pre-COVID Situation

The health system’s existing rounding program had a goal to visit 100% of their patients during the week, resources permitting. They managed this by having every charge nurse, supervisor, assistant manager and manager as a part of the rounding team, and tasked them with proactively identifying potential safety or experience issues.

It was important for them to not sacrifice rounding during the COVID-19 response; however, it became clear that their standard process would no longer work given the evolving crisis.

Managing the Crisis 

In order to prepare for the potential influx of COVID-19 patients, like many providers, this hospital system had to adjust processes, procedures, and even locations to accommodate the rapidly changing needs of patients and staff.

While so much change was occurring and anxiety was mounting, the health system was determined to maintain communications between patients and staff to alleviate any concerns and ensure the continuation of the highest quality of care, as well as comfort patients who were isolated due to COVID-19.

They turned to CipherHealth’s Crisis Response Solution for Patient Rounding to begin telephonic rounding with patients.

Adapting Rounding Processes During COVID-19

This health system was considering changing their existing rounding script to accommodate telephonic rounding across all units, but some staff members were hesitant to change their established procedures. However, after speaking with CipherHealth’s CNO Lisa Romano, who shared the positive impact telephonic rounding could have, they realized how urgent the situation was.

“With stringent precautions in place to limit visitors, as well as reduce the number of staff going in and out of patients’ rooms, hospitals are facing a new challenge in patients feeling more socially isolated. If feasible, calling patients on hospital phones can help connect with them in a different way, while maintaining infection control policies and preserving PPE. 

As with all rounding, calls should focus on proactive issue resolution and allowing the voice of the patient to be heard; even more importantly, simply letting that patient know that they are not alone, something especially important for combating social isolation and support of the healing process. Rounding scripts could be modified to reflect the challenges we are now facing, rather than be discontinued.Lisa Romano, MSN, RN, CNO CipherHealth

Gradually, the nurses began using the updated scripts. With some encouragement from management, they understood it was just a different way for them to go about a process that was already ingrained in their hospital’s culture. Plus, a big benefit for them was that they didn’t have to change their PPE as often, since they had been changing it every time they visited a patient’s room.

CipherHealth quickly added new users to the telephone rounding program, and enabled the health system to add new rounders as needed. The script also needed to be quickly revised to one version that could be used across all units. Understanding the urgency of the situation, CipherHealth ensured the program was up and running within four days. 

Gathering data on the new rounding approach was essential to understanding if it was a worthwhile practice to continue. Previously, they had been using multidisciplinary scripts for each department, then pared this down to one script. This script could be standardized, thereby leading to more consistent data capture and response. 

Key Takeaways From Implementing a Telephonic Rounding Program

To gain momentum around a telephonic rounding program, it is valuable to have a nurse leader explain the external situation and the value this process can provide to patients and their families. Additionally, having leadership share and demonstrate the importance of the process will help to encourage staff members.

It can also be helpful to designate one person to start (someone who could be reallocated from a different team, i.e., someone who’s pregnant or needs to limit their amount or walking or movement) and then gradually build the pool of telephone rounders. 

To ensure your organization is still capturing meaningful data and able to perform rapid service recovery, encourage the use of one standardized script across units that is adapted for telephone rounds instead of in-person. Because this is a new process and may feel unfamiliar, you can overcome staff resistance to change by starting gradually and making sure they understand the value of the new procedures for keeping patients connected and themselves safe. 

The COVID-19 crisis has provided an opportunity to revisit and re-establish goals when it comes to patient care. What’s important now might not have been as important before, as the “new normal” places an even greater priority on patient engagement and technology. 

Join us for our upcoming webinar with Lisa Romano, “Roadmap to Recovery: Purposeful Rounding in the Time of COVID-19” and learn how to adapt your rounding approaches to address post-peak pandemic phases with strategic focus to drive safe experiences and address care gap needs.


Meaningfully connect with your patients to deliver more personalized, intelligent and timely care at scale