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Pediatric Home Service puts patient care at nurses’ fingertips with Google Apps and Chromebooks


Editor’s notice: Our visitor blogger is Rick Mueller, IT Supervisor for Pediatric Home Service, a provider of in-home nursing and medical care for medically-complex children based in Roseville, Minnesota. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Pediatric Home Service started offering in-home respiratory care for medically-complex children 23 years ago. Our founder, Susan Wingert, understood that kids thrive at home, not in the hospital, so we brought the medical care to them. Since then, we’ve expanded our services to include infusion therapy, pharmacy, nutrition, education, social work, and most recently private duty nursing. We help care for more than 3,400 children in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Over half of the 330 people on staff are skilled clinicians and nurses who spend their days in patient homes. Our clinicians do 99% of their charting and reporting electronically, so they need to securely access records right from the patient’s home in real-time. We used to install Windows laptops in some private duty nursing patient homes so nurses could log onto our records system, but that was costly and cumbersome.

When it was time to upgrade our old Microsoft Exchange Server two years ago, we looked at several options, and quickly realized moving to Google Apps would be the most secure, scalable and cost effective solution for our growing organization. We launched Apps in September 2011, starting with Gmail, Chat, Contacts and Calendar. During the rollout, we used the Google Guides program, where we trained a few power users who in turn helped their colleagues learn the ropes of Google Apps.

All of our employees loved Google Apps, so when it came time to upgrade the Windows laptops in the field, we replaced them with Chromebooks, including models from Acer and Samsung. The Chromebooks put critical information, including charts, medication lists and treatments, at the nurses’ fingertips. Many of them are installed in patient homes, enabling our private duty nurses to check Gmail as well as update charts in our Windows-based patient records system via Citrix.

From a cost perspective, we’ve saved over $17,000 buying the Chromebooks versus Windows laptops, but the real savings is ongoing. So far, we have saved at least $50,000 in soft costs due to decreased management and upkeep, and expect those savings to continue.

We plan to buy more Chromebooks and deploy them in our headquarters, our warehouse and among the facility staff. The IT team are all converts because Chromebooks require almost zero maintenance. We use the Management Console to remotely lock machines, get full visibility into usage and configure on-site wireless access. Chromebooks take 10 minutes to set up, and we spend 1/10th as much time maintaining Chromebooks as we do our Windows laptops.

Our nurses and clinicians have one top priority: taking care of the child. They don’t want to fiddle around with technology; they want technology that just works, and with Chromebooks, they’re empowered to better help kids and families thrive at home.