Version 6 - Using BlueNote
The problem: Commanding immediate attention in your practice
Clinical software is designed around patient data: scheduling, services, fees, and records. But it doesn’t generally keep your office running on schedule. There’s no way to tell a doctor which patient is to be seen next, or to ask a quick billing question, or to call a clinician into a room at the very moment they’re needed.
Practices need a way for front office staff to communicate instantly with the entire team, and for clinicians to alert one another when an action is needed.
The solution: BlueNotes
BlueNote Communicator began in 2005 with the help of dozens of practitioners who had recently brought computers into their treatment rooms and wanted a modern intra-office communication system instead of outdated wired light panels, walkie-talkies, or door flags. Because of the color of the notes, the name that was chosen for the alert system was simple and obvious: BlueNotes.
Over the years, BlueNotes have changed shape and even function as computer operating systems have advanced, but the singular quest for simplicity continues to drive the software towards its current form.
Using the Light Panel
In a busy practice you never know where some of your staff members will be! They move around frequently from room to room and so pegging them down to one location is completely unrealistic. Others may sit at a single computer the entire day and so communicating with them is consistent and reliable.
Because of this, BlueNote Communicator also uses two modes of communication: Lights and Conversations. Lights are for the people who move around frequently, because the communications persist at every location. Conversations are more stationary, meaning that they flow from station to station. Of course, there will be times that a topic is more suitable for a Conversation, and other times when a stationary person may need to use a Light. The next section explains how each of these modes work.
The main interface of the software is dominated by Lights. These are single-click buttons that make communications instant and simple.
When you activate a Light, three things will happen at every computer that is networked with BlueNote Communicator:
- The Light will begin to flash
- An audible tone plays that can be heard throughout the office*
- A Popup with the Light’s text will appear in the lower right-hand corner*
How long has a Light been turned on?
By tapping on the flashing light you will be able to see the numerical value of how many minutes has elapsed since the Light was activated.
Lights also age over time. This means that you can instantly see which Lights deserve priority over others.
New Light: Green
Aging Light: Orange
Old Light: Red
This aging encourages everyone in the practice to clear lights as quickly as possible.
How do I acknowledge a Light?
When you click on an active Light you’ll be presented with an options window that allows you to:
- Clear the Light. This is the most common response.
- Respond to the Light by typing a free-form message and then Posting the attachment. This will cause the light to scroll between the main message and the new attachment and re-activate the alert and Popup. This can be done back and forth, multiple times, on an active Light, until it is cleared. Only the last response will scroll on the Light Panel or exist in the Popup.
- Refresh: replay the Tone and display the Popup again
- Escalate: attach urgency to the Light by making the text flash and become more prominent
- Adding a Color Tag: these may indicate additional priority, a person, or even signals such as whether or not a room needs to be turned over.
- Quick Messaging: choose text from a list instead of typing commonly used acknowledgements and responses
How do I add information to a Light before I activate it?
Right-click the Light to bring up its options window, where you can add text, a color tag, or even immediately escalate it.
How do I sequence Lights in the order they were posted?
A Sequenced View window is available from the panel menu. Click the Time/Date bar or the upper right sidebar button to slide the Light Panel over and reveal the sidebar. Each Light is time-stamped and colored according to its aging. Not only can you better visualize your priority Lights, it’s also a great way to see any added text that may be posted to each Light.
Is there a History window?
Yes. It’s also accessed from the Time/Date bar or the upper right sidebar button.
History displays all active, updated and cleared Lights, and even calculates the amount of time it takes to clear each one.
If you like you can Export the history into spreadsheets at regular intervals to provide overviews of your workflow efficiency.
How many Lights are available?
The software sizes itself to the number of Lights that are programmed. You can have as few as 12 Lights or as many as 60, depending on your needs. There are two panels available, each containing up to 30 Lights. When the second panel is active the Panel Tabs on either side of the Time/Date bar gives you toggling access to the additional Lights.
As you may suspect, Conversations are a very natural way to pass information from one person to another in your practice. A list of all the computers currently online with BlueNote Communicator appears within the Conversations window.
How do I start a Conversation?
You can open a conversation with a single person, or with many people at once.
Click the Conversations bar at the bottom of the Light Panel to open up the Conversations window and highlight all the names that will receive your message. Type or paste your text where prompted. You can only Send if you’ve first chosen at least one recipient.
The Conversation will display at the recipient’s location as a Popup, as well as on the Conversations window.
How do I reply to a Conversation?
Simply double-click on the Conversation within your own Conversation window, compose your response, and then hit Respond. The Conversation will automatically thread itself within the window, with the most recent Conversation/Reply thread highlighted at the top.
You can reply to any previous Conversation within the window or even begin a new one by clicking on one or more names in the list.
Can I change the names that appear in Conversations?
Yes. You’ll need to go to Menu>Options>General and change the Light Panel Name. By default the Windows User name at each computer will display instead.
How can I organize names within Conversations?
Normally the Conversation list will sort alphabetically, but you can also sort by color. Go to Menu>Options>Conversations and select a conversation color group for that computer. If each computer has been designated in a color group then the names will be first sorted by color, then by name.
What are the Headphones in the Conversations list?
The Headphone icon indicates that another user is in Do Not Disturb (DND) mode. This means that all of their Popups and Tones have been disabled, and is especially helpful to use when the computer is being dedicated to a higher priority program, such as the input of patient data.
To use your own Do Not Disturb button, you’ll find it to the right of the main Menu button. Do Not Disturb appears yellow when toggled on. Press it a second time to turn it off. While in Do Not Disturb mode, the Light Panel will also stay behind all other programs so as not to interrupt.