A Remote Clinical Lead Named “Flo” Helps Hospitals Implement Early Warning and Telehealth Tools Designed to Help Nurses Manage Patients; Delivers a Welcome Distraction

While clinicians rely more than ever on technology to help provide adequate care safely, hospital quarantines have rendered it near impossible to deploy new tools at the bedside, until Flo.  Flo is PeriGen’s Virtual Clinical Lead and she is helping hospitals across the country install PeriGen’s early warning and telehealth tools to help Labor and Delivery units cope with staff shortages and fear of infection.  Clinicians and even patients love interacting and taking pictures with Flo, who looks suspiciously like an IV-pole with a bolted-on tablet computer and sometimes a scrub cap.

Named for Florence Nightingale, the iconic pioneer of modern nursing (from a suggestion by a PeriGen client), Flo enables the company’s clinical leads to offer the same services they normally do to hospital labor and delivery (L&D) departments during implementation without the need to enter the facility. These services include clinical configuration, distance education, and clinical ­support during go-live.

“Many of us here at PeriGen are former bedside clinicians ourselves, and in March we realized that hospital operations across the entire country could be shut down if COVID-19 reached pandemic levels,” said Alana McGolrick, DNP, RNC-OB, C-EFM, Chief Nursing Officer at PeriGen. “PeriGen systems are critical patient safety tools and we knew we had to find a way to keep protecting mothers, babies and clinicians even without crossing the threshold of the hospital.  We started brainstorming for a simple, quick solution and that was the genesis of Flo.”

The original “prototype” for Flo was an iPad Dr. McGolrick duct taped to an IV pole. This arrangement enabled her (PeriGen always refers to Flo as “her”) to easily move from the nurses’ station to the education classroom to the bedside or wherever else she is needed. On the other side, a PeriGen Clinical Lead uses voice and video to advise registered nurses and IT staff on the best ways to solve clinical and technical issues. Flo gives PeriGen a constant on-site presence without bringing any additional risk to its client, patients, or its own staff.

Despite her humble beginnings, Flo was an immediate hit with the nurses and patients.

“The nurses loved the interactive nature and the fact that they could move Flo wherever they needed,” Dr. McGolrick says. “The patients were simply amused by the concept. They would wave to the Virtual Clinical Leads when Flo entered the room. But I think they also appreciated the fact that we were keeping them and their babies safe by not introducing another person into the room who wasn’t providing direct care.”

PeriGen now has seven Flos in action and is readying more.  The complete Flo kit consists of an IV pole, tablet, a clamping system, charging and connection cables, extension cords and other sundry hardware. There is also a fun, simple sign that attaches to the IV pole to introduce Flo to those who don’t know her and add a bit of additional friendliness to the entire experience; hospital staff have taken to decorating her along the way. The complete kit comes pre-configured  and packed in a heavy-duty flight case to ensure all components are thoroughly protected during shipping.

“COVID-19 has changed healthcare delivery forever, especially for mission-critical inpatient care such as labor and delivery” said Matthew Sappern, CEO of PeriGen.  “Mothers are still having babies and now nurses have to protect the mother, baby and themselves from the virus.  Flo helps PeriGen provide safer systems and in a safer, effective way.”