Hospitals and other acute care environments face the constant challenge of delivering optimal patient care while also increasing efficiencies and controlling costs. Attempts to strike this balance have led to the creation of new health care philosophies and approaches to conquer the complex issues the industry faces:
- An aging population with greater access to medical information and higher expectations for care
- Chronic and complex disease management
- Compliance with new government regulations
- Escalating costs
- Shortage of physicians, nurses and pharmacists
- Burnout and job dissatisfaction among current clinicians
From our perspective, technology is the key to improving patient outcomes while maximizing efficiency.
Alerts within a hospital originate from a number of systems — from fire and security to code blue and infant abduction. Each of these systems includes alerting/notification capabilities, but most operate independent of each other even though alerting equipment and associated processes are often redundant. Because emergency code notification is typically a manual process, delays and omissions of critical information can occur. And duplication increases maintenance costs, thus reducing the ROI of each system.
With situational awareness technology, disparate alarm systems, including those used for patient monitoring, can be integrated to provide a single point of alarm management for enhanced alerting and reporting. One common alerting platform helps clinicians quickly assess, prioritize and respond to alarms, which enhances workflow management and the delivery of patient care. And because alerts can be delivered directly to clinicians’ mobile devices, they won’t be tied to a nurses’ station or panel waiting for an alert to occur, nor will they have to rely on multiple alerting devices.
Now let’s look at emergency codes, which typically are communicated to a group of people over a PA system or radio network through PBX switchboard operators. Because of this manual process, notification can be delayed. But if emergency codes are communicated directly — and automatically — to the appropriate staff, delays can be avoided. Any monitored device (e.g., nurse call, telemetry, mobile duress, smart bed, etc.) can be pre-assigned to alert the appropriate group with those alerts delivered to their handsets, pagers or preferably smartphones with intuitive dashboards. Mobility like this, or situational awareness on the go, is critical to the future of health care.
And with situational awareness technology, there’s no need to rip out and replace existing systems or devices when a Web-based solution can integrate with existing communication infrastructure to leverage the investments already made. No longer in silos, alarm and communication systems work together and are expanded for even greater ROI.
For example, the addition of wireless sensors on HVAC units, power generators and refrigerators for medication and blood gives you environmental monitoring to prevent the loss of valuable inventories, as well as patient and staff comfort. As your safety, security and environmental monitoring needs evolve, you can easily add coverage areas and new sensors or integrate other systems.
The right technology solution will include robust integration tools and be backed by a technology partner with the computer-telephony expertise to customize the application to the health care facility’s unique needs, desired outcomes and existing infrastructure. Situational awareness is that technology.