Communication in hospitals can sometimes be as important as medicine, because breakdowns contribute to 50% to 80% of the most serious and harmful patient events. No wonder The Joint Commission has again put improvements in staff communication on its short list of 2019 Hospital National Patient Safety Goals.
For a fast-growing number of hospitals, they key to minimizing communication errors and delays can be summed up in two words: Go mobile. One survey last year found that 90% of hospitals are planning significant investments in smartphones and secure mobile communication platforms. Another found that, by 2022, nurses and IT decision-makers expect 97% of nurses in acute care hospitals will be using mobile devices at the bedside.
On its 2018 list of Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns, ECRI Institute ranked “Incorporating Health IT into Patient Safety Programs” No. 5, noting that, “like so many preventable errors in healthcare, these risks come down to a failure to communicate.” More and more hospitals today are using integrated smartphone platforms in their patient safety initiatives to minimize these breakdowns and expedite quality care.
Here are five ways smartphones are helping hospitals advance caregiver connections to improve patient safety.
- Alarm fatigue. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses calls alarm fatigue a “significant threat to patient safety.” At Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, implementing a new smartphone alarm management strategy in its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit reduced alarms per nurse per shift by 33%. And at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the use of suspend alarm triggers and well-designed alarm escalation pathways on nurses’ smartphones reduced tachycardia alarms by 78%.
- Medical errors. In a recent survey of nurse managers, the use of mobile devices resulted in:
- 61% fewer medication errors
- 52% fewer specimen collection errors
- 46% fewer preventable medical errors
- Time by the bedside. In a survey conducted in partnership with American Nurse Today, 58% of nurse leaders reported that the most significant impact of mobile communication was giving nursing staff more time to spend caring for patients, while 28% said the biggest benefit was fewer patient care errors.
- Response times. One study found that patients on average were discharged 26 minutes faster if their doctors received lab results on their smartphones. By integrating physician scheduling on its Voalte smartphone platform, University of Kentucky HealthCare nurses were able to connect with appropriate providers 7 minutes and 12 seconds faster per outreach compared to the previous process without smartphones.
- Pressure injuries. At University of Washington Valley Medical Center, the use of smartphones led to a 42% reduction in hospital-acquired pressure ulcers.
Information is the lifeblood of patient care, and it is most valuable when used and shared efficiently by physicians and nurses. Contact us to learn the many ways a communication platform can lead to improvements in patient safety at your hospital or health system.