Throughout my 20 years in healthcare, I’ve been impressed by the family-oriented nature of this industry. The close friendships I’ve developed with coworkers, partners and hospital employees over the years make events like last week’s HIMSS17 in Orlando so special. The annual health IT conference is a great opportunity to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in years, touch base with Voalte customers, and discuss clinical workflow and alarm management with anyone who wants to improve care collaboration and patient care at their hospital.
In Orlando last week, I bumped into a friend I worked with years ago at Emergin, the first alarm notification middleware vendor (now part of Philips). We caught up on family news and mutual friends before turning to some of the exciting technology advancements in alarm management. We also discussed the fact that while some things have changed radically since those days, others have remained remarkably the same.
Back in the day, Emergin was the only company creating solutions to manage alarms and alerts from multiple systems. Today, many companies are trying to streamline the deluge of alarms and alerts generated by physiological monitors, nurse call, medical devices and the electronic medical record. Leading the way is our partner Connexall, which KLAS ranked No. 1 in Alarm Management last month.
Caregivers are also pushing the envelope by demanding more than a standard alarm with a room number. “Room 202 VTACH” simply doesn’t convey enough information to a busy nurse who is caring for several patients in different rooms across a large unit. By contrast, new technology integrations like the one we announced a couple weeks ago with Connexall and Bernoulli give clinicians instant access to actionable patient information so they can respond appropriately. This unique integration means alarms can include physiological data with additional numeric parameters such as heart rate and respiratory rate, as well as corresponding waveforms showing exactly what is happening with the patient in real time. This is one of the biggest advancements we’ve seen in alarm management in years, and it helps alleviate the alarm fatigue caused by nurses receiving too many alarms without sufficient information.
On the other hand, some areas of alarm management and event notification haven’t seen much progress over the years. I recently came across the first middleware diagram I used during my Emergin days. It’s striking that 20 years ago we were integrating simple TAP outputs from nurse call systems to Motorola pagers, and today we’re doing essentially the same thing, but sending that information to smartphones. The fact is, many hospitals are still working on a strategy to integrate nurse call and patient monitors to a mobile communication device. I’m proud that Voalte Clinical Workflow Solutions pairs our in-house team of Registered Nurses with customers so they can benefit from our years of best practices in deploying alarm management and communication solutions that impact patient outcomes.
Another big challenge I still see in hospitals all over the country involves staff assignments. Hospitals are still hampered by assignments in siloed systems that don’t talk to one another. Instead of solving this problem, vendors have made it more difficult by positioning their own products to do staff assignments, rather than coming up with a way to share assignments. At Voalte, we believe each healthcare organization should decide where to make assignments, whether in the electronic medical record (EMR), the alarm management middleware or Voalte Platform. That’s why we are working with Connexall and the leading EMR companies to do the right thing for our customers and figure out once and for all how to share assignments across multiple systems.
The healthcare industry is like no other in that it’s fundamentally dedicated to taking care of our families, our friends and every one of us. I’m confident that we can come together to give our customers choices, integrate different systems, and ultimately, benefit healthcare organizations and the industry as a whole.
Eric Brill is General Manager of Clinical Solutions at Voalte.