John Elms, President of Connexall USA, moderated a lively panel discussion this afternoon at VUE15 on how secondary alarm notification systems and mobile communication can improve patient care. I was pleased to participate as a panelist, along with Melita Howell, Manager of Medical Device Integration at Texas Children’s Hospital, and Debbie Harman, RNC, BA, CBC, Clinical Manager of Neonatal Services at Sarasota Memorial Health Care.
Topics included The Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goal for alarm management, routing and escalation, customized parameters and avoiding alarm fatigue. One subject we discussed at length was the need to look at and analyze data first and put a clinical design in place. Otherwise, you’re setting your nurses up for alarm fatigue.
Debbie explained that her NICU unit at Sarasota Memorial started by deciding which alarms should come to the Voalte smartphones, how to escalate alarms, and the timeframes for escalation. “Ultimately, we need to know that the nurse feels safe, and that each patient is safe. That involved doing lots and lots of simulations before going live with an alarm-management system.”
As an IT manager, Melita added, “I thank all the nurses who have driven us IT geeks to make things better for the patient. We need to build systems that work from the perspective of nurses.”
The panel also covered the role vendors play, particularly in integrating different systems and collaborating on alarm and alert solutions.
Melita admitted to being “ruthless” with vendors who implement systems at Texas Children’s. “We support very complex nurse workflows,” she said. “Our vendor selection process involves detailed, onsite functional and technical sessions that drive vendors to show they can support different workflows on different units.”
Debbie added, “Before we ask a vendor to tell us what we need, we have to know our own data so we understand where our focus should be. A lot of the responsibility is on each hospital. At the same time, vendors can’t just hand you a box to implement and walk away. They need to come and sit on each unit, learn the culture and see how it works.”
From a vendor perspective, I believe it’s our duty to coordinate all stakeholders and put in place technology that actually works together. At Voalte, we’re committed to doing just that.
Eric Brill is General Manager of Clinical Solutions at Voalte.