Back in 2005, The Joint Commission identified poor communication in hospitals as a root cause of sentinel events. Since that time, in accordance with HITECH and the Affordable Care Act, healthcare organizations have made great strides toward the adoption of health information technology and the Meaningful Use of electronic health records. The industry also has focused on meeting the National Patient Safety Goal for alarm management, and implementing mobile technologies to help nurses, physicians and other staff communicate more quickly and efficiently. So the problem of poor communication has been solved, right?
Unfortunately, in spite of our advancements in digitization and mobility, patients are still being harmed. The Joint Commission and ECRI Institute cited clinical communication breakdowns as a major cause of patient harm in 2016. The number of preventable patient deaths total in excess of 250,000 per year, which is more than a fully loaded 747 crashing every day. We’ve all seen the “wall-to-wall” coverage our cable news networks devote to an aviation disaster, so where is the public outcry on this topic?
Fundamental changes are just the beginning.
In today’s digital healthcare world, the ways of doing business and delivering care have fundamentally changed, yet we still need to do more. Healthcare organizations must move beyond simply recording data in the electronic health record and adopting new communication tools. By integrating information in the EHR with medical device alarms, Connexall can pair contextual information about the patient with a physiological event and inform the mobile caregiver in preparation for response to the event at the point of care. Connexall can also deliver critical lab results and stat orders directly to the assigned care team, speeding notification and assuring accuracy in the information conveyed.
In the most recent stage of healthcare evolution, we have moved from stationary to mobile by placing computing power in the hands of our healthcare workers. Consider that the Apple® iPhone 7 has 120 million times more processing power than the computer that controlled the Apollo spacecraft and its lunar module when we landed on the moon. Our partner Voalte has led the drive toward mobility in the healthcare setting by making smartphones for caregiver communication a truly valuable asset, presenting actionable information on a mobile communication platform.
Partnerships such as those between Connexall and Voalte are integral to the healthcare industry’s ability to effectively harness meaningful data, and draw conclusions that streamline workflows and positively impact the delivery of care. Together, we are working on improvements related to workflow as an outcome of communication, which involves integrating disparate hospital systems so data is accessible to the appropriate caregiver and actionable at the appropriate time.
In March, a Premier C-Suite Survey found that health system leaders are focused on “moving from meaningful use to meaningful insight.” The survey of healthcare CEOs, CIOs, CMOs and other leaders found:
- 53 percent will increase efforts to integrate data from disparate sources
- 50 percent will increase efforts to improve interoperability
- 47 percent will increase use of technology to support risk-based contracts
Correlating information to increase patient safety.
Utilizing Connexall’s enterprise event-management platform to integrate disparate systems and improve interoperability, and Voalte’s communication platform to power care team coordination and deliver important patient information, healthcare organizations can begin to meet these goals. As we’ve gotten smarter about how we use technology, we’ve learned that 90 percent of alarms are non-actionable. We know that we don’t need to send a caregiver everything; we only need to send what’s important.
By correlating information from the sources to which we are connected, we can implement techniques that reduce alarm fatigue and increase patient safety. Consider fall-risk mitigation as an example. The average cost of a patient fall is $14,000. By correlating the patient’s Morse Fall Scale Risk to his or her bed configuration, we can help mitigate the incidence of falls, and therefore improve patient safety while reducing the attendant costs of falls to the provider organization.
Another example of the impact of correlative data and predictive analytics is in the Cardiac space. While a PVC (premature ventricular contraction) alarm may not be actionable, we can indicate that in combination with a low potassium level, that same alarm becomes critical, requiring immediate attention.
At this point, every healthcare organization understands the importance of implementing new technologies for electronic health records, alarm management and clinical communication. Now it’s time to focus on how the industry integrates these systems in a way that optimizes the investments in technology and ensures patients are receiving the best – and safest – levels of care.
John Elms is President of Connexall USA, and is an accomplished executive with 25 years of senior leadership experience in the high-tech industry. Since establishing Connexall USA, John has guided the company to a leading market share position and the Number 1 KLAS rating among middleware vendors, attaining a position in the top 4 percent of all vendors rated by KLAS.