According to the ECRI Institute, “many preventable errors in healthcare come down to a failure to communicate.” Data from the Department of Defense, The Joint Commission and other agencies support that statement, attributing between 50 and 80 percent of serious patient events to communication failures.
At the ANCC Magnet Conference last week, I spoke with nursing leaders about how smartphone solutions like Voalte Platform offer ways to reduce preventable errors and improve communication in medical settings. The potential increases almost exponentially when a communication platform is integrated with other systems, such as alerts and alarms, biomedical devices, labs and pharmacy, and electronic health records (EHRs).
Let’s take a quick look at some of the innovative ways hospitals are using technology to make clinical communications more efficient and provide clinicians with critical patient information and tools.
- In New York, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, smartphones integrated with Connexall alarm management middleware and AirStrip waveforms let nurses see what’s on a patient’s monitor from wherever they are on the floor.
- To more quickly respond to pediatric patients’ seizures, a new workflow protocol was developed at UCSF Health in San Francisco. When a family member or caregiver presses a “seizure button” on the patient room wall, every member of the rapid response team, including a Pharmacist, receives an alert on a Voalte smartphone. The team can run immediately to the room to expedite administration of vital medications, and can call back into the room to speak with the nurse or family while en route. This workflow allows for closed-loop communication that helps decrease the stress and anxiety of everyone in the room, in addition to supporting the best patient care.
- Many hospitals are now using smartphones to provide nurses and physicians with instant access to drug information. One result: A recent survey of nurse managers by Zebra Technologies found that the use of mobile devices cut medication administration errors by 61 percent and preventable medical errors by 46 percent.
- The University of Kansas Health System used Voalte Platform to consolidate care team communications, including alarm notifications, across its main hospital and other locations. The effort included standardizing channels for communication hand-offs, which contributed to its becoming the nation’s first comprehensive cardiac care center certified by The Joint Commission.
- Another new development in patient safety is 24/7 monitoring of patients’ physiological data by medical professionals from a remote command center. A smartphone platform is integrated with a desktop application, EHR access and other patient-data capabilities. Armed with that information, the offsite monitors can immediately alert the onsite clinical team at the first sign of trouble. One example is Nemours Children’s Hospital, which has a staff of paramedics who can monitor more than 200 patients at both its Orlando and Wilmington, Delaware, hospitals. The paramedics’ screens display nurse calls and alarms, and they escalate any unanswered alarms according to a set of protocols. The screens also show each patient’s sepsis score, and the paramedics can use a group text function to immediately contact the sepsis team.
When it comes to patient care, information is vital. But it needs to be in the right hands the moment the care team needs it. Smartphones, when fully integrated with patient data, can help make that happen, giving clinicians’ the tools they need to make the best decision for the patient in real time.
Dana Peco, MSN, BSN, CCRN, is Clinical Solutions Specialist at Voalte.