As care delivery becomes more complex, it’s more important than ever for health systems to identify new, efficient ways to coordinate care for a greater number of patients. That’s one reason we’re seeing explosive growth in centralized telemetry units, where technicians watch banks of monitors for crucial signals on each patient’s clinical condition. By generating real-time, actionable alerts directly to the appropriate nurse, monitor technicians can support patient care when the nurse is not in the room.
Tampa General Hospital, which has used Voalte communication solutions for four years, opened a new 8,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art command center in August. At last year’s Voalte User Experience conference (VUE18), Dr. Peter Chang, CMIO, detailed how Tampa General’s CareComm center, in partnership with GE Healthcare, uses world-class technology, including remote clinical monitoring, to maximize patient capacity, increase quality of care and extend coordination across the care continuum.
Another Voalte customer, Nemours Children’s Health, relies on a central monitoring hub to track vital signs of patients in its Orlando hospital as well as patients 1,000 miles away in its Wilmington, Delaware, facility. Last year at VUE18, we featured a video showing how the Nemours Clinical Logistics Center integrates with Philips patient monitoring to send urgent notifications to the appropriate caregiver.
As numbers of patients rise and clinical support staffing drops industry-wide, caregivers can become overwhelmed by alerts, and alarm fatigue can be a safety concern. All these factors combine to make effective clinical communication more vital than ever. This year at VUE19, Kevin Spolini of UCSF Health will continue the conversation on telemetry notifications, showing how the medical center is sending Excel Medical waveforms via Voalte alerts. Kevin and his team have done an amazing job using voice, text and alerting technologies to ensure that when a nurse is in another room far away from a patient who is alarming, Voalte comes into play to close that distance instantly.
Even as the nurse begins to walk toward the patient’s room, he or she can look at the waveform to see if the patient really is in V-tach, for example, or if it’s a false alarm. Using the Accept and Call Monitor Tech button, a critical handshake can take place between the nurse and the technician to ensure they are both comfortable that the patient is receiving appropriate attention. With this “closed-loop” communication system, we can avoid gaps that previously impacted response to patients.
This is a major improvement in care compared with the traditional way of monitoring patients. Previously in many hospitals, the Unit Secretary would make staff assignments on the unit floor and then fax a hard copy sheet to the Central Monitoring Unit. The Monitor Techs would then make copies of the assignment sheet, tape them on their station or place them in a binder for that particular shift.
When an alarm occurred for a patient, the Monitor Tech would have to look up which RN is assigned and what their phone number is for today’s shift. Typically, they would call the RN’s phone and if the RN didn’t answer they then would try to call the central station of the unit and figure out how to get somebody to attend to the patient. This “round and round” communication could sometimes take minutes before a caregiver is actually in the room, addressing the alarm situation and caring for the patient. Because RNs are so busy, this happens frequently and creates stress for the Monitor Techs who are trying to save patient’s lives. Also, Monitor Techs often get two critical patient alarms at the same time, and are forced to make a decision as to which RN to call first if different caregivers are assigned.
It’s good to see Voalte customers solving many of these challenges with permanent phone number assignments, bi-directional texting and Voalte alarm notification features. If you haven’t yet planned to attend VUE19, be sure to register to hear how leading healthcare organizations are solving some of the thorniest clinical communication challenges!
Malaciah Jones is Program Manager of Clinical Solutions at Hillrom.