During the past few months, it has been my pleasure to join in on various alarm workflow discussions and brainstorm sessions at hospitals. There are a number of systems that can be integrated to iPhones to improve clinical efficiency and patient care: nurse call, physiological monitoring, critical lab results, smartpumps, and smartbeds – are just a start.
These exchanges resulted in the following alarm management observations that are worth sharing:
1. There is no “easy” alarm integration. I have heard hospital executives say in the past, “We’ll just go with an easy alarm integration, like nurse call.” Unfortunately, there is no simple alarm integration. Even routine patient call bell notifications need thorough planning. For example, does the call bell alarm go to a PCA or the RN? Should there be a unit secretary triaging alarms at the central station? Is there a difference between day shift and night shift? What is the escalation path of these alarms? All of these questions need to be answered before an “easy” alarm integration can be done properly.
2. Start simple, and then expand based on end-user feedback. It can be tempting to integrate multiple systems at the start of a project. It is our recommendation to start small, and then grow based off of end-user feedback. This feedback allows you to determine which alarms add value to their day-to-day activity. Alarm fatigue can be mitigated by implementing a “crawl, walk, run” strategy compared to a “big-bang” alarm management approach.
3. Having the right partners makes all the difference. Most hospitals do not have the knowledgeable resources or the time to implement an alarm management strategy. Having the right partners that can give advice from past installations is critical to the success of the project. Any vendor can tie together the technology and backend systems, but a true partner delves beyond the backend “plumbing” to make sure the technology is performing in order to truly assist our clinicians, not just bombarding them with alarms.
Is your organization looking to improve clinical efficiency through an alarm management strategy? When you are ready to give your clinicians the right tool to improve clinical communications, give Voalte a call!