This powerful message was designed for ISD executive leadership.
It Is Time to Educate our K-12 Education Systems on Crisis Communication
It is no longer a question of if a crisis will happen in a school but when it will happen. Although the most feared crisis situation is an active shooter situation, many other types of threats to safety of students and faculty may occur. According to Schooldude.com, the human threats facing children, teachers and school personnel includes dangerous intruders, gang violence, bomb threats, missing persons as well as accidents and injuries. All of these risks require that school personnel be able to communicate the crisis as effectively and quickly as possible. A crisis situation leaves little time to think through options, so school leaders and teachers must know what to do, when to do it and the best communication method to use.
What worked yesterday in our schools won’t work for the future because the future holds uncertainty, fear and sometimes danger for our most valuable asset in this country, our children. Some of the most common questions that surface when discussing the current state of our schools are around safety. How many times have you asked or heard questions like these:
Are the kids safe?
Are kids able to learn effectively if the number one thing on the minds of the teachers and the students is, “I hope nothing bad happens today.”?
What do we do if something bad happens?
How will we know if there is a crisis somewhere on the campus?
We are all wondering how safe our schools are. Not that safe. Here are some hard numbers:
- 50 – The number of mass murders or attempted mass murders at a school since Columbine. (FBI records)
- 141 – The number of people killed in a mass murder or attempted mass murder at a school since Columbine. (FBI records)
- 270 – The number of shootings of any kind at a school since Columbine. (ABC News review of reported cases)
- 1 – The number of shootings per week, on average, on a school or college campus in 2015. (ABC News review of reported cases)
So now that we have looked at all this doom and gloom, let’s talk about solutions to alleviate the fear that is lurking in the minds of our teachers, parents and school children. Not surprisingly, the best way to battle this underlying fear in our school systems is through education! So where do we go for this education? Where can we find out how to better handle the day-to-day safety concerns as well as the crises that could happen without warning and what are these situations? We need to go where our children go to learn everything — online!
Let’s start with valuable information from the one of the leaders on Crisis Communication and Management. In a crisis school situation, think of ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. (https://www.alicetraining.com/) ALICE protocols and training provide a framework to educate and inform parents, teachers, administration personnel and integrators with the overarching goal of creating a culture of safety and protection within our schools. Some of the powerful suggestions ALICE training provides include the following:
Five Suggestions for Parents to Make to School Administrations
1. Have a Proactive Rather than Passive Policy
2. Make Sure the Policy Aligns with Federal Guidelines
3. Make Sure All Teachers are Trained
4. Train Students and Practice Regularly
5. Empower and Authorize Individuals
Another valuable resource is the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools, (PASS). (http://passk12.org/). This organization has a very simple mission, which is to make sure school investments in security are spent on the right solutions. The PASS guidelines are as follows:
1. Define threats common to schools at each educational level
2. Offer recommendations on parental and community involvement
3. Detail a layered security approach that combats common threats and mitigates risks related to active shooters
4. Provide information for integrators, school administrators, resource officers, and IT staff on technology-focused solutions like video surveillance, duress alarms, and electronic access control
5. Deliver scalable/tiered measures that administrators can implement based on available resources and local risk levels
PASS also provides integrators with risk assessments and white papers that can be used when working with schools to evaluate and establish the best security protection for their building. PASS has published a Safety and Security Guidelines for K12 Schools that is invaluable in providing information on not only keeping our children safe but also what to do in the event of a crisis. Technology Integrators play a huge role in making this happen. Tier four of the PASS Emergency Notification Layer of Safe Schools depends on having a professional integrator to work with who can accomplish baseline needs like live camera streams for law enforcement and administrators, intercom systems that integrate emergency messaging as well as two-way radio systems for communication within the building as well as with emergency personnel.
1. The duress system should have the capability to generate a camera stream with the computer popup message so that responding personnel (law enforcement and school administrators) can see a live view of the area where the duress button was activated.
2. The public address system should be integrated with fire alarms, weather alerts and the duress system to automate emergency messaging that provides information as to what the emergency is, what to do and where to go, and that sends an “all clear” message when appropriate.
3. The public address system should be augmented through the use of digital signage that provides emergency information.
4. The public address system should be integrated with the two-way radio system used by security personnel, law enforcement and firefighters so that calls for emergency response are automated.
5. The two-way communication system should be able to accept calls from emergency personnel outside the building.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has a very good list of “Brief Facts and Tips” on creating a culture of safety and well-being within a school. It is not surprising that nine out of nineteen of their tips directly or indirectly involve communication, which all resources point to as the key factor in preventing and responding to a crisis… https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/school-violence-prevention
Some of the NASP recommendations include:
1. Create a safe, supportive school climate (e.g., school-wide behavioral expectations, caring school climate programs, positive interventions and supports, and psychological and counseling services).
2. Encourage students to take responsibility for their part in maintaining safe school environments, including student participation in safety planning.
3. Reiterate the school rules and request that students report potential problems to school officials.
4. Remind students of the importance of resisting peer pressure to act irresponsibly.
5. Create anonymous reporting systems (e.g., student hot lines, suggestion boxes, and “tell an adult” systems).
6. Control access to the school building (e.g., designated entrance with all other access points locked from the exterior).
7. Monitor school guests.
8. Monitor school parking lots and common areas, such as hallways, cafeterias, and playing fields.
9. Include the presence of school resource officers, security guards, or local police partnerships.
10. Use security systems.
11. Develop crisis plans and provide preparedness training to all staff members.
12. Develop threat-assessment and risk-assessment procedures and teams for conducting the assessments.
13. Hold regular school-preparedness drills (e.g., intruder alerts, weather, fire, lockdown, evacuation).
14. Create school-community partnerships to enhance safety measures for students beyond school property.
15. Cite school safety incident data. Many school districts have local data that support a declining trend in school violence. When possible, citing local data helps families and students feel more at ease.
16. Be a visible, welcoming presence at school, greeting students and parents and visiting classrooms.
17. Conduct an annual review of all school safety policies and procedures to ensure that emerging school safety issues are adequately covered in current school crisis plans and emergency response procedures.
18. Review communication systems within the school district and with community responders. This should also address how and where parents will be informed in the event of an emergency.
19. Highlight violence prevention programs and curricula currently being taught in school. Emphasize the efforts of the school to teach students alternatives to violence including peaceful conflict resolution and positive interpersonal relationship skills.
We cannot overlook what the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) recommends in the event of a crisis situation. FEMA identifies Response as the critical action since crisis falls into three categories; it has happened, it is happening or it will happen.
Response means the capabilities necessary to stabilize an emergency once it has already happened or is certain to happen in an unpreventable way; establish a safe and secure environment; save lives and property; and facilitate the transition to recovery.
The internet is rich with information, ideas and solutions on how to work together to make our schools safer. Here is one additional link with information that will be helpful in learning more about educating and protecting our most valuable asset!
Patient Experience is the cross section between patient satisfaction and patient safety. The role of managing the overall experience falls to everyone in the C suite and is a true result of the organizations culture. Hospitals are challenged beyond simply healing patients to creating an environment that satisfies them as well. The new ACO model coupled with other regulatory drivers such as HCAHPS and related quality oversight has changed the way that hospitals manage care of the patients. A culture that is foundationally enabled by data that is converted to knowledge and understanding in real time will transform the patient experience.
The conversion of data to knowledge and understanding creates an environment that is known as the Real Time Health System (RTHS). This concept, created by Gartner Research, is an industry vision to fundamentally change how health delivery organizations (HDO) deliver care to their patients. One of the core aspects of the RTHS is the patient generated data captured by the nurse call system and the technologies that interact with it.
Why? The data created and contained within the nurse call light system is a very clear representation of patient’s behaviors, reactions, and interactions with staff. In many hospitals it is only used as a tool to identify service levels and responsiveness with simple printable reports. The discerning CIO and CMIO have identified that it along with other technologies in the Internet of Things (IoT) provide critical insights into the patient experience beyond any other tool in the hospital. These insights can be applied into Gartner’s concept of the Real Time Health System in the following manner:
- Patient behavioral analysis when aligned with the EMR will be critical for the CMIO to manifest understating of how perceptive measures are creating patient response.
- Patient behavioral analysis will become a critical factor in the CNIOs efforts to create clinical operational models for better care design.
- Patient behavioral analysis will in the future become part of the population health analysis. The methods used to identify the pattern of need and pattern of risk will be applied to models in long term care, home care, and patient engagement.
These insights leverage on the abilities of the nurse call light system to act as a hub of communications and data aggregation of not only the patients’ needs but also the interactions of the care team. Modernization of the legacy concept of the nurse call system as a light and tone and glorified telephone to the bedside should be replaced with an understanding that the “system” is critical to enable workflow and record the patient’s behaviors. While technological advances from the standard hardware centric model are important for the advancement of the industry, the health delivery organization will not fully transcend the current state until it can be shown a greater value to change then to status quo.
If workflows that enable staff to better care for patients can be achieved using a legacy mindset that does not require transition from simple to use hardware then the hospital will not be motivated to adapt to a different model. Motivations will include simplified interaction for the patients, enhanced contextual understanding for the care team, and analytics that align with the concept of the real time health system.
The final point is critical. Hospital CIOs need to enable the leadership of their hospitals with tools that align with the Real Time Health System strategy. As hospital move into technology evaluations should consider the following concepts provided in the Gartners most recent document.
The Real Time Health System provides leadership with situational awareness.
Situational Awareness allows leadership to make more informed decisions on things that matter to patient experience such as workload or capacity management and patient behavioral analysis. It pulls information from a number of areas to paint a picture of the current state. On a micro level it provides contexts to individual patient needs, and on a macro level provides oversight to shift resources on demand.
Nurse Call light systems are most often utilized simply in a on demand basis. As patients have a need they push a button to request assistance. As hospitals adapat to the model of the RTHS they will being to identify if their current technology can be used in a more holistic capacity to provide situational awareness. Thus the data being aggregated by the nurse call light system must be structured in a way that allows for modeling.
The Real Time Health System is dependent upon solutions being mobile.
Hospitals have a pace unlike any industry and one that is traditionally inconsistent with demand at times of need. Hospital CIOS must provide not only mobility solutions that allow for on demand connection between patient and care team but one that provides analytics at the point of care. Thus allowing for the hospital to do clinical modeling in real time to realign staff needs, and be more prescriptive in care models for patients.
The HCAHPS focused hospital should desire to have multiple perspectives of the patients’ needs automated from their call light, recorded from their perceptions, and aligned with their medical record. All of which should be easily accessible in a mobile solution.
The Real Time Health System leverages off of a technologies ability to enhance collaboration.
Collaboration extends the reach of the care team to enable perspective of multiple providers to enhance the ability of an individual to deliver care. The hospital focused on patient experience should seek technologies that provide visual ability of the care team to identify pace and needs of the patient.
This thought process enables “patients and providers to share in real time” but should not be limited to the acute care visit as the modern care team will be more than those focused on the current state.
Enhanced collaboration is beyond “communication” and should be extended to location and sensing. Location provides not only context of whom and when but location as a specific aspect provides insight into “how much” and “how often”.
As the enthusiasm for this model heightens the Nurse Call Light manufactures need to identify methodologies to transition the standard thought process of communication being their greatest value to the data they manage being the greatest value. The greater their ability to align with the concept of the Real Time Health System – the greater their ability to succeed in enabling a more enhanced patient experience.
By Kourtney Govro
CEO of Sphere3
Kourtney Govro is recognized as an industry leading expert on nurse call light system application, clinical communications design models and patient generated data analytics. Her company Sphere3, a Gartner Cool Vendor and winner of the Fierce Healthcare Innovation awards for analytics in 2015, is the leading provider of patient experience management software.
 Drivers for HDO CIO/CTO decisions surrounding Call Light Systems May 1, 2015
 Industry Vision: The Real Time Health System 11 May 2015 by Barry Runyon
Interoperability has been a growing buzzword in healthcare in recent years, but what it means and how it works for clinical organizations is still relatively unknown. Interoperability refers to the ability of two or more technology systems to exchange and process data that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of hospital operations.
Interoperability equips key healthcare decision makers with the information they need to continually measure and mange their operations, document protocol, mitigate risk, and provides staff and physicians with pertinent data that allows them to make intelligent assessments on how to optimize workflow and improve customer satisfaction. The end result is an enhanced delivery of quality patient care, and a thorough understanding of how certain processes and procedures function conjointly.
There are three levels of information interoperability that let healthcare facilities measure the success of their systems: foundational, structural, and semantic.
Interoperability at the foundational level is establishing the basic ability for two or more systems to exchange data. According to HIMMS, this level “allows data exchange from one information technology system to be received by another and does not require the ability for the receiving information technology system to interpret the data.” An example of foundational interoperability would be sending laboratory results from one facility to another. The information would be correct and delivered securely, but would require manual data entry and interpretation.
If we think of interoperability in terms of a three tiered pyramid, foundational interoperability would be the bottom level of information sharing. The data is being exchanged, but the processing and interpretation of the information between the systems has not been established.
Structural interoperability takes the automation of data sharing between systems to the next level. HIMMS explains that structural interoperability “defines the syntax of the data exchange. It ensures that data exchanges between information technology systems can be interpreted at the data field level.” This means if two clinics were using similar software applications, they could quickly and efficiently share patient information by auto-populating the system with pertinent medical history, test results, and findings to facilitate referrals between facilities. The structural level of interoperability helps automate the delivery and presentation of information between systems to improve both cost and labor efficiency, and reduce human error.
At the foundational and structural level, we are able to see the benefits of integrating systems and providers to effectively communicate information with one another. But there are glaring challenges in regards to the redundancy, security, accuracy and speed in which these systems share data. The true value of interoperability in the healthcare environment lies at the highest level, which is semantic interoperability.
At it’s core, semantic interoperability is the ability for two or more systems to effectively exchange, interpret and use data and information. To revisit our previous example through semantic lenses, a clinic would be able to send lab results to another facility, the system could then verify the contents, identify the records, match a patient, advise the appropriate physician, schedule alert notifications, and save any and all information regarding the case including appointments, updates, findings, prescriptions etc.
There are very obvious benefits to healthcare IT networks with advancements in interoperability. But IO is something that should be carefully considered and integrated in all facets of a healthcare organization. From access control to mass notification alarm systems to real-time location solutions – interoperability ensures that the use of innovative technology has the ability to work in tandem, and provide tangible data that influence positive changes in how a staff and their facility function.
Studies have shown that 80 percent of providers reported electronic data exchanges increase their practice’s efficiency, and 89 percent of providers said electronic data exchanges improve the patient’s quality of care. If you are interested in finding out more about how the interoperability of security and communication solutions can help drive noticeable change in your practice, contact one of our SD6 Alliance members and we will help identify areas where you can enhance your technology solutions.
Additional Resource: www.IHE.org “Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise” is a not for profit organization dedicated to furthering Interoperability in healthcare.
Successful patient engagement strategies use the right combination of innovative technology and organizational services. Hospitals find most success when they integrate solutions that operate efficiently with other systems already established in their facilities, such as electronic health records (EHR), workflow technology, and nurse call systems.
Technology is quickly changing the way healthcare providers are approaching patient engagement. Many are turning to online solutions to make scheduling appointments and receiving pertinent personal medical information, prescriptions, and test results quicker and more efficient. Pre-visit check-ins also helps expedite the information gathering process between provider and patient. By making a patient’s health records and appointments more readily accessible online, studies have shown that these advanced solutions reduce wait times, no-show rates, and patient satisfaction.
Increasingly, physicians and caregivers are learning the importance of educating their patients about treatment outside the hospital room, and explaining how new off-site monitoring programs can help them track their health remotely. Patients that realize how lifestyle and treatment decisions affect their health can help improve compliance and disease management. The increased interest in personalizing one’s own healthcare is making capturing medical data and moving it to electronic health records easier and more reliable, and keeps the patient always informed.
Depending on the objectives and your hospital’s goals for patient engagement, your healthcare practice will most likely want to utilize metrics such as the number of patients using the remote monitoring programs, number of e-mails collected, and patient satisfaction with their personal devices. This large collection of “big data” is becoming increasingly important as hospitals are making strides in understanding how to better use this information to improve the quality of their patient care. It’s a worthwhile goal as health data can help us reduce re-admittance rates, better understand illnesses, improve outcomes, personalize medicine, predict outbreaks, and eliminate pandemics.
There’s no shortage of new technologies designed to engage patients. Wearable devices, patient portals, health metrics tracking apps, and other innovations are empowering patients to take ownership of their care. If your hospital is looking to find patient engagement solutions that seamlessly integrate and communicate with your current systems, or are trying to establish a foundation or culture of patient engagement with patient management systems like nurse call or real-time location services, contact [company name]. We are the trusted source for communication, physical security and life safety solutions to meet the needs of healthcare providers across the country. We utilize a consultative approach to conduct an in-depth needs analysis, enabling our customers to fulfill their patient engagement vision and objectives.
We want it, and we want it now. As Americans, technological advances have made us a pretty impatient group as a whole – constantly seeking better, faster processes to improve wait time. These processes are most likely used to improve daily functions like: email, text message, video and music streaming. If these activities were ever delayed, we would become easily frustrated looking for a more advanced system of technology to replace the old one. Based off this approach, why should waiting for a doctor or care physician be any different? Even though waiting may simply be unavoidable, improved systems should be set in place to decrease doctor patient miscommunication and wait time therefore leading to increased patient satisfaction.
The wait times in a patient’s journey through the hospital can be messy. Despite many hospitals’ best efforts, the amount of time spent waiting can be overwhelming. A study conducted by a research team of The Advisory Board Company found that patients go through an average of 24 hand-offs during an inpatient stay. When it comes to patient satisfaction, retention and malpractice, these consistent hand-offs are part of an inefficient, outdated system that needs to be altered. Luckily, there are now alternative technological initiatives available to help care physician’s leverage beneficial practice workflows to minimize patient wait time.
The first example is Real-time locating systems (RTLS) which are communication systems that automatically track the location of patients, physicians, and staff as they move about the clinic. The collected data can then be utilized to identify certain trouble areas, or bottlenecks, to help ensure correct, precise adjustments to staff workflow. Furthermore, the Health information Exchange (HIE) can also capture critical data of a patient before they arrive for their visit. This exchange captures useful data for physicians to have a clear, composed record of their patient, in turn minimizing duplicate testing.
Healthcare consumers have high expectations when it comes to their physician and hospital staff. For the amount of time and money spent, it is understandable that patients would want quality service in a timely manner. The presence of these new and innovative systems, including technological healthcare exchanges and workflow communication systems, will help meet these expectations – making this an exciting time for healthcare.
In 2011, the American Board of Medical Specialties voted to make Clinical Informatics the newest subspecialty in Medicine. Clinical Informatics-trained experts were deemed crucial to maintain and improve the nation’s health information infrastructure.
Clinical informaticists focus on systems-level improvements in care delivery through the use of data analytics, clinical decision support, data visualization, and the like. Their work assists patients and payers through reduction of errors, increased safety, reduced costs, more efficient care and improved care coordination. Essentially the work of the clinical informaticist is at a practice or population level, impacting the care of multiple patients through their efforts. Recognizing that health care technology mainly benefits patients and payers led to the HITECH Act, which incentivized the implementation of clinical information technology like electronic health records and health information exchange for hospitals and providers.
Clinical informatics is the study of information technology and how it can be applied to the healthcare field. It includes the study and practice of an information-based approach to healthcare delivery in which data must be structured in a certain way to be effectively retrieved and used in a report or evaluation. Clinical informatics can be applied in a range of healthcare settings including hospital, physician’s practice, military and others.
Providers in today’s healthcare industry increasingly rely on data and technology to provide treatments for patients. They collect and share data to formulate and implement a treatment plan for a patient. Along the way, they use the latest in technological equipment, computers, software, tablets, smartphones and even apps to gather and distribute information. All of this information must be collected, stored, interpreted, analyzed and implemented into a treatment plan.
There’s no shortage of new technologies designed to assist patients and providers. We are the trusted source for a number of the technology solutions to meet the needs of healthcare providers across the country.
What is a Mass Notification System (MNS)
A mass notification system is an essential tool used to quickly and efficiently deliver emergency notifications to a large subset of people. They are becoming increasingly important systems for school, hospital, and multi-site business campus facility managers to warn individuals about threats inside and outside of the building, and provide a succinct safety protocol that immediately puts them out of harm’s way.
How Does It Work?
There are several different ways a facility can integrate a mass notification system, and it is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. A thorough risk analysis of the building infrastructure, how it is used, and the people that use it is mandatory so that the right message is delivered to the right people at the right time.
When an emergency situation is threatening the facility, a mass notification system will aggressively reach those in danger through two major tiers of communication, depending on the needs of the facility. The first tier includes physical infrastructure alerts including sirens, loudspeakers, intercoms, radio and TV announcements, emergency lights, or electronic displays. The second tier runs parallel with the first tier and delivers notifications directly to personal devices like cell phones, email, pagers, or social media. Through pre-established distribution lists, this alert system can target different subsets of people and tailor the emergency messages depending on the threat, location, time of day, or any other variable that could effect both the audience and the proper safety protocol.
Integrate a MNS in Your Facility
Every system should begin with an emergency plan. Run a thorough security audit of your entire facility and identify all potential risks. It is important to understand that not all risks are incidences of unauthorized access or violent intruders. Be sure to address emergency weather conditions, structure fires, or carbon monoxide levels as all of these dangers require the same swift communication to keep everyone safe.
When running through your security evaluation, take time to identify all of the key players when responding emergency situations. Who is the first contact? Who is responsible for what areas of the facility? The more more you can fine point the chain of command, the more efficient your facility’s response to crisis situations will be.
It is important to make sure the system that is used is also integrated to alert the appropriate emergency first responders in your area. Be sure to work closely with your local police and fire departments to ensure the system is working correctly and that the entire network is receiving the alerts promptly.
As with all new security solutions, the technology is only as effective as the individuals operating the system. That is why detailed and frequent training with mass notification systems is crucial for highly-effective crisis management. Top-down training will make sure managers and operators know their responsibilities and can communicate the responsibility of the everyday users of the system including how to use the equipment and technology, proper safety precautions, and emergency procedures so that there is a unified system across all personnel.
Part of training includes regular testing of the notifications to make sure that the system is working to capacity. This will also give users the opportunity to be comfortable with the technology, and to remind them to frequently check the system and familiarize themselves with all of its working components.
Adopting New Technology
Most facilities already have some sort of call system in place like PA systems, intercoms, loudspeakers, or electronic signage. When evaluating your building’s emergency preparedness, consider the systems you already have installed and find solutions that build on the existing infrastructure. There may be opportunities to integrate a notification system that runs parallel to the tier 1 communication solutions like text messages, computer alerts, email blasts, or even social media notifications that can efficiently target messages to directly to your audience.
There is no shortage of new security solutions for managers – so if you have any questions about how a Mass Notification System can work for your facility, reach out to one of our SD6 Alliance members and they will work with you directly to provide the right solution for you.
Every hospital’s top priority is patient satisfaction, and the leaps in healthcare technology is helping improve the way patients and caregivers interact. Advancements in integrated solutions are bridging the gap between patient and physician which is boosting productivity, increasing efficiency, and improving HCAHPS scores across the board. As nurse managers and hospital executives know, HCAHPS are crucially important to maintaining a successful operation. From a competitive position, HCAHPS and patient satisfaction help secure new patients and attract quality physicians. But HCAHPS also help protect a hospital’s liability and secure future reimbursements for care. In fact, HCAHPS and patient perception account for 30 percent of a hospital’s annual update. So how can a hospital leverage technology to help improve the patient experience?
Workflow technology is improving the efficiency and timeliness of the patient admittance process. There is a lot of communication breakdown in the traditional workflow of admitting a patient in the admission, discharge, and transfer (ADT) system to when the attending physician actually reviews the case. In between, patients spend a long time in the waiting room causing stress and uneasiness. Advances in smartphone technology can help automate this process through electronic notifications directly to physician’s personal electronic device. The ADT system can alert physician and attending staff about the recent admits and streamline the process of acquiring patient information and assessing the case – drastically cutting patient wait time.
Deliver Test Results
Test results are often a cause for great stress and anxiety for patients. Unfortunately, through traditional systems there is a lot that can delay the process of quickly delivering this patient information including communication failures over the phone or email, and manual data entry and information tracking. Hospitals are adopting new methods that allow mobile transfer of important lab results that increase patient safety and satisfaction. By automating the transfer of test results from labs directly to the physicians, hospitals and healthcare facilities and improving productivity and shaving the high costs of ineffective communication.
The speed at which patients receive immediate nurse attention for medication, treatment, or discomfort is directly correlated with their satisfaction of their care. There are areas of inefficient communication breaks when a patient requires immediate nurse action, including identifying the patient and their location, determining the need and course of action, and locating the appropriate nurse or physician. New nurse call technology is eliminating the incongruences in patient requests and streamlining essential information about the patients and their immediate needs, which is helping hospitals everywhere reduce redundant efforts and speeding up response times.
There is an appropriate communication solution for your staff and facility that will help improve your patient care and improve your HCAHPS scores. Whether it’s patient identity technology, dynamic rounding dashboards, real-time location systems, nurse call systems, or streamlined information sharing, there is a system available that tailors to your unique needs.
REAL-TIME LOCATION SYSTEMS (RTLS)
The use of real-time location systems, or RTLS, in healthcare is on the rise. But there is still a lot of misconception about what the technology does, and how it can help healthcare professionals improve their patient care. We will help shed some light on some of the great benefits of RTLS so your facility can make the best use of these systems.
What is RTLS?
Real-time location systems are wireless tracking systems used to locate equipment, patients, and staff members in real-time. An RTLS consists of specialized fixed receivers positioned throughout the building that receive wireless signals from ID badges, worn by patients and caregivers, or tags attached to equipment and medical devices, to accurately identify where the tagged assets are located within a building. Each tag has its own unique identification code, or signal, that the fixed receivers can read and precisely locate. Hospital staff can log onto the system from any workstation or mobile device and quickly identify where specific patients or equipment are located.
But the real value of RTLS technology is not in its ability to track, but about equipping nurses and caregivers with real-time data that improves the patient experience.
RTLS and Workflow
Real-time systems have the ability to “tag” a complex workflow environment that will optimize staff and patient flow during peak demand times in a facility. When both patients and physicians are wearing ID badges, it allows the staff to completely manage the care delivery process by knowing who is available, what equipment is in use, where the patient is and who has seen them last. It reduces the lag in a long chain of communication, and streamlines the patient care process.
RTLS and Asset Tracking
In addition to managing the workflow of staff, RTLS is equally effective and directing the effective use of facility equipment. Oftentimes hospitals purchase up to three times the amount of equipment and medical devices they actually need because it is difficult to track them as they move from room to room. By tagging widely-used hospital equipment through the real-time location system, physicians can quickly and accurately locate where it is, who is using it, and in what part of the delivery process it is in. That means RTLS can identify whether or not the assets have gone through the proper decontamination process and is ready for use again. These alerts can be integrated and ensure that medical devices and safely and efficiently used throughout the facility.
RTLS and PHI
Another very innovative use of RTLS technology is protecting personal health information, or PHI. Tags can be applied to devices that contain secure patient information like computers or tablets, and program the system to alert if they are removed from a certain area or even auto-log out at designated times. It is imperative that hospitals maintain the HIPAA and protect PHI, and RTLS solutions are allowing hospital staff to closely monitor the dissemination of these records.
Integrating real-time location systems is certainly an investment for any healthcare facility. But an overwhelming amount of adopters are reporting a great ROI and citing operational efficiency gains. From reduction of unnecessary asset purchases, to improvements in HCHAPS scores and patient satisfaction, there numerous ways to effective implement a successful RTLS solution and strengthen your healthcare infrastructure.