Situation: Answering the Call to Care
Happy Nurses Week! As a nurse myself, for 24 years I have celebrated this week with great honor and gratitude, but 2020 will hold a monumental place in my heart. Nurses are having to fight harder than ever because of the coronavirus pandemic—and the contagion is only half of it. COVID-19 has created additional communication barriers and its own level of cognitive overload. This rapidly progressing virus demands swift assessment and intervention. There is no room for inefficiency. Where we were accustomed to leaving isolation rooms multiple times to track down supplies or necessary members of the healthcare team, this can no longer be an option.
I feel compelled to share the opportunity we have to make the lives of healthcare workers and our patients safer, despite COVID-19. This is why I get out of bed every morning. This is why nurses, no matter where we practice, continue to fight the good fight. There are silver linings amid COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the extreme need for efficiency of resources, people and time.
Background: Age-Old Communication Barriers
Communication and collaboration across the care team has been challenging for as long as we can remember. Lack of communication within the acute-care setting has been cited as a major contributor to medical errors that can result in patient deaths. As debatable as that statistic is, we can all agree; caregivers must receive the right communication, about the right patient, at the right time, and with the right priority. When meaningful communication does not occur, cognitive overload is the result. Not only does alarm fatigue heavily burden the caregiver, it can have a deadly impact on our patients. Healthcare has tolerated siloed technology systems with generalized communication alerts for far too long. Calling all this inefficient is being kind. It is outright maddening.
Assessment: Leveraging Flexible Communications
Fortunately, in recent years we’ve seen tremendous strides in healthcare interoperability. It has become my life’s work to make technology work seamlessly for the bedside clinician. Decrease steps; touch one system, not many; send relevant information to the point of care so that clinicians can act in a timely manner. Connecting your nurse call system to a robust clinical communication and collaboration platform is a game-changer. Examples of what your organization can accomplish include:
- Answer patient calls before gowning up and going in the room.
- Talk to patients between mobile device and nurse call room speaker before entering the room.
- Find phone numbers, who’s on-call/in the building without leaving the patient using the mobile device.
- Receive notification of high-priority EMR alerts, critical labs and physiologic monitoring alarms directly to the appropriate caregiver’s mobile device.
- Request help or supplies with a simple call/text.
- Create COVID-19 Dynamic Roles and leverage one-to-many broadcasts to send one message to all involved on the care team and incident command team.
- Communicate staff and visitor COVID-19 guideline compliance notifications to the people who can do something about the results.
- From the mobile device, quickly access reference documents such as rapidly changing COVID-19 care protocols.
- Change a room status to COVID-19 ISO with the touch of a button/EMR integration, allowing patient calls to be canceled upon answer from a mobile device rather than entering the patient room.
- Use one-touch special status corridor lights to announce COVID-19 rooms that will alert anyone before entering the room.
Recommendation: Prioritize the Caregiver Experience
Now is not the time to brush aside integration opportunities. More than ever before, it is critically important for nurses to be able to communicate, not just with each other, but with other systems and departments across the entire healthcare operation.
Following a conversation with a bedside nurse caring for Philadelphia COVID-19 patients, I learned how excellent teamwork and communication has been orchestrated in her organization. I was touched by her recognition of how integrations positively impact her ability to care for COVID-19 patients. She went as far as to say, “I wish it could be like this for all my patients.”
Today is Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Today we celebrate a pioneer and healthcare hero. I leave you with her poignant words of wisdom stated over 150 years ago and still relevant today: “Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.”
Let’s do better, together. We stand ready to help you implement these ideas immediately. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Peak Outcomes: Peak Outcomes is a highly dedicated team of Registered Nurses and Solutions Architects with over 100 years of combined clinical, technical and leadership experience. Our team works with organizational stakeholders to design and integrate healthcare clinical communications to facilitate clinical outcomes such as saving steps, decreasing cognitive overload, and improving patient safety. For more information, email email@example.com.