Connect Patient-Facing Staffers to Improve Care and Transitions
Timely, effective communications shouldn’t be just for physicians and nurses. Effective patient care requires a team effort from the moment a patient arrives, through the treatment process, discharge and beyond, with specific actions and smooth handoffs at every step.
A comprehensive communications system that includes hospital technicians, transport staff, and housekeeping can help nurses and doctors focus on performing higher-level functions such as diagnosing and caring for patients. A low-battery alert on a telemetry monitor, for example, shouldn’t bother clinical staff but should, instead, be delivered to a tech who can respond to fix the technology.
With innovative communications technology, support staff can be contacted on a variety of devices, including pagers, smartphones, and other mobile devices. Notifications can be linked to a hospital’s admit, discharge, and transfer (ADT) or bed tracking system to speed admissions, discharges, movement between the patient’s bed and tests/treatments, and timely bed turnover.
Consider these scenarios:
Housekeeping: The moment a patient is discharged, an alert goes to the appropriate member of the housekeeping staff with room number information. When the cleaning has been completed, the housekeeper sends an alert to the bed tracking system to indicate that the room is ready.
In cases where housekeeping is needed immediately to deal with a spill or accident, an alert goes to the appropriate staff member, with escalation protocols if the alert isn’t acknowledged within a preset amount of time.
Transport staff: Think about the number of patient transports that occur each day—from the ED to the ICU, patient room to radiology (and back), ICU to the patient room, and the patient room to pickup area at discharge. Multiply each patient’s daily transport needs by the number of beds in your facility, and you can see the logistics that need to be effectively coordinated.
Now imagine that when a patient is ready for transport, the on-duty transport worker receives a notification and is ready to complete the required move, whatever that may be. This improves patient throughput in radiology, the cancer center, and procedure rooms—wherever patients are transported throughout your facility—while also increasing patient satisfaction.
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Technicians are on hand throughout the hospital to help nurses, physicians, lab staff, radiologists, and others focus on delivering patient care. But to support seamless workflow operations, they need strong communication capabilities and tools that integrate with what others are using.
Nursing techs should be the ones to respond when a patient hits the nurse call button asking for water, a walk, a bath, or similar requests. By linking the nurse call system to a central clinical alerting system, the responder can send calls to the appropriate person—nurse or nurse tech—responsible for that task. Routing a call to the correct respondent speeds response time, which means more satisfied patients and higher HCAHPS scores.
Radiology techs often are part of the response teams for STEMI codes and code blues and perform critical roles. An automated alert system, combined with centralized scheduling, allows the appropriate care team members to be contacted simultaneously on their preferred devices. Every second counts in an emergency, and time spent looking up who’s on call and who can respond takes time from the patient—time the patient may not have.
Encrypted Pagers Are Available That Offer Secure Communication
Smartphones are expensive whether an organization supports a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) program or provides fully covered devices to certain staff. While physicians may require smartphones, housekeeping, transport, and certain members of code teams can rely fully on pagers. Options for encrypted pagers are now available that can offer the same level of security as smartphones, allowing staff to securely share information. Having a communication system in place that can send messages to all team members regardless of the devices being used helps in effective care coordination at every step.