Accurately Manage Hospital Staff Schedules
With the complexity of schedules and diversity of mobile devices in hospitals today, advanced technology is a necessity to help manage contact information. The solution is an integrated healthcare communications system that brings together the staff directory, web-based on-call schedules, secure texting apps, and physician-specific information such as availability and device preferences. The benefits of faster and more efficient communications will make care coordination easier for providers and safer for patients. Spok offers best-in-class solutions for on-call physician scheduling and nurse-patient assignments to efficiently connect members of the care team and enable smarter clinical communications.
With the prevalence of smartphones and pagers, reaching the right doctor for consultations and questions ought to be easy. In fact, 96 percent of physicians use smartphones to support patient care. But the reality is that finding the right clinician, especially one on call, is still a challenge. Sixty-one percent of physicians express concerns about having access to colleagues and specialists, and 53 percent of nurses cite difficulties determining which physician is available, according to a Point of Care Communications for Physicians report by Spyglass Consulting Group.
In a two-month study at academic medical centers in Toronto, Canada, Dr. Brian Wong found that 14 percent of pages were sent to a provider who was not on duty. Further investigation revealed that 15 percent of the pages sent to the wrong clinician were for emergencies that required immediate attention—that’s 211 pages in just two months. Another 32 percent of pages sent to the wrong provider were urgent. Why were so many important messages sent to off-duty doctors? According to the author, many of these errors resulted from numbers being written incorrectly on paper (so the wrong number was dialed), or information was pulled from a schedule that had not been updated.
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Physicians concerned about access to colleagues
Nurses who have trouble determining which physician is available
Hospital informatics staff rank on-call schedules a top pain point
Pages sent to a doctor not on duty or on call
Locating the right doctor can be a big challenge if on-call schedules are out of date or contain erroneous information. In a survey of hospital informatics professionals, 62 percent cited managing on-call schedules as a top pain point. This is because digital spreadsheets may have multiple versions with conflicting information, paper copies become outdated as soon as they are printed, and many physicians’ schedules are complex and constantly changing.
When urgent requests are sent to the wrong doctor because contact information is incorrect, the result is a potential delay in treatment that could result in patient harm. The solution to this problem is to have a centralized, web-based on-call schedule. Beyond just the existence of the online schedule, it should be readily accessible to authorized staff, pull contact information from a well-maintained directory, and integrate with additional tools such as encrypted smartphone texting and escalation procedures.
Keeping It Current
Changes made to a hospital-wide, web-based schedule are immediately available to the organization, without the need to print and distribute revisions to all departments. Web-based scheduling means there is only one source for information, eliminating version control confusion and translation errors from copying information onto paper or white boards. Clinical departments can take ownership of updates and make revisions themselves as assignments change, helping keep schedules more current. It also saves time for contact center staff by removing them from the update process, including printing and distributing amendments.
Web-based on-call schedules are accessible from the web and mobile apps, by any authorized staff, including clinicians and call center operators.
- Easy access to schedules and contact information for the right provider means urgent messages get where they need to go quickly. Time isn’t lost waiting for a response from the wrong person.
- Quick access to information cuts wasted search time for nurses and physicians who need to find out who is on call and how to reach that person. Also, once the correct provider is located, the best solutions allow a message to be sent right from the directory.
- Robust solutions enable doctors to input exceptions so users can forward their on-call to another provider during specific days and times (for example, while in surgery).
Besides having up-to-date contact information, additional benefits of an online on-call schedule include integration with paging and secure texting applications that can automatically route messages not only to the correct provider, but also to their preferred device.
Move on-call schedules from spreadsheets and paper-based processes to a real-time, web-based system to help ensure the right doctor is contacted any time of day or night. Spok’s on-call software enables messages to be sent directly from the schedule to key staff members.
Shared Staff Assignment
Nurses provide the backbone of inpatient care, typically monitoring and assisting multiple patients during their shift where alerts, alarms, buzzers and patient calls are omnipresent. Nurse call systems and integration middleware can automatically deliver these notifications to the right nurses on the correct mobile devices. The pain point for nurses, however, is that for the process to work properly they must log in and identify their assigned patients within each separate monitoring system’s assignment interface (nurse call, infusion pumps, patient monitoring, pulse oximeters, etc.). This repetition wastes valuable time at shift changeover and increases the possibility for delegation errors.
To address this issue, Rauland-Borg® and Spok are pleased to offer Shared Staff Assignment. This joint solution provides nurses with a single place to enter their shift assignments. Shared Staff Assignment saves nurses time and reduces the potential for error by automatically assigning all of the monitoring systems associated with the appropriate patients to the correct nurse’s preferred mobile device via a singular interface. This device can be a smartphone, Wi-Fi phone, DECT phone, voice badge, pager, or traditional cell phone. The Shared Staff Assignment interface is the same as the existing Rauland-Borg Responder 5 System, so little to no training is required.
With Shared Staff Assignment, hospitals can:
- Speed the shift changeover process
- Deliver messages and alerts to the right person’s device
- Prioritize response to critical needs (for example, pain management requests are delivered ahead of requests for TV headphones)
- Escalate alerts if primary nurse is unable to assist in a timely manner
- Increase quality face-time with patients to boost both caregiver and patient satisfaction
- Rely on a full audit trail as a source for continuous improvement
Simplify staff assignment by enabling each nurse to sign in once, eliminating time-consuming and redundant data entry at the start of a shift.