Fighting Alarm Fatigue for Nurses in 5 Steps

Healthcare, We Have a Problem:

Alarm fatigue is a serious threat to patient safety.

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) defines alarm fatigue as a sensory overload that occurs when clinicians are exposed to an excessive number of alarms, which can result in desensitization to alarm sounds and an increased rate of missed alarms. False alarms are a strong contributor, making up 72-99% of all alarms and numbing care teams to signals meant to indicate patient danger.1

Essentially, devices and processes that were designed to protect and support patients in specific ways have compiled over time to create a cacophony of ever-sounding silos in healthcare. Sadly, the discord cannot be safely silenced. Fortunately, it can be well-orchestrated.

Let’s explore how integrating disparate, noisy alert and alarm systems can help fight alarm fatigue for nurses and care teams.

Where is all the noise coming from?

In short, disconnected legacy systems with outdated hardware and devices combine with overlapping, suboptimal workflows to create the noise fueling alarm fatigue. A few factors that add to the chaos and make it difficult for clinicians to determine the relevance and urgency of alarms include:

  • Nurse Call Systems: Patients sometimes use nurse call for non-clinical requests, such as a glass of water, which could be redirected to another team member.
  • Critical Lab Results: Upon notification, nurses in some settings are responsible for tracking down the appropriate physician to relay critical results, pulling the nurse away from the bedside.
  • Patient Monitoring Devices: It can be difficult to infer the risk level and urgency of various patient device alarms, and to know if other team members are responding or can respond more quickly.

Above are just a few of many systems that can trigger nondescript beeping sounds, which all begin to sound alike and blur together. The result? Just to find out where an alarm is coming from and what it indicates, a nurse has to leave the current task to investigate.

The nurse is forced to assign priority (current task versus potential patient threat) based on assumption in an environment where up to 99% of alarms are false, yet assuming an alarm is false puts a patient at risk. Constant decisions like these in a fast-paced, high-stakes environment contribute to mistakes, alarm fatigue, clinician burnout, patient risk, and many other potential consequences.

5 Steps to Fight Alarm Fatigue:

1. Integrate all alerts and alarms to reduce noise.

To start, put all alerts and alarms in one place that nurses and care teams can check on the go—an integrated app accessible from any device across all locations.

2. Increase mobility to decrease footwork.

For organizations that haven’t already deployed a mobile device strategy for nurses, smartphones will greatly enhance the effectiveness of an integrated solution. Being able to check alerts at the bedside and on the move reduces extra footwork and detours for staff.

3. Use shift schedules to inform smart routing.

The ideal solution should also integrate with shift and on-call schedules across the organization, using schedules to route alerts and alarms directly to the right clinicians. Smart routing like PerfectServe’s Dynamic Intelligent Routing reduces irrelevant noise while using built-in escalation policies to ensure urgent alerts are addressed within set timeframes.

4. Delay nonurgent notifications to reduce interruptions.

The ability to delay nonurgent alerts to be delivered at set intervals can greatly reduce distractions for clinicians during patient care. By minimizing multitasking, nurses and other care team members are able to complete tasks more efficiently and maximize their focus on patients at the bedside.

5. Distinguish alert types by tone to simplify recognition.

Alarm fatigue and decision fatigue often go hand in hand. While most care team members wouldn’t actively choose to ignore an alert, the ability to know in an instant based on sound whether or not an alarm is urgent can help them respond appropriately more quickly.

The Bottom Line:

Excess noise makes it difficult for clinicians to administer safe and timely care. (It also does a number on patient experience, but that’s a topic for another post.) Remove the guesswork for nurses around whether to tune out the noise and focus on the patient at hand or interrupt each encounter to assess the latest (likely false) alarm.

Click below to begin fighting alarm fatigue.

 

Resources:
1. Alarm Fatigue: A Patient Safety Concern, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Advanced Critical Care, Sue Sendelbach, RN, PhD, CCNS and Marjorie Funk, RN, PhD, Oct. 2013: acnjournals.org/aacnacconline/article-abstract/24/4/378/14745/Alarm-FatigueA-Patient-Safety-Concern

10-Point Checklist:
Deploying Shared Devices for Nurses

Checklist Deploying Nurse Devices


B
elow is a summary of an article published in Becker’s Hospital Review July 9, 2018.1

In a 2018 survey, 72% of respondents reported using a program that provides nurses with devices.

Smartphones equip nurses and other clinical staff with always-available communication and clinical applications that help speed up care delivery. Connected nurses more easily communicate and collaborate with care team members on patient-centered care.

Mobile devices for nurses must be rigorously tested and validated. Purchasing the wrong devices for thousands of team members without testing them in real life can have disastrous consequences. On the other hand, choosing the right devices can launch an integrated delivery network for care team collaboration and quality patient care.

Here is a 10-point checklist of best practices for planning and implementing a mobile device strategy for nursing teams:

1. Consider device usability.

Make sure the devices you put into your nurses’ hands are well received. Form factor, battery life, and performance all play into device acceptance. Any shortcomings can negatively impact adoption.

2. Verify compatibility between the device and your applications.

The most obvious application to consider is the mobile app for your EHR, but there are other apps you should also test. Create a role-by-role application inventory to guide your app testing.

3. Consider the durability of the device in three key areas.

    1. Drop Endurance: Only consider devices that pass repeated four-foot drops.
    2. Liquid Tolerance: Whether it be a sink, toilet, or any other liquid landing, care team devices need to survive getting wet to function reliably.
    3. Sanitization Survival: Good infection control practices require regular device disinfection. How well will the devices handle your facility’s sanitization agents?

4. Test the reliability of the device on your wireless network.

Not all devices seamlessly transition between wireless access points throughout a hospital. As more access points are added to improve coverage, the frequency of network issues may increase, which is one of the most common contributors to device failures.

5. Validate the voice quality of the device.

In most cases, the device is used primarily as a phone. Test the voice quality of the device when paired with your wireless network and PBX.

6. Ensure your device will support a secure operating system.

Note the operating system shipped with the device and future plans for the course of the device’s lifecycle. Specifically, ensure the device will always run an operating system that continues to receive security patches from the vendor. Avoid an end-of-life operating system.

7. Purchase during the first half of the device lifecycle.

Make sure the devices you deploy have enough horsepower to last at least three years. Purchasing devices early in the lifecycle will help maximize usable life. Purchasing too late in the lifecycle leads to performance complaints long before the devices are planned to retire.

8. Plan organizational change for device deployment.

Change can be hard, but a thoughtful plan makes all the difference. Carefully consider your training program, communication plan, and your “change champions” to help evangelize the update.

9. Consider the manageability of the devices.

Use a mobile device management (MDM) solution to deploy and manage your devices. If you don’t currently have one, bundle your MDM decision in with device selection. Do not try to deploy devices enterprise wide without an MDM.

10. Pilot the device in real-world situations.

Proper device evaluation goes beyond hands-on sessions in training rooms. Once you have narrowed your devices down to a short list, test them in the environments in which they will be used. Most clinical users move around a lot. Plan to have care team members in various roles use the devices in their everyday workflows to identify strengths and weaknesses.

Getting your mobile device strategy right is crucial in supporting nurse collaboration with care team members. Connect with one of our clinical communication specialists to talk current recommendations for your nurse devices and related strategies.

To explore how an integrated clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) solution can complete and enhance your device strategy, click below for a PerfectServe demo.

Battle Resident Burnout With Better Scheduling

Battle Resident Burnout

Grueling work hours have long been a part of medical training. But growing conversations about resident burnout and well-being, in addition to the impact of unsustainable working hours on patient care, eventually led to a serious revaluation of resident working hours. In 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) limited working hours for residents to 80 hours per week and no more than 24 consecutive hours.1

So, how can academic healthcare organizations meet the ACGME’s regulations and reduce burnout while providing exceptional practice experiences? Addressing the hours providers work in a given week is a great place to start. Scheduling can play a huge role in promoting resident satisfaction and well-being, which support high-quality patient care.

Five Ways Better Scheduling Can Improve Resident Satisfaction

  1. Ensuring Shift Equity and Sustainable Work Hours
  2. Increasing Schedule Transparency and Visibility
  3. Simplifying Shift Swapping and Time-Off Requests
  4. Sharing the Schedule in a Timely Fashion
  5. Helping Administrators Better Support Clinical Staff

1. Ensuring Shift Equity and Sustainable Work Hours

Set scheduling rules that limit weekly work hours and ensure fair shift distribution.

In academic medicine, meeting the 80-hour work week guidelines is even more difficult than it seems. A multitude of scheduling factors—including physicians’ teaching requirements, research duties, and clinical responsibilities—must be considered. As a result, it can be difficult to manually prioritize work limits and shift equity with other scheduling rules.

An advanced scheduling solution can easily accommodate for complex scheduling variables once rules are set to limit work hours and balance providers’ varying responsibilities. What’s more, the system should also have the ability to factor in things like providers’ preferences and ensure that certain shifts, like weekends, nights, and call, are distributed as evenly among providers as possible.

It’s a tall order, right? But essential. The right provider scheduling solution will simplify the schedule complexity required to improve outcomes for academic healthcare organizations. We dive deeper into the capabilities that different types of organizations should expect in our new guide, Choosing an Enterprise Scheduling Solution.

2. Increasing Schedule Transparency and Visibility

Increase schedule visibility and transparency by centralizing real-time schedules in a single location.

Creating schedules is one thing, but making sure providers can access the latest schedule is another issue altogether. Locating an up-to-date schedule can be a huge source of frustration for providers and it can also have a big impact on patient care. An advanced digital scheduling solution makes the latest schedules from across your organization accessible to providers at any time from any device at any location.

The ability to easily view the schedule across devices not only cuts down on frustration by making it simpler to view the schedule, find and contact the on-call provider, and communicate with colleagues, but it also increases transparency into how schedules are created. For example, if a resident goes on their mobile app to request Friday off and sees that two other team members have already requested that day off, it may be less surprising if the request is denied.

The reporting capabilities available in the scheduling platform should also promote transparency by allowing schedulers to share reports around shift equity, time off requests approval, and more.

3. Simplifying Shift Swapping and Time-Off Requests

Make the processes easy for swapping shifts and requesting time off.

The lack of a simple, standardized process for shift swapping and time-off requests can make it unnecessarily challenging to find the right person to take over a shift when needed. It can also lead residents to swap shifts without letting the proper administrators know, resulting in outdated, inaccurate schedules that delay communication and patient care.

Centralizing shift swapping, time-off requests, and other scheduling requests on a single digital scheduling platform puts the schedule back in provider hands, giving them more autonomy and control over how and when they are scheduled without leaving administrators in the dark.

4. Sharing the Schedule in a Timely Fashion

Quickly auto-generate gap-free schedules so residents can access next month’s schedule today.

Creating schedules can be incredibly time consuming, especially in academic settings. Schedulers often try to balance teaching, research, and patient care with organizational, departmental, and individual provider needs. Resulting time constraints mean that providers often receive their schedules at the last minute, making work-life balance nearly impossible.

An advanced scheduling solution can simplify schedule creation with rules built to meet each team’s unique needs. Different departments within an organization can then auto-generate gap-free schedules built to their specifications, which helps administrators complete and distribute schedules more quickly. Complete schedules are instantly available for care team members and administrators across the organization to access any time.

5. Helping Administrators Better Support Clinical Staff

Free up administrators’ time so they can better support the needs of clinical staff.

Administrators spend roughly 291 hours annually managing provider schedules. For academic facilities with more complex schedules, the number is likely far more. That’s valuable time administrators could spend to better supporting clinical staff.

Jessica Angerman, the Program Coordinator for the Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center Combined Residency Program, says Optimized Scheduling powered by Lightning Bolt has created a better culture for residents and administrators alike.

“Our leadership team of program directors and associate program directors really like to foster a good culture between the admin team and leadership and the residents. Lightning Bolt has definitely helped us reach the residents in a more personal way. A lot of the times our administrative team doesn’t get to meet with them one-on-one because they’re so busy. It’s really given us that opportunity to understand where they are day-to-day and what their work includes, and they understand more of what our work includes.”

Jessica Angerman, Program Coordinator, Combined Residency Program, Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center

Watch the full interview with Jessica to learn more.

Increase Resident and Care Team Satisfaction With Better Scheduling

To learn more about how we can support better scheduling at your organization, click below to contact a scheduling specialist.

 

1. Duty Hours and Patient Safety, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Patient Safety Network, Sept. 7, 2019: psnet.ahrq.gov/primer/duty-hours-and-patient-safety

Real-Time Data Entry for Better Patient Care

Real-Time Data Entry Header

It has always been recommended that charting take place as near to the care event as practical, with the key word being “practical.” In reality, clinicians and nurses often stay after shifts to do their charting because entry is not seamless during patient care.

The more time that passes between the health event and the data entry, the less detailed the data input becomes and the greater its risk of containing errors. Delayed data entry impacts patient outcomes and creates unnecessary administrative overhead.

Benefits of Real-Time Data Entry

“Real-time electronic data is a potential treasure trove of insights, which can be analysed to improve patient care and use nurses’ time more effectively.”
– Helen Glenister, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of The Learning Clinic1

Real-time data entry has been shown to improve patient care (particularly the identification of patients who may be deteriorating), free up more direct-care time for nurses and clinicians, and help hospitals better deploy staff and resources.

According to a study published in Nursing Times, the availability of up-to-date data can help nurses and clinicians spot patterns in data that indicate a patient is deteriorating or may have an infection.1 While some data points may automatically feed into the EHR, vital observational data from nurses and doctors are not automatically entered.

Timely electronic recording of all clinical data—including observations, assessments, and actions—gives the overall picture of a patient and provides a clear data trail in the event of a complaint or incident investigation. Real-time documentation and order entry during rounding also helps speed up care and minimize future interruptions.2

The benefits of real-time data entry are well known, but challenging to achieve in some hospitals.

Challenges to Real-Time Data Entry

Siloed technology systems, device mobility limitations, and logistical issues in some EHRs can be the biggest barriers to real-time charting.

“One nurse believes that since going live, EHRs have added 3 hours to a
12-hour shift.” – Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS3

In order to chart data that is accurate, actionable, and timely, the care team must be supported with an integrated solution that allows for simplified real-time charting in the EHR/EMR.

How to Achieve Real-Time EHR Data Entry

Healthcare IT integration can be very complex, but the right technology can integrate disparate IT, clinical, telecom, and EMR/EHR systems to allow information to flow freely. The result is a cohesive, integrated communication ecosystem that ensures the right information is available at the right time to support quality patient-centered care.

An ideal solution will support real-time charting with:

  • Intelligent field mapping to reduce duplicate data entry.
  • Voice-to-text capability to speed up and simplify data entry.
  • An easy and elegant interface with all information available on a single platform; no switching between apps.
  • Easy transfer of clinical notes for rapid documentation.
  • Immediate delivery of critical lab and test results to the right clinician with date, time, recipient, delivery status, and read status auto-recorded to the EMR in accordance with Joint Commission requirements.

Next Steps for Getting Started

Explore how your team can combine real-time EHR data entry with seamless care coordination in one integrated solution by speaking with a clinical communication specialist.

 

Resources:
1. How real-time data can improve patient care, Nursing Times, Sep. 21, 2015: nursingtimes.net/clinical-archive/patient-safety/how-real-time-data-can-improve-patient-care-21-09-2015/

2. How Hospitalists Can Improve Efficiency on Inpatient Wards, The Hospitalist, Rajesh Chandra, MD, FHM, et. al., May 2014: the-hospitalist.org/hospitalist/article/126231/how-hospitalists-can-improve-efficiency-inpatient-wards

3. Electronic Nursing Documentation: Charting New Territory, Medscape, Sep. 12, 2013: medscape.com/viewarticle/810573

Rapid Critical Result Reporting With Clinical Communication Technology

Delays in communicating life-threatening lab or radiology results can lead to unnecessary patient transfers to higher levels of care and longer lengths of stay. In contrast, rapid and accurate communication of critical lab and radiology test results leads to timely clinical interventions, improved treatment outcomes, and prevention of comorbidities.

The Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goal 02.03.01 requires that organizations report critical results of tests and diagnostic procedures on a timely basis,1 yet some teams struggle to measure compliance and meet their goals. Even with the increasing number of high-tech tools available to hospitals, it’s not always easy for inpatient and outpatient laboratories to optimize critical value reporting due to several challenges.

For example, delays related to intermediaries and unavailability can affect reporting times. One of the most challenging aspects in an outpatient setting is the volume of unanswered pages and forgotten callbacks from providers, despite the fact that nearly 90% walk around with smartphones in their pockets.2 Compliance issues also tend to result from faulty processes in which the provider that ordered the test is no longer on call—a complication which, in an inpatient setting, requires the nurse to track down the correct covering provider.

To ensure that messages are received by providers that can immediately act upon the information, intelligent systems must be employed. Integration with modern clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) technology helps organizations ensure that test results are immediately delivered to the appropriate bedside nurse, ordering physician, and/or covering on-call provider. A comprehensive solution will also escalate results within specific timeframes if necessary and document all communication for auditing purposes.

Ensuring Timeliness and Accuracy in the Notification Process

The challenge some organizations face with the timely delivery of test results is ensuring that the correct person is notified. First, the right recipient can be difficult to determine when dealing with an expansive care team and complicated on-call provider coverage. Then, delivery of results can be a challenge due to varying levels of EHR access and adoption, sometimes in addition to technical message transmission issues.

Finally, confirmation that the test results were received and action is being taken is needed to close the communication loop, but various factors can lead to a lack of response from the recipient, such as:

  • An error in reaching a provider who is available to immediately act on the information (e.g. the correct on-call provider, covering physician, assigned nurse, or care team member).
  • Sending a message via EHR to an affiliated provider who does not access the EHR outside the facility (and therefore does not see the message).
  • A delay in message delivery because the recipient is beyond the reach of the hospital’s Wi-Fi and/or cellular coverage.
  • Alarm fatigue and/or confusion caused by a multitude of alert sounds that bombard clinical staff throughout their day.

The right CC&C technology can be very effective for automating protocols like those related to critical result notification to bypass various obstacles.

3 Keys to Success With Your Critical Result Communication Program

1. Guarantee that the correct care team receives the alert.

Your CC&C solution should offer the ability to customize which care team members are notified of which clinical findings. For example, a critical potassium alert might always go to the nurse and the provider, while a critical BUN only alerts the nurse. To inform message routing and ensure the correct team members receive the alert, the solution must rely on comprehensive electronic on-call schedules that incorporate service line, group, and personal coverage details. If multiple scheduling tools are used across the organization, they all must be integrated to inform accurate message delivery.
Additionally, your CC&C technology should integrate with all care team systems that house patient assignments including the EHR, nurse call, ancillary department applications, etc. to ensure that the appropriate patient care team members are alerted to new clinical findings.

2. Ensure that physicians, nurses, and care team members can easily acknowledge, accept, and decline/escalate results.

The improved process will garner greater adoption if all recipients can easily respond to alerts by tapping a button (e.g. “Acknowledge,” “Accept,” or “Decline”/“Escalate”) or selecting a response from a dropdown menu (e.g. “I’m entering an order in the EHR now.”).
The workflow can be further streamlined if the CC&C solution facilitates quick access to the EHR through a link within the result message. Tight application integration enables staff to seamlessly move between applications and functions to access patient context.

3. Build escalation protocols to transmit the critical result to the next-level provider if a response is not received within a certain timeframe.

If a physician, nurse, or care team member is either unavailable (e.g. in a sterile procedure) or inaccessible (e.g. offline; out of Wi-Fi range or cell coverage), the ideal solution will automatically escalate the message to ensure a timely response.

Consistency, a Sign of Success

As your new critical result reporting process reduces workload for staff by automatically delivering results to the correct recipient, an advanced CC&C solution also removes variability caused by the human element. A fully integrated solution will eliminate staff inconsistencies related to reaction times, follow-up with non-responsive individuals, and documentation of event notifications.

Evaluating the Timeliness of Reporting

The Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goal for communication of critical results and diagnostic procedures specifies the need to evaluate the timeliness of reporting. In the quest for continuous quality improvement, your CC&C solution should provide real-time dashboards that display acknowledgement status for all critical results and rich reports with auditing capabilities for all critical value communications.

Time stamps and event logs allow organizations to set goals, measure performance against established criteria, identify patterns (e.g. day of week, time of day), and most importantly, support accountability across providers and clinical staff.

“We measured our response time to critical lab alerts across 1,100 results and achieved a 42% improvement in acknowledgment times. The fastest alert read was two seconds, the fastest acknowledgment was 7 seconds, and the median acknowledgment time was one minute, 23 seconds. We’re extremely pleased with the role CC&C has played in our ability to monitor and manage critical result notifications.”

– Robyn Townsend, Assistant Director, Clinical Applications, Hospital for Special Surgery

If you’d like to explore how PerfectServe can help improve your laboratory and diagnostic reporting processes, click below to request a call with a clinical communication specialist.

Resources:

  1. National Patient Safety Goals Effective January 2017: Laboratory Accreditation Program, The Joint Commission, 2017: jointcommission.org/assets/1/6/NPSG_Chapter_LAB_Jan2017.pdf
  2. The Dilemma Surrounding Critical Value Reporting: What Does it Take to Improve Communication? Malone, B., Clinical Laboratory News,2012: AACC.org/publications/cln/articles/2012/december/critical-value-reporting.aspx

Improve Healthcare Operations With Clinical Workforce Analytics

Scheduling-AnalyticsWith rising labor costs,1 growing expenses, falling EBITDA, and decreasing operating margins,2 healthcare organizations need new strategies for controlling costs and improving operational efficiency. While analytics are often used to inform strategic decision making such as supply chain management, some healthcare organizations are missing the opportunity to use analytics to maximize their most important resource: their clinical workforce.

Let’s explore how an advanced provider scheduling solution can deliver analytics that play an essential role in improving healthcare operations.

Four Ways Workforce Analytics Improve Operations

  1. Reduce waste by adjusting staff levels to meet trends in patient demand.
  2. Ensure patient access and minimize leakage by maximizing clinical capacity across locations.
  3. Improve provider retention by increasing work-life balance and schedule autonomy.
  4. Optimize clinical staffing models to enhance productivity.

1. Reduce Wasted Resources

Advanced scheduling analytics allow your organization to identify trends in patient demand and service utilization across locations and departments to adjust staffing levels over time. You can analyze demand for specific services, determine the number of clinicians needed to deliver those services for a given timeframe, and reduce staff and labor costs when patient demand tends to be lower. Here is an example:

The Chief of Surgery wants to better understand seasonal trends in patient demand for elective surgeries. He runs a report and finds that case numbers are much lower during January and February. With granular insights into provider supply and patient demand, he is able to project exactly how many surgeons are needed during each shift. He asks the department scheduler to reduce staffing levels for January and February.

2. Ensure Patient Access

After using analytics to identify trends in patient demand, you can respond to rising demand by proactively increasing staff levels to improve patient access and increase revenue. For example:

The Emergency Department’s Medical Director runs a report and finds that during the summer months, the need for pediatric emergency care greatly increases. Currently, the team only staffs a single pediatric emergency physician. The Medical Director contacts the department scheduler and requests for a pediatric advanced practice provider to be added to the schedule for June through August.

In the example above, the ED has both increased patient access to pediatric emergency care and increased clinical capacity—helping the department generate more revenue based on a particularly common type of service for the specific timeframe.

3. Improve Provider Retention

A key approach to cost reduction is to improve provider retention. Replacing a single physician can cost anywhere from $500,000 up to $1 million, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).3 That means focusing on provider satisfaction and retention could save your organization hundreds of thousands of dollars.

According to the 2020 Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report, spending too many hours at work is a key contributor to provider burnout.4 But what is the definition of “too many hours” and how can you help prevent provider schedules from reaching the threshold?

Scheduling analytics help ensure that certain shifts, like weekends and call, are evenly distributed across a team of providers. You can also share reports with your team that show even shift distribution to eliminate any possible suspicion of unfairness, which may not completely eliminate the issue of spending too many hours at work, but it helps address a source of provider dissatisfaction.

4. Optimize Staffing Models

Not all providers and care team members are alike. Some prefer to work more than others, some practice part-time, and they each vary in their preferences and productivity levels, making it challenging to optimize staffing models by specialization and availability alone. Advanced reporting provides the detail needed to enhance your organization’s staffing models for productivity.

Over time, you can note which providers are more productive during specific shift times to create rules that schedule individual providers for their most productive shifts as needed. You can also review the larger impact of certain staffing models on productivity and adjust your scheduling rules on a macro level. Without scheduling analytics, this type of insight and optimization is nearly impossible. With the evolving demands and expectations in healthcare, it is also essential.

Interested in improving operations, reducing labor costs, and increasing patient and provider satisfaction with better clinical scheduling?

Learn more about the clinical workforce analytics available in our Optimized Provider Scheduling solution and how they can enhance your organization’s operations.

 

  1. Labor Management Trends, Healthcare Financial Management Association, Navigant, Aug. 2018: guidehouse.com/-/media/www/site/insights/healthcare/2018/navigant-hfma-2018-labor-pulse-survey.pdf
  2. Hospital profitability withers in November as volumes, revenues lag, Becker’s Healthcare, Morgan Haefner, Becker’s Healthcare Review, Jan. 2, 2020: beckershospitalreview.com/finance/hospital-profitability-withers-in-november-as-volume-revenues-lag.html
  3. At Stanford, physician burnout costs at least $7.75 million a year, American Medical Association, Sara Berg, American Medical Association, Nov. 17, 2017: ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-health/stanfordphysician-burnout-costs-least-775-million-year
  4. Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report 2020: The Generational Divide, Medscape, January 15, 2020: medscape.com/slideshow/2020-lifestyle-burnout-6012460 – 5

The Power of Provider Schedule Visibility

Provider schedule visibility—or lack thereof—has broad impacts on various aspects of patient care. Two top areas that can be improved by making schedules more visible are patient safety and provider satisfaction.

Patient Safety

A review from the Joint Commission reveals that communication failures are at the root of over 70% of sentinel events.1 Often, lapses in clinical communication are caused by the inability of care team members to locate and contact the correct provider, a problem exacerbated by siloed and outdated scheduling systems. If different department call schedules are accessed in different locations across the organization and providers are expected to go through different processes for each department, dangerous delays in communication are inevitable.

A study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality refers to the time care team members spend attempting—but failing—to contact the correct provider as “problematic time.” According to the study, many communication events include time spent searching for information, identifying the appropriate provider, or searching for accurate contact information.

On average, problematic time consisted of 10-40% of total communication time.1 To eliminate problematic time, schedules must make it easy to quickly locate and contact the correct provider.

“To be able to see who is the surgeon that’s going to be taking this case, who’s the radiologist on call, who’s the infectious disease provider on call—all at a glance—that just has huge value to an organization for patient safety and workflow efficiency.”

– Dr. Corey Joekel, Chief Medical Information Officer, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Omaha, Optimized Provider Scheduling Client

Smart organizations improve speed to care and reduce medical errors with one digital scheduling solution that offers the latest schedules and provider contact information for all departments at the touch of a button. An accessible solution also integrates real-time schedules with other essential systems, like the EHR, call center software, and clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) solutions.

Modern provider schedules that are centralized, easily visible, and always up to date make connecting with the right provider much quicker and easier, eliminating delays and streamlining patient care.

Provider Satisfaction

Inefficient and varying processes for locating the on-call provider can be a huge source of dissatisfaction for physicians, care team members, and administrators, contributing to increased turnover.1 A lack of schedule transparency is a frustrating issue that inhibits your staff’s perception of shift fairness, impedes their ability to collaborate quickly, and brings down their overall satisfaction at work. It’s easy to understand why…

A provider who cannot access a full view of the schedule is more likely to get the misconception that a coworker is getting “better” shifts than one who can easily pull up the full team schedule. Perceived unfairness leads to frustration, friction, and dissatisfaction. As provider dissatisfaction spreads, schedulers become overwhelmed with schedule complaints and shift change requests. In the absence of a scheduling solution that is easy to access, edit, and share, schedule changes increasingly pull schedulers away from other important tasks.

The vicious cycle repeats itself in teams that lack schedule visibility, leading to burnout and turnover.

With the cost to replace a physician ranging from $500,000-1 million2, healthcare organizations stand to lose thousands, even millions, of dollars annually in turnover.

Investing in better provider scheduling can save big money in the long run.

Better Scheduling Transparency Improves Healthcare

Ensuring provider shift and on-call schedules are easily accessible across your organization can dramatically increase both patient safety and provider satisfaction by improving healthcare operations.

Want proof? Optimized Provider Scheduling powered by Lightning Bolt helped UK Healthcare’s Hospitalist Department decrease the time to contact the on-call provider by 86.5%.

Contact one of our Clinical Scheduling Specialists today to learn how Optimized Provider Scheduling can drive results for your organization.

  1. Improving Patient Safety Through Provider Communication Strategy Enhancements, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Dingley C., et al., Advances in Patient Safety: New Directions and Alternative Approaches – Vol. 3, Aug. 2008: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK43663/
  2. Please don’t go: ways to reduce physician turnover, Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), Sep. 20, 2018: mgma.com/data/data-stories/please-don-t-go-ways-to-reduce-physician-turnover#:~:text=According%20to%20Christine%20Sinsky%2C%20MD,costs%20by%20reducing%20physician%20turnover

Manage Patient Surge with Advanced Provider Scheduling

Patient Surge: Meet Demand with Optimized Provider Scheduling

A key part of any emergency preparedness plan is ensuring patients have access to the care they need—when they need it! During any widespread emergency or disaster, every healthcare organization—whether it’s a small local practice or a large health system—must ensure it has the tools in place to meet unexpected patient surge. One of the most important tools for responding to rising patient demand during a crisis: an advanced provider scheduling solution.

Ensure Patient Access by Responding in Real Time

Unpredictable circumstances call for quick responses. An advanced provider scheduling solution enables an organization of any size to respond to unexpected patient surge in real time. Let’s walk through an example.

A natural disaster occurs near Central Hospital, a medium-sized acute care facility. The emergency department is not adequately staffed to meet the increase in patient demand. The department’s administrator launches the scheduling solution and sends a communication to all the department providers not already working to request additional coverage. When providers accept, they are immediately added to the schedule so they can report to the emergency department to provide coverage. The ability to make these quick changes might mean that a patient who otherwise would have had to wait longer due to overwhelmed clinical staff can now get the urgent care they need at the right time.

In addition to providing administrators the ability to communicate with clinical staff, an advanced scheduling solution also enables providers to easily communicate with administrators if emergency circumstances prevent them from being able to cover a shift. Instead of sending emails back and forth to colleagues and administrators trying to find shift coverage, providers can simply send a shift swap request to all available colleagues from the mobile application in less than a minute. When a colleague accepts the request, the change is reflected in real time for all team members to see.

Increase Visibility Across Locations and Departments

In a crisis, visibility into who is working where is key. Without a centralized scheduling solution, healthcare organizations lack both a single source of truth for evaluating staffing needs across locations/departments and the ability to quickly enact staffing changes.

For a hospital, enhanced visibility allows administrators and clinical leaders to ensure adequate staffing across several departments. For example, at a northern California hospital preparing for seasonal wildfires, administrators can evaluate coverage to ensure contingent departments, like the emergency department and the burn unit, have an adequate number of scheduled providers to respond to incoming wildfire injuries.

This level of visibility also enables health systems and multi-site group practices to evaluate staffing needs across all in-network locations in order to meet patient demand. For example—a multi-site group pediatric practice may offer weekend visits with exclusive hours at a specific practice location during flu season; with enhanced visibility administrators can predict weekend shift coverage needs and equitably allocate the appropriate amount of clinical staff to that specific location based on patient demand.

Enhance Communication & Collaboration Workflows

Particularly for a hospital or health system, improved schedule transparency not only allows leaders to make informed staffing decisions, but also empowers care teams to better communicate and collaborate. Collaboration between different specialty departments or providers across locations is essential during an emergency response.

For example:

During a surge in patient admission to the hospitalist department, an administrator makes a request for additional hospitalist coverage. As additional coverage is required, it is essential the coverage updates to the schedule are accessible to all care team members in real time, assuring your team the right messages are delivered to the right provider at the right time. With a scheduling solution, you ensure schedule changes are visible in real time, so your staff can easily contact the correct providers quickly—launching a call, text, or email to a provider directly from the application.

Ensure Ample Coverage in Any Crisis with an Agile Scheduling Solution—Launched in Just 48 Hours

The benefits of a scheduling solution for emergency preparedness are wide-ranging, but scheduling solutions can take up to three months to implement. Need an immediate scheduling solution to prepare your organization for patient surge? Learn more about our Rapid Surge Scheduling solution which is ready to launch just 48 hours.

How Virtual Waiting Rooms Protect Patients, Staff, and Productivity

How Virtual Waiting Rooms Protect Patients, Staff, and Productivity

A traditional waiting room can be a melting pot for germs and bacteria. Learn how a virtual waiting room protects patients and staff by reducing their risk of exposure to infection. Possible side effects: more pleasant patient-provider encounters, increased patient and provider satisfaction, better adherence to social distancing best practices, and improved overall outcomes.

May 2020, 90% of patients globally reported that the quality of care was as good or better with the recent surge in virtual care than care quality before COVID-19.1

What is a “virtual waiting room”?

If you’ve been out to eat at a restaurant in the past few years, you may have noticed a change in the experience of waiting for a table. Rather than asking you to stay within earshot while you wait, today’s hostess will likely request your cell phone number and offer to text you when your table is ready.

The text-to-table process makes the entire experience feel more personal, comfortable, and customer-centric. That’s because waiting is less unpleasant when you are free to do what you want—where you want—until the moment your turn arrives. Now, the same experience has become essential in healthcare to minimize patient discomfort and protect public safety with social distancing.

A virtual waiting room (aka mobile waiting room, zero-contact waiting room, or curbside check-in) is a service that allows patients to check in using their mobile phone and notifies them through a direct text message when it is their turn to be seen by the doctor.

An ideal virtual waiting room serves two essential purposes:

  1. Giving in-person patients the freedom to wait for their turn privately in their car or wherever they choose, rather than being confined to a stuffy, crowded waiting room and risking exposure to new germs and potential illness.
  2. Facilitating a smooth check-in process for telehealth visits.

Both purposes improve the patient experience and encourage healthy practices.

Why are virtual waiting rooms essential for in-person patient visits?

31% of patients say they are uncomfortable visiting a doctor’s office and 42% are uncomfortable visiting a hospital.2

Traditional waiting rooms that require patients to touch shared surfaces and breathe shared air are both uncomfortable and unsafe in the current environment. Virtual waiting rooms serve the important health purpose of enabling social distancing, and they also enhance the patient experience.

Unlike a traditional waiting room, a virtual waiting room reduces the risk of patients (and staff) associating your organization with frustrating factors beyond your control, which may include pesky sounds, smells, other people, and even boredom. As demand rises for a safer, more comfortable healthcare experience, virtual waiting rooms are the key to getting patients in the door while increasing their odds of leaving satisfied.

How can virtual waiting rooms apply to video visits?

Ideally, the same virtual solution used to help manage in-person patient visits can be adapted to also queue up video visits, allowing providers and patients to indicate when they are ready.

What’s the best way to implement a virtual waiting room?

In short, work with what you’ve got. If you have a patient engagement solution that can also facilitate a virtual waiting room and video visits, talk to your vendor about the next steps for launching a virtual waiting room.

If you do not have a solution for two-way texting or video visits with patients, or if you are looking for a replacement/upgrade to your current system, focus on finding a solution that can do the following:

  • Automated Appointment Reminders to Patients
  • Pre-Appointment and Pre-Arrival Instructions to Patients
  • Patient Arrival Notification via Simple Text
  • Entry Notification and Office Navigation Guidance
  • HIPAA-Compliant Video Connection
  • Scheduled and On-the-Fly Video Visits
  • Connect Without Requiring App Downloads or Passwords
  • Caller ID Protection for Providers
  • 24/7 Connection

Here’s a streamlined patient experience with an organization using all of the above capabilities:

Key Benefits of an Integrated Virtual Waiting Room

Virtual waiting rooms are extremely beneficial to patients, staff, and organizations that implement them, especially when they are integrated with other patient engagement solutions, such as video visits and HIPAA-compliant messaging.

Some of the top benefits include:

  • Patient Protection and Safety
  • Increased Patient Satisfaction
  • Reduced Frustration for Patients and Staff
  • Efficient Patient Intake
  • Reduced No-Shows

 

Get Started Now to See Benefits Sooner

Give your patients a safer, easier solution for maintaining their healthcare with a user-friendly, integrated virtual waiting room. To see how it works, click below.

Resources:

  1. Virtual care here to stay, PharmaTimes, Brad Michel, Jul. 21, 2020: pharmatimes.com/web_exclusives/Virtual_care_here_to_stay_1345204
  2. Breakdown of Changes in Consumers’ Health Care Behavior During COVID-19—INFOGRAPHIC, Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP), May 21, 2020: achp.org/research-breakdown-of-changes-in-consumers-health-care-behavior-during-covid-19

Comprehensive Clinical Communication to Support Mother-Baby Care Delivery

Nearly four million babies are born per year in the United States.1 Obstetricians, pediatricians, nurses, case managers, discharge coordinators, and various other providers and care teams work to ensure that mothers and babies have optimal solutions for pregnancy, labor, delivery, and child healthcare.

From preconception to parenthood, PerfectServe’s comprehensive communication solutions can help your practice provide top-notch care at every touchpoint of mother and baby’s healthcare journey. Click the image below to download the infographic.

1Births and Natality, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/births.htm

To learn more about how PerfectServe can support your organization in mother-baby care delivery, contact one of our Clinical Communication Specialists.