Nurses of Note Awards 2021: Week Four

 

PerfectServe’s Nurses of Note awards program focuses on the many nurses who deserve recognition for the dedication, sacrifice, and resilience they bring to work every day. For the inaugural Nurses of Note Awards, we have the privilege of highlighting a new level of commitment, strength, and integrity in nurses from around the country who have battled on the front lines of the still-raging coronavirus pandemic.

The actions of this diverse group of nurses highlight the extraordinary among us. Their stories give us a glimpse into the unique ways our nurses have fought this pandemic and made a difference in the lives of their patients and the communities they serve. Out of hundreds of nominations, we selected three nurses and one team of providers to spotlight as recipients of this award.

Honoree 4: Chief Operating Officer Erica Johnson and the COVID-19 Vaccination Nursing Team, Hampton Roads Community Health Center (Portsmouth, VA)

Erica Johnson and her team at the Hampton Roads Community Health Center (HRCHC) are not just nurses—they are educators, community liaisons, and friends to the people of Portsmouth, VA. This team of five nurses, dubbed the COVID-19 Vaccination Nursing Team, worked with unwavering resolve to serve the underserved throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Their names are Nicol Franklin, LPN; Daira Person, MA; Lawona Smith, RN, BSN; and Shaye Spellman, LPN. As Chief Operating Officer, Erica (who has been with HRCHC for 14 years) is the spokesperson for the team and shared how the facility had to adapt to continue providing the quality care they always strive for.

HRCHC is a federally funded, non-profit care center. Erica and her team serve an underserved population and pride themselves on being a “one-stop-shop” for “cradle to grave” care for those who would not normally have routine, accessible healthcare resources. As early as March 2020, the HRCHC was one of the first testing sites in the area for COVID-19. Dr. Vladimir Markovic, HRCHC’s Chief Medical Officer, implemented the COVID-19 Vaccination Nursing Team, and Erica led the team through 11- to 12-hour shifts, sometimes five to six days a week. The team updated their COVID-19 policies every weekend, adjusting to keep pace with the rapid flow of information and new understanding about the virus.

As a community health center, HRCHC couldn’t afford to stop primary and general care—the needs of the community didn’t cease to exist simply because COVID-19 was around. Erica and her team were able to continue seeing regular patients thanks to their rigorous attention to detail with infection control best practices. They were able to screen people and see regular patients as well as provide triage care over the phone. Amazingly, they had no in-house COVID infections thanks to their diligence.

As soon as the vaccine became available, HRCHC was one of the first vaccination locations in the area. But, as you might expect, they didn’t stop at just vaccinating those who came to their center—they also provided transportation to the clinic. They carried out community outreach and education about vaccination for those who were scared or nervous. Erica and her team acted as community liaisons, taking federal updates and translating them to make them more digestible for the people they serve. Erica’s team prioritized their outreach to the most vulnerable, striving to educate and encourage conversations about vaccination to alleviate hesitancy among their patients.

The Hampton Roads Community Health Center’s nominator wrote this about Erica and her team: “The due diligence and resiliency of HRCHC’s COVID-19 nursing team are undeniable, as they continue to be a living embodiment of our mission: serving as frontline, healthcare safety net professionals, delivering much-needed, accessible, quality healthcare to tens of thousands throughout the Hampton Roads region.”

What is one positive thing you and your team learned from COVID-19?

The team learned the value of talking and listening to people; in a pandemic, every vulnerability, every concern—everything was heightened. Heightened apprehension, depression, and anxiety. It made every word that everyone said potentially critical. We also learned that creating a learning environment is important. We realized that nobody knows anything when we’re supposed to know everything!

What was your team’s outreach strategy to encourage vaccination?

The most significant thing we’re doing is asking, “Why?” Everyone has their own reason for being skeptical. We approached the vaccines from an unbiased point of view and encouraged conversations around it. Once we talked to people about the vaccine and why it works in general terms, then we’d ask, “So do you want the vaccine?”

If you had to think of a word to describe the work your team has done during the pandemic, what would your work be?

Relentless … resilient. There have been so many challenges and barriers where we could have stopped. But for so many people, we are the only healthcare outlet they have. We couldn’t stop. We had to persevere.

What is your advice for new nurses coming into the field?

Do not expect anything particular; appreciate everything that happens, even the challenges. There’s no facet of healthcare that can’t utilize nursing in some capacity. Be open to different experiences. All of your patients are important, everyone is valuable, and everyone has something that makes them unique. Even COVID has made us stronger providers and practitioners of caring and healing. Always focus on the healing component of nursing.

Thank you, Erica, and the COVID-19 Vaccination Nursing Team at Hampton Roads Community Health Center!

Erica, your team’s service to the Portsmouth community has been impressive, honorable, and inspiring. Thank you for your dedication to underserved communities and for leading a relentless and resilient team!

Read the Full Winners List

Nurses of Note Awards 2021: Week Three

 

PerfectServe’s Nurses of Note awards program focuses on the many nurses who deserve recognition for the dedication, sacrifice, and resilience they bring to work every day. For the inaugural Nurses of Note Awards, we have the privilege of highlighting a new level of commitment, strength, and integrity in nurses from around the country who have battled on the front lines of the still-raging coronavirus pandemic.

The actions of this diverse group of nurses highlight the extraordinary among us. Their stories give us a glimpse into the unique ways our nurses have fought this pandemic and made a difference in the lives of their patients and the communities they serve. Out of hundreds of nominations, we selected three nurses and one team of providers to spotlight as recipients of this award.

Honoree 3: Missam “Sam” Merchant, MBA, BSN, RN, CCRN, PCCN, RN-BC, NE-BC; Hospital Supervisor for University Health System (San Antonio, TX)

Missam Merchant—who goes by Sam—wanted to be a doctor at a young age. His family could not afford that educational path, but Sam still found his way to a career in healthcare; nurses were needed in the United States, so his family agreed that nursing school would be his best bet. In school, he realized he could change the world by helping one person at a time, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Sam’s nominator described him as someone who shows humanity to every patient regardless of identity or background. He started to appreciate the impact he could have on the lives of others after providing care for a homeless man facing diabetic complications during nursing school. Since that moment, Sam has been utterly dedicated to helping his community and those who are underserved. In the past two years, he spearheaded many campaigns and fundraisers that provided donations for the homeless. He has conducted fundraising to the tune of more than $16,000 for blankets, hygiene kits, and more to support the homeless population and many shelters in San Antonio.

Even though it’s not what drives him, Sam is no stranger to recognition for the services he provides to his patients and coworkers—he has received many awards for his work. To name a few: The Weezie’s Angel Healthcare Hero Award, Best 25 Nurses of South Central Texas, and the 20 for 2020 Nurse Award (given by the Texas Nursing Association). As a leader, speaker, coach, and mentor, Sam is also a major proponent of higher learning and continued education.

Even with the challenges presented by the COVID pandemic, Sam was still able to help launch the San Antonio Indian Nurses Association (SAINA), a not-for-profit organization with over 300 nurse members intended to serve as “a professional body and resource for all licensed professional nurses of Indian descent/origin and heritage” in the United States. In fact, in the past year alone, he has given speeches, served as a mentor, submitted journals for publication, and founded not one, but two organizations. He also works to give free certifications to nurses in leadership and professional development (he’s taught 17 classes this year), equipping them with the training needed to move the needle on healthcare and education policy at the county and state levels.

A true advocate for diversity in nursing, education, and leadership, Sam is active in many diversity-centered associations and boards. He serves as president for SAINA, director for the Asian American Alliance of San Antonio (AAASA), is a member of the governing board for the National Association of Indian Nurses of America (NAINA), and is involved with many others. Sam provides safe and educational forums for nurses to collaborate on practices and how to best serve their communities.

What inspired you to become a nurse?

Nursing fell into my lap in India in 2003. I had a light bulb moment when I took care of a homeless patient who suffered from severe diabetes and had not received foot care for a year. I treated this patient, and at the end of the procedure, he gave me 10 rupees—the equivalent of about 14 cents. I realized how much impact I had on this one patient, who felt cared for and loved and was willing to give me his most valuable possession in return. 15 years later, I am proud and humbled to be a nurse who can continue to make a difference in patients’ lives.

What’s one piece of advice for nursing students entering the field?

Right from the beginning of your career, find a mentor who you can trust. The mentor will help you see things that you cannot see for yourself and will help to motivate you through feelings of burnout. Nursing is not easy; it requires ongoing learning, hard work, commitment, and selfless service.

What would you like to see change for nursing in the future?

The future of nursing is bright. Nurses are fighting for safe staffing, better access to care, and a healthy environment—both for themselves and for their patients. I want to see two things in the future of nursing: greater diversity and leadership. Diversity, equity, and leadership in nursing is the key to sustainability. The ability to compassionately care for our communities is the wave of the future.

How do you combat burnout in your professional life?

Burnout is real, but it’s seldom addressed by leadership and often ignored by nurses themselves. It then manifests itself in poor care, poor relationships, and broken homes. There are three levels to curbing personal and group burnout: Organization, microsystem, and personal. The organization level is a commitment from senior management to acknowledge burnout and put prevention measures in place. The microsystem level focuses on your team and team leader understanding workflow as a whole—how that workflow can lead to burnout when not managed well or when things are not adjusted when needed. This level can be managed by staffing correctly, promoting teamwork, creating acuity plans, and other leadership and organizational work. The personal level is an inward look at being mindful of when we are feeling burnout. Know the signs your body gives, know how to take mental health breaks, and know how to separate work and home life.

What’s your passion outside of nursing?

Working for non-profit organizations and impacting lives. I have been involved with various non-nursing organizations that are involved in early childhood education, alliance for minorities, and others. These organizations have made a big impact on my community.

If you had to pick one song that describes you as a nurse, what would it be?

“Firework” by Katy Perry. I am a nurse that believes in empowerment; inspiring the next generation of nurses to not give up and to push through to make a difference. Everyone is unique, and everyone needs to be able to shine in nursing and life.

Thank you, Sam!

Sam, through your commitment and dedication, you certainly light up other peoples’ lives—just like a firework. Thank you for your continued service to your patients, your fellow nurses, and your community, and congratulations for being named a 2021 Nurse of Note.

Read the Full Winners List

Nurses of Note Awards 2021: Week Two

 

PerfectServe’s Nurses of Note awards program focuses on the many nurses who deserve recognition for the dedication, sacrifice, and resilience they bring to work every day. For the inaugural Nurses of Note Awards, we have the privilege of highlighting a new level of commitment, strength, and integrity in nurses from around the country who have battled on the front lines of the still-raging coronavirus pandemic.

The actions of this diverse group of nurses highlight the extraordinary among us. Their stories give us a glimpse into the unique ways our nurses have fought this pandemic and made a difference in the lives of their patients and the communities they serve. Out of hundreds of nominations, we selected three nurses and one team of providers to spotlight as recipients of this award.

Honoree 2: Vera Hall, SVP/Chief Nursing Executive for St. Elizabeth Healthcare (Cincinnati, OH Area)

In the fourth grade, Vera Hall wrote that nursing was her dream profession. Her older sister told wonderful stories about her time in nursing school, and it made Vera want to help people in their time of need. As it turns out, that dream never faded. Vera now serves as the SVP and Chief Nursing Executive at St. Elizabeth Healthcare in the Cincinnati area, and she has amassed more than 26 years of experience in the field.

Vera’s service throughout the pandemic can best be described as proactive, innovative, and transparent. Before the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic was fully realized, Vera took immediate and strategic action to designate one of the five St. Elizabeth Healthcare facilities as a COVID-19 facility. She then worked vigilantly with supply and management teams to purchase 30 HEPA filter fans and to convert over 160 patient rooms to negative pressure rooms.

Vera’s perceptive planning didn’t stop there. She deployed the Infectious Disease Response Team (IDRT) to provide comprehensive care for patients with COVID-19, protecting both patients and healthcare workers. She then expanded the IDRT team from 50 to 400 associates—an 800% increase—when the pandemic continued to intensify.

To protect the jobs of many coworkers, Vera also implemented a Surge Staffing office, placing associates and healthcare workers where additional staff were needed instead of furloughing them or eliminating their jobs. Workers were able to call Vera’s Surge Staffing office to receive shifts and help alleviate some of the pressure caused by high case numbers. Due to Vera’s novel and proactive approach, no St. Elizabeth associate was furloughed or laid off.

Vera collaborated with many local health departments, colleges, educators, healthcare facilities, and others during the height of the pandemic and as vaccines became available. Innovative solutions during times of peak case numbers included manual proning beds for improved oxygenation of patients, iPads for patient communication with families, cameras in rooms for remote patient monitoring, and expanded telemetry monitoring capacity as need arose. Vera also worked to onboard 33 retired nurses to assist with vaccinating the public.

Vera has been intensely dedicated to her facility and team during the pandemic. She visited nursing units day and night to provide much-needed support for nurses and other staff. Vera made sure to provide timely COVID-19 communication to keep all St. Elizabeth associates safe and informed over the past 14 months, and she continues to do so today.

What inspired you to become a nurse?

In the fourth grade, I had a class assignment to write an autobiography that included my dream profession; I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be a nurse. My sister was in nursing school, and I had always looked up to her; hearing her stories and experiences really inspired me. I wanted to help people in their time of need and make their patient experience as personal as possible. I followed this career pursuit and have never looked back. This career has been an absolute blessing to both me and my family.

What’s one piece of advice for nursing students entering the field?

First and foremost, embrace every moment and experience. Some days will feel longer than others. No matter what type of day or challenge you have, there will always be something new to learn. Nurses are trusted, valued members of the healthcare team, and this has never been more evident than it is today. Your success will continue to grow as you remain open to new experiences and new ways of doing things. Support your peers who are entering the profession, prioritize your health and wellness, and above all, always remember why you decided to become a nurse!

What would you like to see change for nursing in the future?

Even prior to the pandemic, demands in the nursing profession had intensified due to a high volume of nurses retiring in the last decade and a patient population that is more and more composed of aging individuals. In addition, we’re experiencing physician shortage nationwide. We are seeing nurse practitioners practicing independently in a greater capacity. That said, we need to continue to offer more nursing education options—whether that be online or for specialized areas of nursing—so that these growing healthcare demands can be satisfied.

How do you combat burnout in your professional life?

As a young nurse leader, I was not the best example of managing a work-life balance. I eventually learned to leave work at work so I could fully embrace my life outside of it. I value time with my husband and family, though at times work crosses over into my personal life (especially over this past year). I have been doing a better job of disconnecting; whether it be through travel or simply reading a book, I can allow my mind to rest, which is the best way I can manage burnout.

What’s your passion outside of nursing?

I absolutely love the beach—it’s always on the top of my travel list. The laid-back atmosphere, smells of the water and air, and beautiful natural sights and scenery; the overall environment is so relaxing.

If you had to pick one song that describes you as a nurse, what would it be?

The song “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson Five!

Thank you, Vera!

Vera’s nominator described her as someone who “lives for others.” It’s an apt testament, because her unwavering efforts and focus on readiness over the past 14 months have likely saved lives in her community. From the entire team at PerfectServe, thanks for the work you do every day, and congratulations for being named a 2021 Nurse of Note.

Read the Full Winners List

Nurses of Note Awards 2021: Week One

 

Nurses of Note Yoji Patil

PerfectServe’s Nurses of Note awards program focuses on the many nurses who deserve recognition for the dedication, sacrifice, and resilience they bring to work every day. For the inaugural Nurses of Note Awards, we have the privilege of highlighting a new level of commitment, strength, and integrity in nurses from around the country who have battled on the front lines of the still-raging coronavirus pandemic.

The actions of this diverse group of nurses highlight the extraordinary among us. Their stories give us a glimpse into the unique ways our nurses have fought this pandemic and made a difference in the lives of their patients and the communities they serve. Out of hundreds of nominations, we selected three nurses and one team of providers to spotlight as recipients of this award.

Honoree 1: Yoji Patil, MSN, RN, CNOR of Stamford Health (Stamford, CT)

Yojana Patil—who goes by Yoji—believes that nursing chose her. She accidentally stepped into her career when she took an entrance exam to support a friend who wanted to pursue nursing. Twenty-plus years later, Yoji found herself battling on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, she helped to launch the ICU Family Liaison Program at Stamford Health to keep ICU and palliative teams in communication with patients and their families while visitation restrictions were in place.

Yoji was nominated by her Stamford Health coworker Michelle Watson, who serves as Nurse Manager for the ICU and IMCU. Michelle wrote that Yoji’s ICU Family Liaison Program initiation felt seamless, and that Yoji deserves full credit for what the program was able to accomplish.

The ICU Family Liaison Program has kept patients and their families connected in a time when communication is more important than ever. Yoji wrote the training and communication guide for the program, which covers four intensive care units for eight hours a day, seven days a week. She individually called and updated families of patients, organized patient care across multiple specialties, and facilitated conference calls—all on top of her regular nursing schedule.

Her nominator Michelle summed up Yoji’s efforts by saying, “I am proud to work with Yoji and to be a witness to such an important initiative that provides much-needed information and comfort to families.”

Yoji’s service to her patients did not stop when she was tired. Throughout the pandemic, she worked weekends and holidays to provide continuous care. On Mother’s Day, she organized a video call with all of her female patients’ children, allowing them to see their mothers even though they couldn’t be together in person.

Throughout the pandemic, Yoji has been a caretaker and advocate for those who lost their lives to COVID-19. She has held the hands of dying patients whose families couldn’t be there to comfort them. On multiple occasions, Yoji obtained permission to allow family members to visit and say goodbye to loved ones when a patient’s outcome looked grim. Yoji was and remains a steady support system to families facing the bereavement process.

Yojana Patil’s service to her patients, her colleagues, and her community is an emphatic demonstration of character, empathy, and commitment to nursing.

What inspired you to become a nurse?

Sometimes you choose a profession, but in my case, the profession chose me. I accompanied my friend to the entrance exam for a reputed nursing school in Mumbai. The principal was walking by and asked me, “Instead of waiting outside, why don’t you sit in for the exam?” I did end up taking the test, and now I can’t imagine choosing any other profession.

What’s one piece of advice for nursing students entering the field?

Nursing is a work of heART. Nursing is a way of living for the rest of your life. It’s not just a job—once a nurse, always a nurse.

What would you like to see change for nursing in the future?

I would love to see nursing at the forefront of healthcare. I want to see nurses advocating for patients, especially the population that has no voice.

How do you combat burnout in your professional life?

I have tremendous support from my family, friends, and coworkers. I use mindfulness in my daily activities, especially on hectic days. Emotional burnout is a real thing. Nurses around the world are feeling helpless and emotionally drained as an effect of this pandemic. Most of us have PTSD from our experiences and the difficult outcomes we’ve witnessed.

Taking care of your physical and mental health is just as important as taking care of your patients. A quick five-minute deep breathing session before walking into unknowns, such as receiving a new patient or beginning a shift, goes a long way.

What’s your passion outside of nursing?

I love Zumba. I also went skydiving on my 40th birthday! I have traveled to four continents so far and would love to explore Africa next. To sum it up, I enjoy dancing, traveling, and adventure sports. I’m not the best at sports, but that doesn’t stop me from trying!

If you had to pick one song that describes you as a nurse, what would it be?

If I had to pick a song, it would be “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson. But this excerpt from a poem—which I wrote with my coworker and fellow nurse, Seema Pillai—really describes me as a nurse:

Today I feel like a soldier, waging a war,
With limited weapons, I return home each day with many a scar.
But I will fight valiantly and will not despair,
‘Cos I go to work each day with weapons invisible—faith, hope, trust, and a prayer.

Nursing is my calling
And when duty calls, I will not fail,
I know there’s light at the end of the tunnel, I know I’ll live to tell this tale.

Thank you, Yoji!

Your hard work and dedication to exceptional patient care is recognized and appreciated by your colleagues and the team at PerfectServe. We wish you all the best in your continued efforts to make life better for the individuals and families who trust you with their care.

Read the Full Winners List

4 Best Smartphones for Nurse Communication

Banner graphic with blog title, "4 Best Smartphones for Nurse Communication," and outline illustration of a nurse using a smartphone.

Smartphones have the potential to transform workflows for nurses and other hospital caregivers. Rather than carrying around multiple devices, smartphones give clinicians mobile access to the EMR, integration with nurse call and telemetry, and secure clinical collaboration.

Many leading hospitals and health systems have enlisted PerfectServe as a partner in their transition to smartphones for nurse communication and mobility. If you are looking to enhance clinical collaboration and accelerate speed to care, here are some key insights on how to mobilize care team communication by selecting the right mobile devices for nurses.

The Best Mobile Devices in Healthcare for Nurses

Zebra Technologies TC52-HC1

Zebra has been in the healthcare space for years, with their MC40 mobile computers and broad range of solutions like printers, scanners, and kiosks. A few years ago, they introduced the TC51-HC and quickly followed it up with the evolved TC52-HC.

The TC52-HC is a healthcare-focused unit that offers strong hardware performance and support for modern versions of Android. The device is protected by a rugged exterior that’s built to survive day to day in a nursing unit.

As an enterprise device, the TC52-HC is available with built-in telephony, barcode scanning, robust battery capabilities, and many more features that come in handy in a healthcare setting. Like the other purpose-built Android devices on our list, the TC52-HC is a hardened device that can withstand repeated drops, exposure to liquids, and frequent exposure to healthcare disinfectants.

Improving upon the TC51-HC, the TC52-HC offers an additional microphone, advanced noise cancellation, and a louder speaker to hear and be heard in noisy environments. Its battery is the largest of our recommended devices, and Zebra includes software tools that ensure the battery will last through an entire 12-hour shift.

Why choose it: Long-Term Quality

Zebra and its partner network are well established in healthcare, offering plenty of resources to help your project succeed. Zebra made sure the TC52-HC is backwards compatible with TC51-HC accessories and future-proofed the device through Android 10 and later.

Honorable Mention: TC21-HC

Zebra also recently introduced a new TC21-HC device, targeted at ancillary healthcare workers like environmental services, transport, and food service staff. The TC21-HC offers most of the same features as the TC52-HC in a slightly smaller, more cost-effective package.

Apple iPhone SE2

As a consumer-grade device, the iPhone delivers leading-edge hardware and software wrapped in a small, sleek package.

Compared to most enterprise-specific devices, an iPhone SE is a low-cost option. However, as a consumer phone, the Apple device will not offer the ruggedness, battery capabilities, native IP telephony, and other enterprise-grade features. Third-party protective sleds and charging solutions are available to make the device hospital ready.

The low cost, form factor, and familiarity of the iPhone make it a good option in the current device market.

Why choose it: iOS

If your organization prefers the Apple mobile operating system, your device choice is clear.

Spectralink Versity3

Spectralink has years of experience providing voice handsets that run on hospital wireless networks. After entering the smartphone market in 2014 with the Pivot, Spectralink rolled out the Versity to customers in late 2018.

Looking at the spec sheet, the Versity checks all the boxes for ruggedness, battery, telephony, etc. Its hardware and Android 8 operating system raised the bar in the enterprise device market.

Spectralink emphasizes voice quality with the Versity, leveraging years of wireless handset experience and advanced audio processing software. The device is available with a scanner or without for a sleeker, lower-cost option.

Why choose it: Form Factor

The Versity is slim and light, as close as you will find to a consumer phone in a rugged package.

Ascom Myco4

Another company with deep healthcare experience, Ascom offers the Myco 3 smartphone alongside its wireless telephone and nurse call products. Although the Myco 2 received mixed reviews, the new Ascom Myco 3 (launched in 2019) shows great potential as a nursing device. The five-inch screen, battery, ruggedness, and operating system are all in line with the Zebra and Spectralink devices.

Ascom has followed a more traditional smartphone form factor with the Myco 3, but they have added some creative functional touches. The device includes a removable clip to attach to a waistband or pocket. When worn clipped to scrubs, the top edge features multi-color LEDs that supported apps can use to signal informative notifications. The dedicated barcode scanner is on the rear, rather than the top, so users can see the screen easily while they point the scanner.

The Myco 3 is the newest device on this list. We had great results testing the device in our certification lab, and now we look forward to real-world feedback from our customers.

Why choose it: The Ascom Touch

Health systems already using Ascom nurse call and wireless phones should certainly consider the Myco 3 mobile device, along with any other team that could benefit from its unique ergonomic design.

Effective Communication in Nursing

Now is an exciting time as manufacturers continue to bring improved smartphones to the market. PerfectServe is here to share our experience and help you achieve your goals for clinical communication.

If you want more information about nurse mobility, check out our complete guide on clinical collaboration systems for hospitals and health systems.

See the Guide

 

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Fighting Alarm Fatigue for Nurses in 5 Steps

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

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

3 Ways to Save Nurses’ Time With Better Communication

Nurses play a central role in providing patient-centered, cost-effective care. They are responsible for care coordination and communication with each patient’s family members, as well as a growing care team of physicians and specialists, ancillary staff, and care coordinators. In addition to nurses’ growing list of daily nonclinical tasks, inefficient care coordination workflows prevent them from providing better patient care.

A 2018 time and motion study revealed that in four hours, nurses spent around 32 minutes communicating with patients and family and 51 minutes communicating and coordinating care with members of the care team1—fully 34.6% of nurses’ time each day. Technology aimed at improving nurse workflows has often contributed to their frustration by adding siloed, task-specific “solutions” to their workload. On top of this, nurse turnover rates increased from 13.5% to 16.7% during 2019.2 From 2020-2021, nurses felt burnt out and overworked due to increased patient demand, poor communication, and hospital staffing shortages.

Let’s talk about an alternative approach to help these medical heroes on the frontlines. Read below for three ways clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) technology can help healthcare organizations empower their nurses to drive patient-centered care.

Reduce Communication Cycle Times

Communication workflows can be cumbersome, requiring nurses to reference several systems or paper on-call schedules. When they go to page, call, and relay information through office staff, they have to wait for the intended recipient to call back. This error-prone process causes care delays and requires repetitive steps when a provider is unavailable.

An improved communication strategy built around an integrated healthcare solution can reduce average response times from 45 minutes to 20 minutes or less.3 Here are a few capabilities that make it easier for nurses to find the right physician at the right time:

  • A single, unified directory to find and contact clinicians by name, role, and on-call status (e.g. “cardiologist on call”).
  • Ability to send messages to the whole patient care team at the touch of a button.
  • Built-in physician contact preferences to ensure communication is delivered via the most preferred messaging alert method.
  • Read receipts and smart escalation routing to ensure messages are read, acknowledged, and acted upon in a timely manner.
  • Message history and EHR integration for quick context.

Faster communication leads to a safer, quicker, and higher quality patient experience.

“When healthcare professionals communicate effectively—conveying critical information in a timely or easily understandable manner, clearly spelling out orders or instructions, and answering questions thoroughly and thoughtfully—they deliver safer and higher-quality care.” -James Merlino, MD

Integrate Alerts and Critical Result Notifications

Alarms, alerts, and other notifications continue to be named among the top 10 health technology hazards for 2020,4 impacting patient satisfaction and contributing to alarm fatigue. This fatigue continues to be an issue for healthcare employees and nursing staff.

In a 2015 study, nurses reported that only 52% of bed calls required nursing care, while others could be answered by support staff.5 Constant interruptions reduce care efficiency and require nurses to make multiple unnecessary trips to patient rooms. While nurses are inundated with alerts, they are not adequately alerted of critical results and orders that truly need their assistance. They are forced to repeatedly check the EHR for updates, wasting valuable time for patients in need.

Centralizing alerts and communication across multiple systems, including the EHR and nurse call system, can eliminate noise, add context to alert notifications, and call attention to critical alerts by allowing:

  • Delivery of alerts to mobile devices, where nurses can accept, escalate, or call back to speak with the patient.
  • Push notification of critical results (lab or radiology) or physician orders to speed up time to care.
  • Routing of nonclinical alerts to patient care techs or nursing assistants.
  • Workflow rules to help ensure that only critical alarms disrupt normal workflows and are differentiated with a distinct alert tone.
  • Clinical surveillance to send push alerts for sepsis, respiratory deterioration, organ failure, etc.
  • Routing of “leads off” alarms to only alert the nurse assigned to that specific patient, set to escalate to the charge nurse if the assigned nurse does not respond within a predetermined time frame, eliminating an audible, ward-wide alert.

In addition to better medical alert systems, learn how nurses can improve self care.

Simplify Patient Engagement

Nurses are tasked with keeping family members up to date on patient status, sharing care instructions, arranging discharge, and following up with patients and their families after discharge. As nurses invest increasing amounts of time in patient and family engagement activities, they become more confined to the nurses’ station and less available at the patient bedside.

Post-discharge patient engagement relies heavily on phone communication. This has a declining impact due to phone tag and low voicemail retrieval rates. With spammy robocalls and unsolicited messages on the rise, it’s no wonder patient follow up becomes and arduous task.

On the other hand, secure texting with patients and families allows health systems to automate more effective outreach in the following ways:

  • Share care instructions, arrange discharge, and answer questions.
  • Route inbound messages to the call center, rather than the nurse, for triage.
  • Automate patient outreach, such as surveys, post-discharge instructions (tailored to the patient profile), and referrals.
  • Support two-way communication and allow individuals to respond to patients as needed, leveraging the expertise of nurse assistants, call agents, and more.

Start Saving Nurses’ Time

PerfectServe’s CC&C solution with patient engagement capabilities helps streamline nurse workflows, reduce care delays, improve patient safety, and boost patient satisfaction. To learn more, contact us or click below.

PerfectServe’s Solution for Nurses

 

References:

  1. Nurses’ Time Allocation and Multitasking of Nursing Activities: A Time Motion Study, AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings, 2018: 1137-1146, Yen, P. et al., 2018: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371290/#r34-2975707
  2. Why so many nurses are quitting (and what to do about it), Peng, J., Rewers, L., 2021: https://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2021/10/06/nurse-turnover
  3. Secure Clinical Communications Makes Real Patient Impact, Health IT Outcomes, Griffith, A., 2015: healthitoutcomes.com/doc/secure-clinical-communications-makes-real-patient-impact-0001
  4. 2020 Top 10 Health Technology Hazards Executive Brief, 2020: org/landing-2020-top-ten-health-technology-hazards
  5. Interruptions of nurses’ activities and patient safety: an integrative literature review, Revista Latino-Americana de Enfermagem, Monteiro Cintia et al., 2015: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4376046

Elevating the Role of the Nurse to Support Value-Based Care

When nurses collaborate together, they help the patients and healthcare systems win together. As healthcare has evolved toward a value-based payment model, nurses bridge the gap between hospital leadership and the patient experience. Progressive and innovative healthcare organizations are embracing this new focus on value-based care. It has shifted toward an interdisciplinary approach which leverages population health management and social determinants of health. This increase in patient engagement improves outcomes across the spectrum of care.

“Nursing is a critical player that can directly or indirectly influence hospital performance in the 3 CMS value-based care programs…Nurses are the curial hub that links individuals with the disparate spokes of the health system.”¹

The role of the nurse elevates with value-based care. Nurses provide more patient-centered, efficient, and cost-effective care. From the pre-appointment and intake to discharge and follow-up, nurses can streamline clinical workflows. In the primary care setting, progressive providers have increased patient access by conducting nurse-only patient visits, during which registered nurses document patient histories, order lab or other diagnostic tests, and determine patient acuity. If these wellness visits are virtual, nurses can triage if the patient needs to be admitted right away or if an appointment should be scheduled with their specialist or primary care physician. 

Increased Demand for Nurse-to-Patient Care

To meet the increased demands of value-based care, nurses must work to the top of their licensure. Studies conducted several years ago indicated that, on average, nurses spend as little as 25% to 30% of their time at the bedside.2 On top of clinical workloads, nurses are responsible for care coordination and collaboration among an expanding team of medical professionals and specialists.

Care teams have expanded under value-based care incentives to include nurses, physicians, therapists, and home care workers across multiple hospitals and acute and primary settings. Through these changes, nurses struggle with inefficient workflows associated with legacy communication devices and numerous clinical and communication systems. 

What is being done to help nurses spend more quality time with patients? 

Read how Orange Coast Medical Center implemented PerfectServe’s Clinical Communication & Collaboration system to give time back to nurses for a better patient experience.

Read Our Success Story

The key to supporting the elevation of the nurse is the elimination of activities that do not directly contribute to the health and well-being of patients. The incorporation of innovative technology can assist in this effort. For example, advanced communication technology can help nurses communicate efficiently with other members of the care team including those off-site, such as home health nurses and healthcare professionals at specialized hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and wound care clinics. 

HIPAA-compliant secure text messaging may take over many of the time-consuming communication tasks to prepare or follow-up with patients. The ideal solution helps reduce non-clinical tasks to allow nurses to focus their time on those patients who need additional care or have chronic condition management needs.

How PerfectServe’s Platform Helps Nurse Collaboration

PerfectServe’s clinical communication and care coordination platform addresses the inefficiencies of work processes and administrative tasks. This allows nurses to assume a more significant role under value-based care, including:

  • Care Team Coordination – Collaborate with providers inside and outside the network. Connect with on-call care team members as a group, or by name or role such as “On-Call Cardiologist.” This ensures a nurse can reach the right physician at the right time to accelerate outcomes, without the inefficiencies of referencing call schedules or playing phone-to-pager tag with physicians.
  • Pre-Appointment Patient Communication – Automate the communication for day-of-procedure information, appointment reminders, and wayfinding to prepare patients for upcoming appointments or procedures.
  • PostAppointment Patient Communication – Automate post-discharge communications to reiterate the care plan, send timely reminders (such as follow-up scheduling and prescription pick up), and assess patient health status and satisfaction with text-first survey questionnaires. Nurses can prioritize follow-up time to only those patients in need of clinical intervention.
  • Time-Critical Updates – Rather than force nurses to log into the EHR to check for results or orders, critical updates (orders and critical lab results) are pushed to the nurse and other care team members to speed up care coordination and delivery.
  • Real-Time Charting – A mobile, easy-to-use interface to access patient information and take notes, with text shortcuts, voice-to-text, and intelligent field mapping to reduce duplicate data entry.
  • Nurse Call, Alarms, Alerts – Nurses receive alerts on their mobile devices and web apps, where they can accept, escalate for assistance, or call back to speak with the patient.

By expanding the role and leadership of registered nurses and implementing improved processes facilitated by innovative technology, healthcare organizations can transform healthcare delivery, achieving improved efficiency and better outcomes at lower costs.

Learn More

1https://www.nurseleader.com/article/S1541-4612(20)30210-X/fulltext
2https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/nursing/outsourcing-discharge-follow-calls-keep-nurses-bedside

Managing the surprisingly troublesome impact of real-time healthcare on clinical decision-making

We live in an age of instant gratification. From the texts we send friends and family to the orders we place on Amazon.com, we’ve come to expect immediate results: instant responses, next-day shipping, etc.

The idea of immediacy in healthcare communications is not new. In fact, in 2015, healthcare analyst Gartner outlined a vision for what it dubbed the “real-time health system”—a landscape where healthcare professionals will be constantly aware of what’s happening within their systems and with their patients.

As a person living in the digital age, you’ve probably experienced real-time awareness in other parts of your life: the repetitive dings of received text messages, the intermittent beeps of calendar alerts, the near-constant hum as your smartphone vibrates over and over to let you know your mother, children and cousins have uploaded photos to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. In fact, as I’m typing this piece, I’ve heard alerts for two personal text messages that I’ve yet to look at (the temptation is maddening), four work-related emails (that I did have to stop and look at), a notification that someone commented on a thread I replied to on Facebook and more.

While there’s definitely a benefit to each of us knowing what’s happening in our expanded universe in real time—and we can easily draw a direct line to the benefits that doctors, nurses and patients would experience if they could communicate instantaneously while coordinating care—the influx of information is simply overwhelming.

And when alarm fatigue sets in, important messages get missed, the communication cycle breaks down and what was once a valuable resource becomes a liability. Overwhelmed and inundated clinicians cannot optimally use their invaluable expertise to make effective clinical decisions that deliver great health outcomes.

Aggregating, analyzing and managing the distribution of clinical information

Managing the flow of data and alert fatigue is a real challenge that clinicians and the IT teams that support them need to understand. Clinicians need “just the facts, ma’am,” so to speak, and they need to know which set of facts pertain directly to them and the patients for whom they are caring. Receiving more than enough information is not always a good thing, especially when the situation calls for fast thinking and quick decisions.

Investments made in technologies implemented over the past several years have enabled healthcare as an industry to generate very large amounts of digitized clinical information. The challenge is to aggregate this patient data in real time to generate new knowledge about a patient and distribute it in a way that does not inundate the clinician recipients with unnecessary information. Physicians and nurses should receive information they need in order to act in that moment. Everything else is noise.


Learn how a care team communication solution can enable your clinical integration strategy. Get a demo.


Implementing communication-driven workflows

Once new knowledge is made available and deemed relevant to a given clinical situation, it’s important to enable workflows that drive this information to the right care team members, who can take action in that moment. Hospital-based communication workflows must encompass all modalities, adhere to strict security mandates and facilitate reliable exchanges among clinicians across boundaries (e.g., acute, pre-acute and post-acute care settings). This kind of clinical integration is the future of healthcare communications.

If clinicians are inundated with unnecessary information, messages and alerts, combined with a communication workflow that creates barriers to a) finding the right care team member to contact, b) finding the contact method that the clinician prefers and c) knowing whether the intended recipient received the message, the workflow is flawed and is inhibiting the decision-making that leads to higher standards of patient care.

Leveraging clinical expertise

The personal judgment of experienced healthcare professionals is irreplaceable in effective, real-time decision-making. Technological advances are no doubt improving healthcare, but human intuition can never be replaced by a new device or software. However, that intuition can be inhibited by technologies if they are not strategically implemented and managed. In this sense, real-time healthcare could, ironically, be eroding quality.

To truly leverage the hundreds of collective years of clinical expertise housed in the minds of your hospital’s medical staff—the expertise that yields great outcomes—you must remove the barriers to effective communication. Collecting patient data in real time is an important part of that. But analyzing and aggregating that data into digestible, valuable pieces of information that can be easily shared and collaborated on is the follow-through that is often overlooked.

The gravitation toward instant gratification isn’t going away. And it’s important to understand that the concept doesn’t apply simply to generating patient data as healthcare events are occurring, but also to the ability to extract the significant portions and begin collaborating with the broader care team to interpret the data and derive a plan to deliver high-value care.

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