Smart Room Integrations: A Catalyst for Safety and Nursing Efficiency

May is National Nurses Month, and we’re continuing to shine a light on the powerful role nurses play in improving the lives of patients and communities across the country. Previously, we highlighted the work of our own nursing team, and how their incredible backgrounds have positioned them to effectively represent the voice of nurses in the design and deployment of technology initiatives. This week, we’re diving into the role technology integration can play in supporting bedside nurses and elevating their profession.  

Establishing the Source of Truth

Integrations come in various shapes and sizes, but for many hospitals it all starts with the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). EMR integration is essential as it provides a single source of truth for each patient’s individual healthcare journey. Nurses rely on the EMR for a host of reasons that directly impact patient outcomes—Rx dosage amounts, pre-op and post-op instructions, pre-existing medical conditions, and more. While the EMR is a critical source of data, it is not designed with clinical workflow in mind. Research has shown links between the EMR and nurse dissatisfaction, as well as negative implications on patient care outcomes—indicating that usability is critical to nurse satisfaction and patient outcomes.

Using the ADT feed is also a critical data source to the day-to-day workflow of bedside nurses. ADT stands for admission, discharge, and transfer, and feeds information to the EMR about a patient and previous healthcare encounters. The ADT helps to ensure the correct patient’s data is tracked within each encounter. The ADT feed also supplies important patient information such as the patient’s preferred language, their primary contact, insurance details, if they have a healthcare power of attorney, if they choose a DNR, DNI or Full-Code, and many other critical data elements that impact their care.

A Need for a Better Way

Staffing challenges are not an anomaly. A recent poll of registered nurses in Michigan found that many would be more likely to stay at the bedside if the state passed laws limiting the number of patients each nurse can be assigned. Seven in ten RNs working in direct care said they were assigned an unsafe patient load in half or more of their shifts, and over nine in ten nurses complained that assigning too many patients at once also negatively impacts patient care. In fact, the percentage of patient deaths resulting from a nurse being assigned too many patients nearly doubled from 22% in 2016 to 42% this year.

Technology can never and should never replace empathy and the human touch that is so critical in healthcare. However, the vast majority of RNs point to workflow inefficiencies and limited resources as the factors driving them out of the field. Technology can address these issues directly by enhancing the work environment with the tools they need to feel supported so they can prioritize what’s most important: caring for their patients.

Improve Patient Safety

To illustrate this point, The Joint Commission found that adverse events rose 19% in 2022. An adverse event is defined as a patient safety event that reaches a patient and results in death, permanent harm, or severe harm. Per the report, the top five categories of adverse events include:

  • Falls—42%
  • Delay in Treatment—6%
  • Foreign Object Retention—6%
  • Undergoing the Incorrect Surgery—6%
  • Suicide—5%

The report cited failures in communications, failures in teamwork, and failures  in consistently following policies as the most common causes of these adverse  events. While accidents do and will happen, it is the responsibility of all  healthcare leaders to create a safe and reliable environment for staff to  work and practice medicine. The EMR alone is not the answer.

Technology that is fully integrated to support the day-to-day responsibilities of a nurse can enable high reliability by reducing the risk of human error. Using the EMR as the source of truth, integrated tools such as Smart TVs, digital whiteboards, and digital door signs reduce the risk of transcription error. Additionally, these real-time displays act as a central communication tool where care teams, families, and patients can all access the same accurate, reliable information. One such example of using technology to streamline clinical workflow is the digital door sign displayed outside the patient room.

Vibe Health Aware is a fully customized and configured digital door sign that integrates with the EMR to display real-time health information outside the patient room. Clinicians only document once in the EMR, using iconography that is consistent and reliable for care teams. All staff and visitors entering the patient room are aware of precautions, notifications, and critical health information at all times, including but not limited to the following:

  • Allergies
  • Contact precautions
  • Dietary orders
  • Fall risk
  • Suicide ideations
  • Patient restrictions
  • Care team members
  • Potentially violent patient
  • Requirements such as glasses, hearing assistive devices, and/or dentures

Staying Focused on Clinical Efficiency  

It’s unlikely that the pace of healthcare innovation will slow down anytime soon. While innovation is often centered on pushing beyond the status quo, the focus must shift to productivity to achieve benefits for nurses and clinical teams. Today’s hospitals have made significant investments in their EMRs to centralize data and digitize processes. With the unyielding financial pressures, now is the time to leverage these investments to create an optimal experience for nurses, clinicians, and all employees. Saving nurses time, eliminating redundancies, and reducing manual tasks will ensure better health outcomes for all, positioning hospitals for success in the years ahead.

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