Patient safety is always a top priority for healthcare providers. However, while providers take an oath to protect their patients, in reality, it’s often very difficult to keep patients safe at all times. In fact, medical error is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, resulting in over 250,000 deaths each year.
As leaders in compliance safety technology, we believe that sentinel events associated with lack of valid documentation are preventable. So, how can behavioral healthcare providers specifically reverse this negative patient safety trend? The challenge isn’t in creating best practices for safety protocols, but, rather, in implementing them with consistency.
Training and manual processes have some positive effects on improving patient care, but health information technology has emerged as one of the most efficient, cost-effective, and safe alternatives to traditional documentation methods in recent years.
Enhancing Patient Care Through Technology
Although technology comes with its own set of limitations, tech-enabled innovations have proven to be exceptionally more accurate and measurable than what even the best behavioral health administrators and staff can provide in improving safety outcomes.
Tech consistently certifies a reduction in errors, a decrease in miscommunications, and an assurance in provider compliance. Despite the expected growing pains that come with adapting to change, providers are using emerging patient care technology not only to improve patient outcomes, but also to support staff in their daily responsibilities — and safety-related tasks.
Read on to learn more about how providers are using technology to improve compliance and maximize safety standards.
1. Improving Communication to Reduce Risk
Mental health patients and those in other recovery settings see a handful of doctors, nurses, specialists, and other medical staff during their stay. With so many health professionals involved in one patient’s treatment plan, miscommunications are bound to happen. Too often, it’s the breakdown in documentation processes that lead to sentinel events and other significant risk factors related to patient safety.
Medical staff need access to accurate patient records that provide real-time updates on a patient’s stay and day-to-day behaviors. With cloud-based reporting, this level of reporting and transparency is possible, and the data collected can often be used to identify potential opportunities that could lead to patient harm.
As evidenced by ObservSMART, our proximity-based rounding tool utilizes Bluetooth technology to ensure required patient observations and increase staff communication — making it a simple, yet effective, solution for improving safety measures in many different patient care settings.
2. Better Insights on Patient Progress
In addition to improving communication among providers, real-time reporting through technology can lead to better insights on patient progress as well as improved patient outcomes. Advanced patient monitoring tools like ObservSMART provide staff and clinical leadership with a comprehensive view on patient behavior, sleep patterns, vitals, detox levels, and more. This data helps to more accurately assess treatment efficacy every step of the way.
Digital reporting allows for important analytics to be accessed any time as needed, or sent as automated daily email reports without the need for manual documentation or data entry. Plus, through observation tools that connect to your EMR, all patient records are in a single place and easily accessible from one platform.
3. Consistent, Compliant Observation
It’s crucial to consistently monitor patients receiving inpatient mental health and/or addiction treatment. Some may be considered non-compliant, high-risk, more likely to self-harm, more likely to hurt others, or may experience withdrawal symptoms or attempt to elope. In these situations, required observation rounds must be properly executed to ensure the highest standards of safety for patients and staff alike.
Traditionally, these rounds have been documented on paper, which can be easily falsified, or missed all together. Designed to replace outdated methods and their shortcomings, ObservSMART utilizes Bluetooth-enabled, tamper-resistant patient wristbands that sync with providers’ tablets to ensure patients are monitored from the right proximity — and at the right time intervals.
ObservSMART is completely customizable and allows for proactive intervention, with real-time alerts and escalation processes in place for late or missed observations. When important patient observations are properly conducted in appropriate frequencies, staff are able to protect not only that patient, but other patients, staff members, visitors and the organization’s reputation in the hyperlocal community.
Patient Care Technologies
From improving provider communication and reporting compliance, to having a more complete view of the patient’s stay, these three examples of innovation in healthcare technology demonstrate how the implementation of useful tools can help to improve patient safety for vulnerable patient populations, while supporting staff with daily responsibilities of patient care.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your organization improve compliance and safety outcomes.