April 24, 2020
By Meg Nugent
Integrated healthcare is bringing professionals together to share information and provide comprehensive, holistic medical services for improved patient care.
The same concept of integration is happening with healthcare technology, too. Healthcare systems are integrating – just like clinicians – to improve patient care, manage communications, boost staff satisfaction, and enhance workflow.
Much of today’s healthcare technology centers on nurse call systems: technology that lets patients alert staff when they need help, whether it’s through the press of a button or direct patient-staff communication via phone systems.
Nurse call system capabilities span far beyond connecting patients to nursing staff. From phones, patient whiteboards, and RTLS to access control and surveillance, standalone hardware and software can connect and work together with nurse call systems in new ways to gather relevant data and add value to the entire care process.
How Healthcare Technology Integration Benefits Staff
Improved workflow tops the list when it comes to ways technology integration provides value. When systems work together to streamline disparate communication and processes, nurses and doctors have more time to spend with patients. Less time is spent on manual work and data conversion – and more resources can go toward care initiatives.
An example: When patient monitoring devices are integrated with the nurse call system and EHRs, not only are vital signs automatically recorded, but nurses can be notified immediately if an irregularity is detected. Integrated wall-mount touchscreens can activate processes – from rounding to wound care reminders – with the press of a button.
Instead of sitting in front of a computer or going back and forth to the nurses’ station to communicate with staff, track down medical equipment, or talk to patients, clinicians can spend more time on the floor. When handheld phones are integrated with the nurse call system, nurses can communicate directly with a patient at any time, remotely assess alarms, and distinguish urgent vs. low-priority calls – all while making rounds, scheduling treatments, entering data, or administering medication.
Based upon your facility’s procedures and workflows, you can customize tones and lights on a per-department or per-unit basis to create a calmer environment and reduce alarm fatigue.
Healthcare system integration can also give you the data you need to look for patterns to improve care quality, comply with National Patient Safety Goals, or identify areas that need improvement. You’ll have information at your fingertips that covers things like response times, where and how your caregivers are spending their days, noise levels, and factors impacting HCAHPS scores and CMS ratings.
How Healthcare Technology Integration Benefits Patients
The integration of healthcare technology brings just as many benefits to patients as it does to staff.
Patient satisfaction is ultimately related to patient experiences, pain management, and interaction and communication with caregivers. Higher patient satisfaction levels translate to improved HCAHPS scores (and, thus, potentially more reimbursement).
Through technology integration, patients feel more connected, heard, and comfortable. For example, integrating nurse call and handheld phone systems assure patients that they can speak to someone on their care team whenever they need to – without waiting for a response to a call light. This can also reassure family members that loved ones are getting the individualized attention they need.
Technology integration creates quieter environments for patients as well – especially at night – which has been proven to enhance well-being and recovery.
It also improves safety by allowing caregivers to provide guidance to patients: asking them to stay seated until help arrives, telling them they can (or can’t) have a snack, or sending someone to the room to refill a pitcher of water.
Will You Benefit from Healthcare Technology Integration?
When you think about your own care quality, communication, and patient safety goals, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do we need to improve HCAHPS scores?
- Do we want to reduce falls?
- Do we need help gathering and using data to report to federal programs or make changes to improve patient safety and satisfaction?
- Are clinicians and staff wasting time by taking extra steps to address patient needs?
- Do workflows need to be improved?
- Do we need help tracking staff and equipment location?
- Do we want to reduce healthcare costs?
If any of these objectives are on your list, then integrating healthcare technology may help you meet those goals.
CEC is proud to partner with healthcare leaders like Rauland to help you deliver the best possible care and foster positive, productive environments through solutions like Responder intelligent communications and workflow nurse call systems.
Want to learn more about healthcare technology integration? Contact CEC or send me a note. I’m happy to answer your questions!
Meg Nugent, BSN, RN, MHA, is CEC’s healthcare clinical applications specialist. She works side by side with hospitals and other healthcare facilities to lead system implementation and training, and identify and solve customer needs from a clinical perspective