As regulatory requirements increase in complexity and scope, healthcare providers are responding with strategic investments in technology to improve their performance on measures for human safety, security and privacy.
For example, consider the FDA’s Good Tissue Practice Rule. This governs the methods used in the recovery, donor screening and testing, processing, storage, labeling, packaging, and distribution of HCT/Ps—the cells and tissues intended for implantation, transplantation, infusion or transfer into a human recipient. Many hospital and clinic procedures involve these high-value, often irreplaceable, items—such as bone, heart valves, blood or stem cells—and the storage component is of paramount importance. Environmental conditions need to be continuously monitored to ensure the integrity of the products, and for safety and quality of care.
Out of 19 different technology solutions for monitoring and documenting temperature and humidity readings, one major pharmacy publication recently ranked our RTLS-based Environmental Monitoring solution as the #2 most widely adopted. Based on our experience with those customers, here are some of the best practices we’ve learned:
- Accuracy of data is king: Manual temperature monitoring and documentation is prone to human error. In addition, it’s only a ‘snapshot’ of the conditions. A wise client once said, “even a broken clock is right two times a day.”
- Audible alarms can fail: Built-in refrigerator and freezer alarms can malfunction or go unheard if the unit is located in an area not staffed 24/7 (e.g., a clinic).
- Always purchase quality: Use industrial-grade refrigerators and freezers; never use dorm-style fridges. Also, several customers have noticed that external refrigerator temperature displays can vary from the actual inside temperature.
- Reporting doesn’t have to be time-consuming: Automated system collection and logging also means instant access to regulatory compliance reports. No more searching through and compiling pages and pages of records.
- Don’t forget the irreplaceables: The impact goes far beyond the financial replacement costs of high-value items. Clients constantly remind us about the patient-specific tissues (e.g., post-transplant tissue), that can be paramount to patient outcomes. With automated system alerts, staff members can respond to compromised environmental conditions immediately, eliminating any chance of critical tissue loss. To patients and their families, this reassurance is priceless.
What unique approaches and technologies has your organization put into place to protect and preserve irreplaceable materials and high-value assets? Let us know about your innovations and success practices at firstname.lastname@example.org or Katrina.email@example.com
For many years, senior living facilities have used technology to support caregivers in assessing and managing resident care. The technologies have helped address challenges such as fall management, vital sign monitoring, emergency call, and more. Fortunately, we already have come a long way from an era in which at-risk residents were often physically restrained to prevent falls and continually tethered to monitors with wired sensors. But many of the capabilities in place are still reactive. So while technology has enabled great strides in resident care, more can be done to leverage the newest capabilities.
In addition to improving the resident experience and safety, new monitoring technologies can also reduce spending and streamline patient care while reducing the risk of falls, pressure ulcers, and healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). According to a study by Kalorama Information, the U.S. market for advanced patient monitoring systems grew from $3.9 billion in 2007 to $8.9 billion in 2011 and is forecast to reach $20.9 billion by 2016.
With a rapid growth in facility wireless infrastructure, the use of advanced monitoring systems, and integration into electronic medical records (EMRs), patient-centered care is now at the forefront. Facilities are empowered to expand their capabilities with existing staff, and ensure continual visibility into a resident’s location, need for a position change, sleep quality, vital sign trends, and much more.
Gone are the days when the only option is an alarm announcing that a potentially dangerous event or decline in resident health has already occurred. Proactive technologies can now enable resident fall prevention, improve turn management compliance to reduce the development of pressure ulcers, create quieter environments with fewer audible alarms, and bring comfort to residents and their families. And not only do these new capabilities greatly enhance the resident experience; they can help maintain or increase resident census, reduce costs associated with non-reimbursable injuries, improve a facility’s ability to attract new residents.
Is your facility struggling to meet these challenges? If so, consider investigating the use of new technologies. First, conduct an internal prioritization to determine the most pressing issues and research a few options for consideration. Next, assess your IT infrastructure to determine whether it can support Wi-Fi-enabled devices or if an upgrade may be needed and whether a cloud- or server-based solution would be more feasible. And, create a true partnership with your vendor, to ensure the upfront costs, staff training, workflow changes, and other potential impacts are not burdensome. Then, you will have taken the first crucial steps in leveraging technology to care for the residents, so they will continue to proudly call your facility their home
Joint Commission audits come around with the regularity of winter – and are usually about as welcome. But just as with frosty weather, being prepared can turn a Joint Commission audit from something to be endured into something to celebrate.
We talk regularly with clients about their experiences with audits of their infant protection measures. It’s important to emphasize that auditors have latitude in how they approach an audit, and we continue to hear of new approaches and angles all the time. That said, there are several essential preparation steps that our clients tell us contribute to a smooth auditing process:
- Have policies & procedures ready: The Joint Commission requires that the hospital “identifies and implements security procedures that address handling of an infant or pediatric abduction.” Your procedures should document how you protect your patients from abduction, and you should be ready to demonstrate how you “implement” them. Abduction drills, while not a requirement, do provide a document trail showing that you are regularly evaluating your readiness for an abduction.
- Show that you have considered all relevant patient populations: Even if you are not using electronic infant protection in the NICU, say, or Pediatrics, you will still be required to explain how you are protecting those patient groups. It is reasonable to ask why a newborn is protected in the OB, but a baby admitted to Pediatrics for jaundice is not. Keep in mind that the auditor may have just come from a facility that is banding infants in the NICU and Pediatrics.
- Show that your staff is trained: Competency assessment is a common part of Joint Commission audits. You will need to demonstrate that nurses and other staff members have received training in the infant protection technology and security procedures, and have successfully demonstrated their ability to use the system properly. (The online training from STANLEY Healthcare University is an excellent way to document this.)
- Have your report log ready: Auditors understand that an infant protection system is only a tool. They will be looking for evidence that you are using it correctly. Running regular reports (monthly is typical) is one way that you can show that you are proactively managing the system. You should be ready to explain what you’re looking for in the reports, and what corrective actions you took for anything outside of your benchmarks.
- Show that your software is current: Or at least a supported version! This is related to the previous point. If you are using a version of software that is dated or out of support, that could be a vulnerability. At very least, you should know what features are in newer version, and be prepared to explain why you do not think they are required for the safety of your patients.
The importance of supply chain inventory control is well documented. According to Gartner Research, healthcare organizations can reduce the 40-45% operating costs attributed to supply chain by as much as 5-15% if they better analyze, plan and control the purchase and use of goods and services. In today’s competitive healthcare environment, reducing cost while still providing quality care is an ongoing challenge.
The frequent conflicts that arise between Materials Management and Clinicians when trying to understand which items are “needed” as compared to inventory on hand and usage levels is difficult without visibility to current and historical inventory data. In speaking with customers at the recent AHRMM conference in Orlando, FL, it was eye-opening to see how many are still self-managing inventory in their departments with excel spreadsheets and are frustrated with continued stock shortages, expired items and storage space challenges. There is also frustration with the effort required to get a new supply into a facility when it is needed.
An automated inventory management solution that reduces costs, optimizes inventory and improves patient care is key in creating a balance between cost and quality. It should provide visibility to on-hand inventory, which is critical in understanding supply spending. It should separate consigned and owned inventory and provide notification of when supplies are going to expire. Most importantly it should provide a current and historical view of supply purchasing and supply utilization trends. When this reliable information is available in real-time via a user-friendly application, clinicians and materials managers have visibility to make quality decisions and execute superior control over supply costs while ensuring that the right supplies are available to deliver quality care.
The right inventory management solution can reduce stock shortages, eliminate expired items and ensure adequate storage space for supplies. It should deliver measurable results such as:
- 5%-15% Reduction of on-hand inventory
- 10%-30% Reduction of labor cost to track inventory
- 50%-100% Reduction in expired item costs
- 1%-5% Reduction in lost charges
- 1%-3% Increase in vendor discounts
- 35% increase in existing space utilization
Controlling costs doesn’t mean eliminating choice and quality because decisions are made based on real-time purchasing and utilization data. An effective inventory management solution can be the equalizer that helps facilities make the right choices to reduce cost while providing quality care to deliver better outcomes for their patients.
It’s an exciting time in the world of infant protection: we’re entering a period of innovation and rapid change that often comes with disruptive technology—in this case, the new generation of infant protection that leverages the Wi-Fi network to extend protection hospital-wide. As we work with more and more hospitals on solution design and workflow planning for our Hugs solution, it’s become clear that Wi-Fi is a game changer on a number of levels.
Up to now, infant protection systems have been departmental solutions, restricted to the OB unit and perhaps Pediatrics. But Hugs Wi-Fi is an enterprise solution that is designed to give visibility on the status and location of infants anywhere in the hospital. This has major implications for both clinical and security workflow. The changes are all positive, but they do require a rethink of many aspects of the body of best practice that grew up around departmental level systems.
Take for example response to an abduction attempt. In the past, if an abductor managed to pass through an exit from the OB unit – say if an accomplice held the door open – there was no way to continue to track the infant’s location. For that reason, most hospitals would call a “Code Pink” and attempt to secure every exit from the facility. Now, the infant’s location continues to be updated in real-time and the security response can be directed to the abductor’s current location, saving time and sources.
This expanded protection is already enabling hospitals to streamline their workflows around transport of infants outside of the unit. One customer who has migrated to Hugs Wi-Fi from the previous generation of Hugs used to require a security officer to accompany the nurse on every transport. This was both a drain on security resources and also interfered with clinical workflow – the nurse often had to wait for the security officer to arrive. The hospital has determined that this is no longer necessary, because infants remain fully monitored at all times.
Hospital-wide protection has a positive impact on clinical workflow in other ways. The transport function used to be essentially a manual procedure, with nursing staff needing to sign infants out and in. Now, the solution can make intelligent decisions about the status of the infant without requiring staff intervention, automatically ending a transport when the infant reaches the designated destination. We’re also seeing hospitals streamlining workflows through integrations to other hospital systems: for example pulling patient data from the ADT system to automatically admit mothers into the system.
These are just some of the workflow improvements that are emerging from our discussions with clients, and we’ve begun a project to capture these best practices to share with the industry. If you are planning an infant protection implementation, we’d like to hear from you!
Clinical inventory management in procedural areas is a complex and time-consuming responsibility. It always amazes me—and our customers—the large gap in perceived inventory value to actual inventory value. We’re talking a difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars! Recently, I was talking to a customer who thought they had $1.8MM across four departments. After the initial audit, with all inventory data accurately reflected in the system, it was actually over $3MM (owned and consigned). How is a hospital supposed to manage and identify areas of improvement if inventory information is so skewed? It’s like digging in sand.
That’s why it’s rewarding to offer an automated inventory management solution, SpaceTRAX®, to our customers: allowing them to reduce cost, optimize inventory and improve patient care. Our web-based solution provides important information about on-hand inventory which is critical to understand supply spending. What is consignment inventory compared to owned? When are supplies going to expire? What are the purchasing trends? All of this reliable, real-time information is available on a single dashboard, providing visibility to make quality decisions and superior control over supply costs. We’ve seen clients with the following savings:
- 5%-15% Reduction of on-hand inventory
- 10%-30% Reduction of labor cost to track inventory
- 50%-100% Reduction in expired item costs
- 1%-5% Reduction in lost charges
- 1%-3% Increase in vendor discounts
And to take it a step further: with the integration of SpaceTRAX and other hospital systems, healthcare facilities can go beyond the management of inventory. By linking physicians, patients, and procedures with every product, hospitals can increase charge capture and improve outcomes—all through one system. For example, this data can be used to work with physicians on procedure standardization. Surgical Services managers are empowered to make informed decisions to modify procedure process and product usage to stabilize cost—all while still providing optimal care. Our clinical inventory management solution provides analytics that directly impacts budget, performance and outcomes. Now, that’s change you can measure!
We’re so excited to announce the brand new STANLEY Healthcare site is officially up and running, incorporating several significant additions and enhancements:
- Dedicated sections for hospitals and health systems, senior living communities, architects and planners and partners
- Dedicated section on customer success stories
- Mega drop-down menu to accommodate a wide variety of content and improve navigation.
- In-depth technology section that explains all our different technology offerings – from tags, badges and monitors to infrastructure and our MobileView platform.
- Consolidated resource library containing videos, datasheets, application notes, solution overviews, recorded webcasts, case studies and white papers.
- Responsive design that minimizes resizing, panning and scrolling across a wide range of devices – from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors.
- A consolidated Professional Services section which now includes a training section and class schedule.
- Customer Support section with a streamlined Self Service portal and easier navigation to online systems.
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At STANLEY Healthcare, we are fortunate to participate in a variety of industry events—they may be large or small, but all are impressive gatherings for the best and brightest in healthcare. On June 21-25, we’ll be in Nashville, TN for the 2014 Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurses (WOCN) Society™ Conference, which addresses how to promote safe and effective prevention and management of wound, ostomy and continence disorders.
For us, the event represents a chance to share one of our newest solutions, Patient Safety Monitoring, a game-changing technology which targets the need to reduce the occurrence of pressure ulcers.
The Mayo Clinic defines pressure ulcers as “injuries to skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin [which are] most often develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as the heels, ankles, hips and tailbone.”
As wound specialists know all too well, prolonged pressure occurs when patients or residents have areas of their body pressed against a bed, chair or wheelchair for too long without appropriate repositioning. A routine turning protocol of every 2 hours is common, but this can be difficult to both enforce and document. And what about other health issues, such as individuals who are at risk of falling and those who sleep poorly?
Patient Safety Monitoring is already making a difference. We invite you to download a free case study from the STANLEY Healthcare website to learn how The Terraces of Los Gatos (CA) has substantially reduced the frequency of both resident falls from beds and the appearance of new pressure ulcers using this technology.
For more information, visit the STANLEY Healthcare website. We hope to see you in Nashville!
The Patient Flow Summit is on this week in Las Vegas, bringing together providers and vendors with an interest in improving efficiency in clinics, the ED and OR.
The stakes are certainly high. On one estimate, by Arnold Milstein and Stephen Shortell, optimizing patient flow could reduce total US healthcare spending by 4% to 5% – that’s $100B annually. It’s closing that kind of gap that motivates those attending the summit, and it will be interesting to see what comes out of the networking and brainstorming this week.
I’m convinced that RTLS is part of the mix of techniques and technologies that will help drive an efficiency revolution in healthcare. RTLS location data provides an extra dimension that extends the functionality of key hospitals systems, whether that’s the EHR, nurse call system, CMMS or in this case capacity management.
In fact, at this week’s summit there’s a very neat integration between our AreoScout RTLS solution for clinic and patient flow and Central Logic’s patient flow software. Knowing where a staff member, patient or piece of equipment is at any time has obvious benefits in managing a clinic or department.
It really is an exciting time in healthcare, in spite of all the uncertainty; or maybe because of it. If our growing network of alliances with vendors and providers is anything to go by, the pace of innovation is accelerating to meet healthcare challenges head on.
With several family and friends in the nursing profession, it’s obvious to me that they have a special combination of character traits that lend to providing compassionate care, while dealing with unique personalities and circumstances that make the rest of the world squirm. Inevitably, they are the first to respond calmly to a burn or fall accident at a family BBQ. To the ones I love: Happy National Nurses Week.
Recently, I had a personal experience with taking my daughter to the Emergency Department (ED) for the first time. She was diagnosed with a partial dislocation of the elbow joint, commonly called a Nursemaid’s elbow. It’s an injury that causes extreme, constant pain. As first time parents, we felt helpless, scared and extremely worried –our only goal was to find immediate care to take away the pain.
Once we were triaged at the ED, I looked around at the 30 people sitting in the waiting room, all I could think about was, “how long will we wait?”. With a screaming two year old, twenty minutes felt like an eternity. When they called our name, there was a wave of relief but I knew the journey wasn’t close to being over. Every step of the process, we were met and taken care of by nursing staff that worked quickly, spoke calmly and smiled softly to a very, very scared little girl (and parents!). I can’t tell you how grateful we were for that special combination of traits– the bedside manner of the nurses I’ve known never ceases to amaze me. I may not remember your name, but I remember how you made us feel.
Once the crying stopped, I had an “a-ha!” moment. On a daily basis, I work closely with the STANLEY Healthcare Clinical Operations and Workflow solutions, focusing on Patient Flow and Staff Workflow. I talk about “reduced wait times”, “improved patient satisfaction”, “enhanced staff communication” and “improved staff efficiency.” On that random sunny afternoon last month, never before were those words more real to me.
To all the dedicated healthcare professionals in the nursing field that help when we need it the most: Thank you very much! It makes me proud to be working on solutions that help and support a better working environment for you, so you can focus on what really matters, the patient. Happy National Nurses Week!