Situational awareness isn’t a term frequently defined or discussed by circles of clinicians or healthcare professionals. In fact, it’s more commonly used in high-reliability industries such as aviation, military operations and engineering. But as medical professionals begin to understand the important link between situational awareness—i.e. having an accurate understanding of what’s happening with the patient and what’s likely to happen in the future—and clinical decision-making, the phrase is gaining more traction in the healthcare industry.
The keys to situational awareness are teamwork and communication, according to authors Gary L. Sculli and Douglas E. Paull. In their book, Building a High-Reliability Organization: A Toolkit for Success, they write, “A culture that facilitates communication leads to improved situational awareness, better decision-making and better outcomes for patients.” Backing them up is research from the Joint Commission that indicates poor communication among healthcare professionals is one of the leading causes of medical errors and can affect patient safety.
So, how can your healthcare organization facilitate a culture of communication and improve situational awareness, patient outcomes and the patient experience? Try these three recommendations.
- Keep employees informed and up-to-date. Nurses juggle a lot during their workday, and it’s easy for them to forget a memo sent out at the beginning of their shift. Disseminate information in a variety of ways—through text messages, email newsletters or updates, or phone trees—to ensure nurses and other clinicians know of hospital news or information about their unit at all times.
- Implement new technology to encourage team communication. New channels to communicate and collaborate are necessary for coordinating care. According to recent research from Gartner, “Minimally, care coordination requires robust bidirectional communications among care team members.” 1 With Amplion Alert’s Care Assurance Platform, hospital leaders can improve communication among clinicians and optimize the clinical workflow. Amplion’s advanced messaging functionality enables nurses to provide higher-quality, in-room care. Clinical care dashboards are installed at nurse stations and deliver patient alerts to hallway screens and wireless phones. If a nurse can’t respond to the patient request, it is rerouted to an available caregiver, meaning no patient is left waiting. The result? Nurses don’t feel overwhelmed, and less stress means higher nurse and patient satisfaction.
- Identify opportunities for both praise and improvement. Using Amplion Alert’s integrated reporting portal, clinical leaders can collect data to help determine which clinicians are going above and beyond, as well as caregivers who may benefit from coaching opportunities. Healthcare organizations who use Amplion Alert’s Care Assurance Platform benefit from improved teamwork and experience increased accountability.
According to Gartner, hospitals can “improve care coordination and transitions of care by equipping care teams with mobile clinical communication and collaboration tools that interoperate with other core components of the care team collaboration ecosystem.” 2 Amplion Alert’s Care Assurance Platform offers three levels of support—next-generation nurse call, messaging functionality and alarm management capabilities—all of which work seamlessly together to foster a culture of communication and teamwork.
1 Gartner, “Innovation Insight for Care Team Collaboration,” Barry Runyon, 21 February 2018