5 Ideas to Close the Loop Between Patient Care & Nurse Accountability

Posted by Brenda Aubin on January 26, 2016
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improving patient care and nurse accountability

Your nursing staff forms the frontline in patient care and satisfaction. Ask any patient in a hospital, they'll tell you that the level of personal care they receive from the nursing staff makes the difference between a great experience and a terrible one.

When it comes to patient outcomes, it's the nurse who runs front and center in responding to the patient's daily needs and treatment plan. For hospital management, the success of your nursing staff represents the health of the organization's financial stability and professional reputation.

It's imperative to not only make sure your healthcare team is accountable, but that they're well taken care of in terms of employment satisfaction and appreciation. This allows caregivers to devote more of their energy to what matters most: Your patients and their improved outcomes.

If you have the goal to aid your healthcare team, in both their accountability and in the care they provide to patients, you may want to consider leveraging the following 5 ideas.

1. Improve Communication

One key way your hospital can help the healthcare team better care for their patients is by improving the technology allowing them to do their job. In a 2015 study of over 1,500 respondents conducted by the Beryl Institute, it was found that improving communication is a major priority for hospitals in improving the patient experience.

One essential tool for communication is advanced nurse call technology. However, older legacy nurse call systems limit what information is sent from the patient's room to the healthcare team. Frequently there’s a lag time in a caregiver’s response to the patient’s need due to the information being sent to the inappropriate staff type. A lag time in a caregiver’s response also occurs because there isn’t a streamlined or efficient mechanism to notify a caregiver of the patient’s need or request.

New systems allow for more information, so that the healthcare team is informed of the level of alarms, alerts and reminders and can prioritize calls. This system also interfaces with the collection of hospital data, meaning that the information can be used to identify both procedure/process successes and areas needing improvement. Thus, allowing the hospital to celebrate the successes along with the ability to work on specific problem areas. For the healthcare team, it alleviates the stress of answering every call with the same response rate and assists them with prioritizing their patient’s needs. New systems can also improve a caregiver’s time management and organizational skills.

However, as reported by Health IT News, a publication of HIMSS Media, approximately 30.34% of hospitals have yet to implement an advanced nurse communication system. This indicates that there is a gap between technological advancement and technological adoption for improving patient care and nurse accountability.

2. Purposeful Patient Rounding Protocol

While many caregivers have been doing the job for a long time and may be less than thrilled to get a "script" on how to perform rounds, it's important that a standard rounding protocol is used by the healthcare team. Inconsistent or non-purposeful hourly rounding will reduce the impact and lose some of the successful outcomes a hospital can achieve.

Whether your hospital has an exact script or just a set of information to hit, the healthcare team should have a roadmap they follow on rounds. Leveraging data in patient care and nursing staff protocol will lead to purposeful rounding, which has a number of benefits, including decreased risk of pressure ulcers, falls and call lights.

3. Collaboration

Work environment starts from the top down. It's important that nurse managers and hospital administration set the tone with a collaborative work relationship that allows the healthcare team to feel and be appreciated for their contribution. For example, at Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute, they implemented the Taussig Responsiveness Project. The objective was to deliver meaningful results in call light responsiveness and what they found was that empowering Health Unit Coordinators to oversee call light responses, act as support to nursing staff, delegate calls improved the response time and dramatically improved patient satisfaction.

If you’re looking to improve the collaboration among the healthcare team, leveraging technology can be of great benefit—particularly next generation nurse call systems. Communicating all patient needs in a central location, such as on large hallway monitors, as well as on mobile devices, will assist your staff in responding to a patient’s need in a timely manner. Additionally, if the assigned caregiver cannot respond to a call in a timely manner, these alerts, alarms and reminders can be auto escalated to another team member.

4. Work-Life Balance

Nursing is an extremely demanding profession. Staff members perform better when they are supported, both professionally and personally. In a study by the NHS, 3 in every 20 patients indicated that they do not get enough emotional support while in hospitals, Nursing in itself is a physically straining profession, but it's also exceptionally emotionally draining, which makes it more difficult for nurses to remain compassionate all of the time and the stress can lead to nursing fatigue.

It's important for your organization to implement strategies to not only take care of the well being of patients, but to take care of the well being of nursing staff. It’s imperative to reward and recognize those caregivers consistently performing purposeful rounding, exhibit job accountability and team work along with the use of best practice in their daily routines. Data available from next generation nurse call systems can assist clinical leadership with identifying these high performing caregivers.

5. Closing the Information Loop

Your nursing staff often has more patient information filtered through them than any other staff member. It's important to make sure this information doesn't fall through the cracks on any given shift. Develop a protocol and use technological tools to track patient care requests. If these data points are recorded and accessible, they can then be leveraged in managing and organizing workflows, balancing workloads, and improving patient care. The next generation nurse call can close the loop on patient care/needs by ensuring the caregiver(s) is notified of the patient’s specific need in a timely manner.

Your nursing staff is a key component in not only patient satisfaction but in positive outcomes. Taking steps to ensure both staff satisfaction and accountability will improve every facet of hospital management.

If you want to know the cost of outdated technology to your hospital, staff and patient care, talk to one of our clinical specialists today.


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