Alarm Management Technologies Help Hospitals Improve Responsiveness

Posted by Brenda Aubin RN BSN on June 8, 2017

With the rising number of patient monitors and medical devices on the healthcare market, hospitals are seeing a growing need foralarm_management.jpg platforms that can acquire, filter and manage alarm and event data from devices in a patient’s room and deliver it to the right care team member at the right time.

This technology holds tremendous promise for alleviating alarm fatigue by reducing the frequency and number of alarms—especially false alarms—that consume the attention of nurses every day and desensitize them to the noise. Not only is alarm management vital for boosting the morale of caregivers and improving allocation of resources among staff, but it is also crucial for providing patients with a better, safer hospital experience, as we explored in our recent post examining the impact of alarm fatigue on critically ill patients and their caregivers. 

Standardizing management of alarms is a top priority for The Joint Commission, which lists clinical alarm safety in hospitals as one of its top goals and encourages facilities to adopt real-time technologies to make alarms more effective and relevant.

Alarm management platforms give clinical departments a unified way to monitor and prioritize alarms and escalate activity by routing notifications from specific rooms to the mobile device of the appropriate nurse or caregiver. The best of these platforms also provide real-time data to help nurses and care teams track what is happening with their patients at the moment and over days and weeks.

How Alarm Management Should Work

Communication in hospitals has become increasingly cluttered with multiple systems and devices that sound alarms and send alerts that may or may not be actionable. Growth in smartphone use in many hospitals has enabled some facilities to bypass unit clerks and send alerts directly to the caregiver. Yet unfiltered alerts can still be disruptive for nurses and other clinicians and lead to dangerous distractions. 

As analysts Gregg Pessin and Barry Runyon explain in Gartner’s recent report, “The Role of Alarms and Notification Platforms in the Real-Time Health System,” alarm and notification platforms should capture, filter and deliver the most pressing patient updates to the care team member who needs those details the most to provide the safest, fastest care. For such a platform to be effective, it should provide these services, according to Gartner’s analysis. 

  • Medical device integration: Low-latency, high-fidelity data capture from medical devices such as pulse oximeters, ventilators, anesthesia machines and patient monitors
  • Alarm management: Ability to reduce the number of alarms nurses and other clinicians must handle based on patient context and best practices
  • Patient and clinical surveillance: A real-time, centralized clinical dashboard to provide surveillance of acute care patients
  • Real-time analytics: Ability to apply clinical algorithms to the acquired patient data to improve safety and outcomes

Along with these must-haves, other important features include interoperability with electronic health record (EHR) platforms, and utilization of smart bed alerts and patient location data, according to the report.

The Value of Real-time Data

For hospitals plagued by alarm fatigue, decreasing the number of alarms that nurses and other clinicians must respond to on a daily basis can be difficult because it often requires changing alarm parameters, which are typically left on default settings determined by the manufacturer. This means clinicians must reach out to the manufacturer to get access to data they need to make the best decisions about parameter changes or adjust alarms to better suit the needs of patients.

An alarm platform with access to real-time data can unlock this information so nurses can diagnose, measure and manage alarm activity by floor, device and room. Not only does this provide clinicians with the visibility to improve efficiency and patient safety and care in the moment, but it also allows them to track trends in event response, identify problematic patterns before they become issues, and make evidence-based decisions to improve alarm response, decrease nurse burnout and raise accountability throughout the hospital.  

How Amplion Meets These Needs

Alarm management is a key feature of Amplion’s care assurance platform. Most alarm and notification platforms on the market today are middleware products that integrate with legacy nurse call systems, but our platform eliminates the need for a separate middleware product by delivering nurse call, care collaboration tools and management capabilities in a single system. 

Amplion Alert routes relevant messages about the location and urgency of alarming devices to the appropriate nurse or caregiver. This targeted messaging helps caregivers quickly pinpoint the origin of alarms and prioritize how quickly they need to respond.

Real-time point-of-care data collected at the patient’s bedside is aggregated and displayed through a reporting portal where nursing leaders can monitor alarm activity and solve issues before they become chronic. Colorful, visualized reports help hospitals analyze and compare alarm volume by device at the enterprise, unit level or by individual patient room. These reports also deliver key data hospitals need to adjust alarm parameters to filter out false alarms before messages are ever sent.

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Need to get a handle on alarm fatique at your hospital, but not sure where to start? Our founder and executive chairman David Condra outlines some strategies for tackling this in a recent Nashville Medical News article, including advice on how to evaluate alarm fatigue at your hospital, assemble the right team to address it, find the right communications technology to solve it and get your clinical teams behind it. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you transform your nurse call system into a cutting-edge tool for combating alarm fatigue and improving efficiency and outcomes. Ready to begin using real-time health data and technologies to improve patient care at your hospital, but not sure where to start? Download our newest Ebook for a blueprint.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

 

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