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A recently released report from an expert panel convened by the National Patient Safety Foundation suggests there is still much work to be done to make hospitals safer for patients. It’s true. Despite advancements over the past 15 years, incidence rates for blood clots, decubiti, falls and other avoidable infections and complications are still too common.

This reality is a growing problem for those who aspire to deliver the highest quality patient care experience possible. It creates challenges in patient satisfaction and care outcomes. Increasingly, it also directly hits the bottom line.

As an example, Medicare lowered its 2016 payments for almost 800 hospitals across the country because of higher rates of patient safety incidents. In total, these fines added up to more than $364 million out of hospital budgets. That’s a big number, but for some, it’s not enough. That’s why it is critical for hospitals to explore ways to improve patient safety.

While many hospitals are struggling with patient safety concerns, some are making strides to get it right. Examples like Androscoggin Valley Hospital (AVH) in New Hampshire show the potential for reducing the danger that patients face when seeking care. The AVH team was able to reduce falls in their hospital by 65% while celebrating a five-year stretch with no serious injuries from falls. During that time, the hospital also saw HCAHPS score soar in several targeted areas.

So, what’s Androscoggin Valley’s secret? Here are three key ingredients to get you started:

1. Make it a priority

The top recommendation from the National Patient Safety Foundation report was to “establish, and keep alive, a culture of safety”. This means commitment from the top. The first order of business might be to make sure leaders in your organization fully understand there is a return on investment tied to improving safety. Make sure there are clear goals, consistent follow up and routine monitoring happening. Make sure that all staff understand, and are incented and motivated, to help you meet your objectives.

2. Be proactive

AVH leaders knew they had to improve their rounding efforts if they wanted to enhance their safety results. Leveraging in-room technology to trigger early alert notifications and to automate rounding schedules, reminders and escalation protocols for alarms, the clinical team was able to institute a best practice of purposeful rounding. In doing so they began intercepting potential issues before they turned into real problems.

3. Confirm care delivery

AVH applied data analytics to support staffing and operational decisions based on alert notifications and alarm patterns and clinical performance. They also created coaching opportunities for staff by providing leaders and their teams with key performance metrics related to patient care and rounding. Their technology enabled them to confirm that care tasks were being executed in a timely manner and escalate as necessary so that no patient need went unmet.  

At Amplion, we’ve worked with many hospital leaders to advise them on goals related to fall prevention, alarm fatigue, enhanced HCAHPS scores and more effective patient rounding. If you are wrestling with safety concerns, we’d love to help.

Contact us today by clicking here to schedule a discussion with one of our technical specialists.

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