Health Care Intranets: Improve Patient Safety and Quality
ElevatePoint has a series on how intranets can help health care organizations. As a reminder, Modern Healthcare, listed the top issues health care organizations face as the following:
- Financial challenges, such as reducing waste
- Governmental mandates
- Patient safety and quality
- Personnel shortages
In this blog post, we’ll address an important health topic: patient safety and quality … as well as staff safety.
When it comes down to it, health care organizations are in business to save lives, including preventing harm while caring for patients. Many of these accidents are preventable, too. Here are some of the top identified issues when it comes to patient safety from Healthcare Business Tech:
- Diagnoses. Is the patient diagnose correctly?
- Medication safety. Is the patient being prescribed the correct medicine? Is it absolutely necessary to treating the patient? In cases where opiates are used, many hospitals are spending more effort to combat over-prescribing those drugs.
- Super bugs and issues from medical procedures. Hospitals are breeding grounds for disease. Not only can superbugs spread quickly, but patients can develop MRSA and sepsis after being treated.
- Cybersecurity. Patient safety also includes protection of their vital information — name, social security number, and more.
- Unnecessarily admissions to emergency departments. When patients enter the emergency department unnecessarily, not only are they being exposed to potential diseases, they’re taking resources away from those who are truly ill.
Quality is a finer point. Quality means not only are patients being treated, but they’re being treated well. Many health organizations are introducing patient advocacy and experience initiatives to improve patient care.
Health organizations are also including new ways to integrate medical care with ways to pass information easily and quickly to departments. “Non-traditional” methods of care such as massage, exercise, and acupuncture are being prescribed as ways to manage pain and stay healthy. In fact many larger hospitals even offer classes themselves for free or reduced costs to improve the health of their community. Not only does it improve the health of everyone in the community, it addresses health equity.
Smart health organizations are also considering how to make care convenient at a lower cost. House calls are making a comeback, keeping people at home when possible to manage their health better. In addition, telehealth or virtual health is being used more to connect people online to doctors. Rural communities and those health care patients who are less mobile are even better served.
What’s not covered in patient safety is something that’s equally important — staff safety. Accidental needle pokes, fluid exposure, falls, and more happen at hospitals. Keeping staff safe from preventable issues help them, of course, but also improves your treatment of patients.
Intranets help with staff and patient safety as well as quality of care
ElevatePoint may seem like a broken record, but there are things that intranets help with nearly every health care issues.
Intranets are secure and can add additional levels of security to information. Using Active Directory, you can understand who people are and what they should have access to.
Repeatable processes, procedures, and policies
By enabling staff to easily find information such as policies, procedures, and processes when they’re needed, you’re helping ensure staff follow them. Medical procedures, disease protocols, dosage information, health information management policies, gown-donning processes, hand-washing techniques, and policies for admitting emergency patients will be available. This repository helps physicians and nurses do the right thing, make the right diagnosis, treat patients accurately, and more all while being safe.
If you have a large health system, every clinic or facility can understand established organizational procedures for consistency. That way, your entire system is doing things the same way every time.
It also enables you to add quality information, how you want to treat employees, including ways of recovering from bad patient experiences or how to make visitors feel more welcome even as loved ones are undergoing medical care.
It may seem scary, but by adding metrics on your intranet, where everyone can see, helps your entire organization understand expectations and whether it meets those expectations. Seeing patient incidents, staff issues, and more not only makes your health care organization more compliant, you can see patterns and make changes. It may even encourage healthy competition among your system on who has the best patient safety record or which hospital has had the fewest falls.
Issues and incidents
By making it easier to report issues on your intranet, you can continue to improve your established procedures so that you prevent such issues in the future. Also, leaders can see patterns and evaluate changes needed to continually improve the hospital, clinic, or health facility.
Staff should also have access to report when equipment breaks, spills happen (to prevent falls), and other challenges immediately.
For staff, they can report incidents faster too so that they get the needed care quickly, especially when time is of the essence. They can also file necessary documentation for potential worker’s compensation.
These days many health organizations have online prescriptions, making controlling and providing drugs easier. By adding prescriptions to your intranet, you can keep track of those pharmaceuticals that require more scrutiny and reporting, such as opiates.
Ideas and collaboration
Outside of state and federally mandated safety, there are ideas that just help your hospital be more effective and efficient. Let your staff bring up those ideas and vote on them on your intranet. Take those best ideas forward, even letting your staff do so. Online ideation, such as the one ElevatePoint provides, makes that easier. In addition, allow staff to collaborate and share information. By asking questions, answering questions, and more you’re hearing directly from your employees on what should happen. Collaboration and sharing even engages your staff. Speaking of engagement ….
Staff engagement and recognition
Nurse engagement is directly tied to patient care and mortality rates. The higher the engagement, the lower the mortality rates. Higher engagement also relates to better patient care. Some intranets, such as ours, enable you to recognize staff, including nurses and physicians.
There are a variety of other ways to engage staff, on your intranet, including adding recognition events in a central calendar, including brand stories on your home page that spotlights staff, training employees, and more.
Accreditation and continuing medical education
Not only can you post training schedules, you can add computer-based learning online. Accreditation information should be online and easy to follow, too. That way your staff is giving the best care with the latest techniques while protecting your health organization.
People and communications
Staff should know on-call schedules as well as be able to page and text quickly. Add that pager or text information to department pages as well as individual employees. That way, staff can search and more to find the right person and call or page them fast.
Approved mobile devices
Most staff these days are carrying tablets for your electronic health record (EHR) system. Use those same approved devices to access your intranet. That way, staff can get important alerts and information stat. You can even link from your EHR into your intranet and vice versa. That provides quick ways of handling complicated issues.
Prices, services, and billing
Many states are introducing or have already introduced a patient’s bill of rights, where pricing information has to accompany even necessary procedures. By putting prices and billing information on your intranet, employees can see and reveal that information speedily while making it easier for patients to understand the financial repercussions.
Also by using an intranet, staff can understand other services available, including how the may help patients. This integrated approach provides better patient care and improved outcomes.
As one quality expert relayed, intranets help organizations achieve excellence. For manufacturing, that means a company can be certified according to ISO standards. But for health care organizations, it literally means life or death. It can also include whether your hospital or facilities receives a good accreditation … or a bad one.
Intranets may seem like a hefty expense, but it’s just one spoke in your communications wheel and an important one. Your intranet is more than a repository — it’s a two-way communication vehicle and a place to share ideas and collaborate. But let’s not knock repositories. Repeatable processes, access to page or text staff, and more are all important to the daily inner workings of your health care organization. It gets your health care staff the information they need when they need it for better safety for patients and themselves.
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