A term usually found in aviation, military operations and nuclear engineering industries are now making a significant impact in healthcare. “Situational awareness” — maintaining an understanding of what’s going on around you at every moment and using that information to mitigate risk — is helping more and more healthcare providers and hospitals improve patient outcomes.
A new white paper just launched by Amplion Clinical Communications, a company focused on transforming the legacy nurse call to help hospitals improve patient care, patient safety and patient/staff satisfaction, documents the concept and its emerging power in the industry. The concept of situational awareness is gaining traction in the healthcare industry, as clinicians and industry leaders begin to understand the important link between awareness—i.e. understanding what’s happening with a patient and what’s likely to happen in the future—and clinical decision-making
“Clinical leaders today are inundated with data that could potentially improve patient care, but outdated technologies and the lack of interoperability between healthcare IT systems have made it difficult to actually use this information to communicate and make decisions in coordinating and delivering care,” said Frank Grant, president, and CEO of Amplion. “Fortunately, a new set of technologies in the Real-Time Healthcare System (RTHS) is now helping hospitals and healthcare systems analyze and use this data to become more situationally aware with their patients. Both technology and this new concept have aided caregivers in heightening the care they provide to improve outcomes.”
The Real-Time Health System is a healthcare model first delineated by information technology research and advisory company Gartner, based in Stamford, Conn. “The RTHS is emerging as a connected digital platform to transform every component of care delivery, administration and analytics by putting in the hands of people and machines real-time situational awareness at operational, tactical and strategic levels,” Barry Runyon and Gregg Pessin, Gartner, wrote in a July 25, 2018 report titled, “Hype Cycle for Real-Time Health System Technologies, 2018.” The application of situational awareness in healthcare entails harnessing this technology to better understand current and past patient care data to improve care.
Amplion provides the technology and data, combing advanced nurse call capabilities, care collaboration tools, alarm management, reporting, and data analytics in its Amplion Alert system to track, manage and confirm care delivery for every patient. In the hands of situationally aware caregivers, these point-of-care analytics help organizations make data-driven decisions and create accountability within clinical teams.
Situational Awareness Example: “Miracle on the Hudson”
Probably one of the best examples of situational awareness is the “Miracle on the Hudson,” when airline captain Chesley Sullenberger was forced to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River in New York City as US Airways Flight 1549 was struck by a flock of geese causing the plane to lose all power, Grant explained. Captain Sullenberger had only 208 seconds to process the circumstances, decide what action to take and execute his solution. His awareness of the situation and the data at hand, as well as his ability to react quickly, was the difference between a successful flight and a failed one.
Every one of the 155 people aboard the commercial plane walked away from a landing that had never before been achieved in a river. While clinicians aren’t usually faced with such split-second decisions, they do many times deal with life-and-death situations and emergency events that require quick, on-their-feet thinking and a keen sense of awareness.
3 Levels of Situational Awareness in Healthcare
According to Engineer Mica Endsley, Ph.D., a former chief scientist for the U.S. Air Force, there are three levels to situational awareness:
Level 1: Perception
Perception of the elements in the environment: You perceive information by examining patients, reading medical charts, conversing with team members or reviewing data.
Level 2: Comprehension
Comprehension of the current situation: You take the details you perceive and analyze that information, work to understand it and use it to form your decisions.
Level 3: Projection
Projection of future status: You’re now able to project events that may occur based on the information you perceived and analyzed and the decisions you’ve made.
Experts have predicted a new care team collaboration ecosystem involving the RTHS, characterized by a convergence of point-of-care solutions such as clinical communication tools, nurse call, and alarms and notifications platforms, is on the horizon. And situational awareness is a critical component of such a system.
4 Benefits of Leveraging Real-Time Situational Awareness in Healthcare
In today’s value-based care environment, clinicians are constantly faced with situations that require quick on-the-spot thinking and response. Applying situational awareness through the implementation of point-of-care solutions makes it easier for nurses and bedside caregivers to be proactive rather than reactive in care delivery.
The white paper outlines the following four key benefits of key benefits of leveraging real-time situational awareness in healthcare:
1. Better patient outcomes
2. Improved patient satisfaction
3. Fewer patient safety errors
4. Increased nurse retention.
“Clinicians are constantly faced with situations that require on-the-spot thinking and response,” Grant said. “Achieving situational awareness takes practice. But by utilizing point-of-care technologies such as those Amplion provides hospitals, it’s easier than ever for nurses and bedside caregivers to achieve situational awareness and be proactive—rather than reactive—when caring for patients. The result is better patient outcomes, including fewer patient safety errors, better patient satisfaction, as well as increased nurse retention and satisfaction … goals that every caregiver and hospital today strive for.”