This year and the coronavirus pandemic brought new challenges to hospitals and healthcare facilities across the globe. And while the first phase of vaccine distribution has put a light at the end of the tunnel, many regions are still handling surging cases as a result of the holiday season.
As we navigate combatting the latest surge and distributing the first rounds of the vaccine, hospital and healthcare system leaders should use lessons learned from this year to ensure the doctors, nurses, administrative staff, and others who work in their facilities are informed, feel protected, and understand the steps being taken to promote safety within their workplace.
Looking beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, conversations about workplace safety in hospitals aren’t going anywhere. Workplace violence is four times more likely to occur in a healthcare setting than in other industries, and 96% of male nurses and 85% of female nurses have been physically threatened by their own patients. With this in mind, hospitals and healthcare facilities can leverage technology to ensure the doctors, nurses, and other staff who provide lifesaving care have a safe and sustainable work environment whether faced with day-to-day issues like workplace violence or global disruptions impacting virtually every hospital like the pandemic.
Sharing critical updates with emergency notifications
Communication tools like emergency notification systems are critical to keeping the hospital community informed. Whether staff is in the emergency room, a parking lot, or a patient’s home, they can be in the loop on the latest updates and guidance with multimodal alerts.
These alerts—which can be sent via phone call, push notification, text message, desktop alerts, and email, to name a few—ensure hospital staff is informed of unfolding events in real-time. In our current situation, it is critical that staff is kept up to date on local COVID-19 guidance and logistics details of vaccine distribution plans. In addition, emergency notifications are also a valuable tool during severe weather, a flu outbreak, or a violent incident—adverse events that will, unfortunately, remain long after our current pandemic challenges have ceased.
Turning to incident collaboration tools to streamline efforts
Hospitals are often made up of multiple buildings on large campuses, and large healthcare networks can consist of dozens of facilities across different jurisdictions. Given these complexities, incident collaboration tools can enable healthcare leaders to involve all stakeholders in the response to a given event, especially as some members of those teams may be working remotely. These tools also help ensure incident response is handled in line with organizational standards, as well as any continuing guidance from state and local officials.
Consistency in response to emergency incidents across facilities within larger healthcare systems with multiple locations is paramount. Not only can these solutions ensure that consistency, but they can also record a log of how the response was handled that leaders can reference to provide feedback to those involved and make improvements for the future.
Opening up channels for two-way communication
Amid the pandemic, having channels that allow for two-way communication with staff has been critical to understanding who is experiencing symptoms, who has tested positive, and what that means for immediate staffing needs. As cases surge, hospitals can leverage these channels to not only conduct wellness checks but also poll staff on availability to ensure all shifts are covered adequately as they deal with rising capacity levels and understaffed facilities.
While the battle against the virus is still in full swing, and as medical professionals across the country receive their first doses of the vaccine, those same tools can be used to learn about potential side effects and ensure second doses are administered in a timely fashion.
Anonymous tip solutions are another way healthcare leaders can enable doctors, nurses, and staff to play a role in their safety. A recent study found that 61% of respondents would be more likely to report a safety issue if they could do it anonymously. Anonymous tip solutions allow everyone within the hospital community to voice concerns related to the pandemic, like staffing shortages, availability (or lack thereof) of appropriate PPE, and more. Beyond the pandemic, anonymous tip solutions provide an outlet for staff to raise issues pertaining to day-to-day workplace safety.
Even though vaccines are beginning to be administered to healthcare workers, it’s likely the end of the holiday season will bring a continued surge in cases, leaving facilities pushed to their limits. When healthcare systems have the tools needed to quickly communicate with staff and receive feedback from the “boots on the ground” in real-time, they’re better equipped to handle whatever critical situation arises—whether that’s a once-in-a-lifetime global event like the pandemic or an everyday incident.
About Todd Miller, COO of Rave Mobile Safety
Todd Miller is the SVP of Strategic Programs of Rave Mobile Safety. Prior to joining Rave, Todd managed the self-service consulting Practice at Oracle where he was responsible for the delivery of customized software solutions for clients in North America, supporting millions of users. At Oracle, he was awarded recognition as a member of Oracle’s top 10 percent in Consulting. Todd’s previous experience includes leading consulting teams for Siebel and eDOCS in North America, Europe, and Australia.