3 Benefits of Prehospital Alerting Software for ED Teams

In the fast-paced and stressful workflow of an Emergency Department, accurate communication is a valuable commodity. A failure in communication between health care professionals can have results ranging from mild to devastating; recent studies estimate that 150,000-250,000 patients are killed each year from medical error, with communication failures contributing to 50% -80% of these sentinel events.

When the recipient of a patient handoff receives inaccurate, incomplete, not timely, misinterpreted, or extraneous information, the margin for error expands. Add to this the noise levels present in today’s hospitals (recent studies registered peak hospital noise levels at an average 80.3 dB – nearly as loud as a chainsaw) and HIPPA regulations on protecting patient information, it’s clear that ED professionals need new communication solutions for improving patient handoff.

As prehospital technology continues to get “smarter,” many EMS agencies are embracing new tools to help digitize their record-keeping and communication processes, including handoff to the ED. Among these, alerting software offers critical improvements in delivering timely, accurate, and insightful data to ED professionals waiting for the transport. Additionally, alerting software can benefit many ED functions for improved efficiencies, and ultimately, patient care.

1. Better Team Coordination

Hospital emergency departments are measured on a long-list of time-based metrics, and getting to correct diagnosis more quickly is not only better for performance records but the likelihood of a positive patient outcome. Alerting software allows EMS agencies to communicate with the ED so that the proper hospital staff can be contacted and assembled before the patient arrives.

Additionally, alerting software allows you to activate core team members with the click of a button. There’s no need to scramble to find staff at the last minute or wait for on-call physicians to call you back. Instead, the software does the heavy lifting, sending text messages and ensuring that the ED is ready to meet the transport at the door if needed. This is also especially helpful in logistics in the more serious calls, such as alerting a CathLab, preparing a room, or prioritizing your cases.

2. Improved Patient Handoff

The verbal component of a patient handoff will always be a part of a patient’s transition to the ED. Ironically, at the moment where communication is most important, it is also the most difficult. It is a very critical time for the patient, and in some cases, minutes matter. Even seemingly small details can make a difference in a patient’s outcome.

Prehospital alerting software can lighten the pressure by setting the stage for the receiving ED, giving them the back-story before the patient’s arrival. Alerting software allows EMS agencies to securely share photos and videos, updates, and other helpful information before they even arrive. Additionally, the alert’s digital record makes it easier to reference time stamps and double-check medications and fluids given as needed.

3. Increased Speed to Insight

In the most severe cases to come through your ED doors, timeliness can play a factor in the patient’s outcome. ED physicians and staff no longer have to go into a new case relatively blind, doing their best to get up to speed as quickly as possible upon arrival. Instead, they can prepare mentally by reviewing the critical information on an incoming case before they even arrive, cutting down on missed details, rushed diagnosis, and stress levels in general.

Alerting software also typically offers data flow into hospital EMR/EHR tools to reduce communication errors when accepting patients into the hospital ED. Since these digital records become part of the hospital database, providers can review prehospital care information at any time. Beyond immediate patient care, this data can give you more insight into training, procedures, community outreach, and QI/QA projects.

Making Technology Work for You

Most hospital professionals would agree that the more data you have, the better informed your decisions become. In today’s technologically advanced world, there’s no need to be waiting around for data to arrive via fax or trying to quickly take in all the patient information that could have been proactively shared on the way to the ED. Instead, communication along the health care spectrum can be fluid and instant, benefitting providers and patients alike.

Watch a video on how others have reduced communication barriers with alerting and bidirectional data exchange software in their emergency departments.

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