HIMSS 2015: Why Data-Sharing Among Medical Devices is Crucial

Do medical devices inadvertently cause deadly errors in hospitals? In a recent Gary and Mary West Health Institute study, half of the nurses surveyed said they had witnessed at least one on-the-job error due to medical devices not automatically sharing data with one another.

In a separate Spyglass Consulting Group study, researchers cited communication breakdowns as the root cause of 70 percent of treatment delays and sentinel events–defined as unexpected occurrences resulting in serious injury or death.

It’s estimated that as many as 440,000 people die in hospitals each year from preventable causes. Expanded data-sharing and products that improve staff communication will absolutely help improve that statistic.

There’s still work to be done to achieve that goal.

Hospitals that want to free their staff to spend more time with patients need to give them better tools to communicate while on the go. That means giving nurses and doctors mobile devices that contain live, actionable contextual data.

Consider a glucose meter that shares live readings with an insulin pump, which automatically adjusts its dosages accordingly. That data gets automatically saved on the patient’s Electronic Health Record, which medical personnel can review on their mobile device.

Many medical devices still live in technology silos, forcing nurses and doctors to transfer data manually or interpret readings themselves, adding time, complexity, and the possibility of error to the health equation.

The solution is more openness between devices, and a common development platform (such as Engagement Development Platform) to federate data-sharing between those devices.

In a similar vein, hospitals need to adopt a strategy to handle mobile devices across different workflow processes. Currently, hospital workers can carry badges, wireless phones, hospital-owned smartphones, personal smartphones–and yes, even pagers.

If one nurse wants to call another nurse, which device do they use? Does your hospital have a clear communication workflow?

Here at Avaya, we encourage the hospitals we work with to consolidate their communication devices and streamline their communication workflows, to better combat the ineffectiveness and confusion surrounding multiple devices.

Don’t forget about secure texting solutions: With certain procedures, medical personnel need to focus on the task at hand, making secure texting a necessity.

Consider nurse call integrations, allowing the patient to press the bedside call button and get connected immediately with a nurse carrying a mobile device. Other functions, such as the patient discharge process, can be sped up with EHR integration into the mobile device.

Precious minutes are wasted each day by doctors and nurses who walk around their floor, looking for someone specific who isn’t answering their phone. Connected mobile devices can make that a thing of the past, by automatically locating specific clinical resources.

Mobile care team coordination can unleash the power of engagement for hospital staff across the continuum of care, and create a mobile engagement environment that can help reduce communication breakdowns.

Join Avaya next week in Chicago (April 12-16) at HIMSS, the country’s largest healthcare IT show. At booth #3695, we’ll be demonstrating our line of healthcare solutions, including an on-call physician locator application, built using the Engagement Development Platform.

For more information about Avaya Healthcare Solutions, visit avaya.com/healthcare.

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