Violent incidents at healthcare provider organizations, especially the emergency department, are not unusual, with incidents large and small involving patients, care providers and staff occurring daily nationwide.
But it’s very important that workplace violence does not simply become “part of the job” for healthcare workers.
Various nursing associations are bringing awareness and tougher penalties for those who harm staff. But some health technology experts say implementation of security enabled with real-time location systems has the potential to ensure stronger protections for employees.
Nick Adriance is global product manager, safety solutions, at CenTrak, which offers locating, sensing and security technologies for the healthcare industry.
We sat down with him to discuss how RTLS can help prevent workplace violence and ensure fast response times from security personnel, why RTLS-designed facilities can help when seeking to hire new talent, and some ways technology can be used to improve the workplace for nurses as the nursing shortage worsens.
Q. How can RTLS help prevent workplace violence and ensure fast response times from security personnel?
A. As hospitals and other healthcare facilities continue recuperating from the fallout of COVID-19 and navigating increased workplace violence, RTLS provides a cost-effective staff duress solution that prevents threats from escalating to dangerous events.
The technology behind RTLS enables staff members to discreetly send panic alerts from active-RFID location-enabled badges. Once the alert button is engaged, security personnel are immediately notified, receive the healthcare worker’s specific location, and can quickly respond to the situation.
The subtlety and close proximity of the button is crucial for staff members under duress. Even if a security guard is nearby, physically signaling for help can potentially escalate a violent encounter.
The emergency call immediately notifies the appropriate personnel via their computer workstations, email, SMS messages, display monitors, VoIP phone messages, security dispatchers and alarm buzzers, and shares the exact real-time location of the emergency.
By incorporating an accurate RTLS solution with redundant alerts, team members are guaranteed that their duress call is received promptly and addressed immediately.
Following an emergency notification, location visibility increases response times to prevent staff injury, especially in high-risk areas such as the emergency department or behavioral health units. The system continuously shares rapid and ongoing real-time location updates to assist security personnel.
Even if a healthcare professional moves during a duress situation, responding team members have ongoing visibility into the new location and not solely the site where the alert originated to ensure a quick and accurate response. Leadership and security directors can consider RTLS duress solutions that offer clinical-grade locating, which provides the most precise locating for a staff member, patient or asset.
Investing in RTLS can combat the increasing violence against healthcare workers and make healthcare professionals safer.
Q. How can RTLS-designed facilities help when seeking to hire new talent?
A. As leadership at health systems and facilities look for new ways to hire and retain staff, they must first pause to reconsider current tactics and ensure they’re supplying their teams with the support and safety they truly need.
Healthcare professionals are critical to the health and wellness of the communities they serve, and talented new hires want to know their employer will utilize the newest tools necessary to ensure quality care. Technology such as RTLS provides advanced solutions to better assist staff, especially as many teams are experiencing more limited resources.
Workplace violence is on the rise, and facilities seeking to appeal to and hire new staff must invest in and be able to demonstrate a safe environment for their employees. This can set facilities and leadership apart when competing for top talent.
By implementing RTLS, facility leadership can provide a robust staff duress solution and other crucial resources that benefit the overall health, safety and efficiency of staff. This demonstrates to new hires and interested applicants that the healthcare facility values safety and prioritizes both the needs of patients and employees.
Beyond staff duress, additional RTLS solutions grant healthcare workers better assistance and provide the support new hires want to see. By adding location data to a nurse call solution, teams gain stronger communication and improved workflow.
When a nurse enters a patient’s room, instead of navigating an obstacle course of medical equipment to hit a call cancellation button, their badge automatically sends a signal that cancels the call and notes the time of their arrival. The automation allows nurses to go straight to assessing the patient’s needs – creating a better experience for both parties.
Healthcare facilities can leverage RTLS to decrease bottlenecks in clinical workflow, enhance the overall coordination of patient care, reduce manual documentation, increase safety for all, and streamline procedures and compliance. New hires and existing staff want to work smarter not harder, and know they are supported by leadership through the use of technology.
Q. What are some ways technology can be used to improve the workplace for nurses as the nursing shortage worsens?
A. Staffing shortages negatively impact patient care and job satisfaction, which can lead to missed shifts, high turnover and higher costs. Lessening nurses’ workloads is a critical aspect of combating burnout and promoting staff retention, and healthcare leaders will find that investing in nurses makes sense for the facility’s bottom line.
It also greatly benefits staff satisfaction and patient experience, and demonstrates that leadership values their employees’ wellbeing.
While tokens of appreciation are thoughtful, eliminating non-value-adding tasks and freeing up time for nurses to focus more on patient care is likely to have a greater, long-term impact on employee satisfaction.
Making nurses feel supported, safe and equipped to do their jobs can reduce the alarming number of employees considering leaving the profession and help health systems avoid the significant costs that come with recruitment and training.
Workplace violence and safety have become an increasing concern for nurses and healthcare professionals. By incorporating RTLS technology into existing security systems, healthcare facilities gain the most comprehensive security solution.
Location technology can not only help address safety concerns, but also expand into other aspects of a facility’s operations for improved efficiencies. Integrations with nurse call systems, EHRs, and dedicated solutions that support clinical workflow automation, asset management, real-time temperature monitoring and more, provide additional workplace benefits for nurses and staff.
Automating nurse call systems is a relatively simple solution that delivers outsized benefits for staff and reduces time-consuming manual procedures. Improving any clinical workflow process stands to increase operational efficiency, and call systems impact the vast majority of nurses.
As leadership seeks to improve the workforce for nurses, another key area to address is asset visibility. One-third of nurses report spending an hour or more during an average shift hunting for equipment. That time totals 6,000 hours wasted per month and reduces patient care, which is especially inefficient as resource-constrained nurses handle additional responsibilities.
By implementing RTLS for asset management, nursing can locate critical equipment within minutes – saving precious time, reducing stress and ensuring timely care.
Healthcare facilities can leverage RTLS to decrease bottlenecks in clinical workflow and enhance the coordination of patient care. Administrators can keep tabs on key patient flow metrics such as patient volume, length of stay, room utilization, patient wait times and time with a care provider.
This information can support data-driven staffing strategies to ensure resources are allocated when and where they are needed most. Additionally, when caregivers don’t need to ask where their patients stand in the care process or wait for manually entered status updates, they can more effectively manage their daily workflow and devote more time to quality care.
RTLS technology also offers automated approaches to remain compliant with the Joint Commission’s updated workplace violence prevention standards to use along with the staff duress solutions. Facilities must conduct annual worksite violence analyses, establish processes to monitor and accurately report violence, and educate on de-escalation tactics.
By incorporating RTLS and leveraging reporting tools, facilities can significantly reduce and proactively address workplace violence. Support at work not only increases satisfaction, it allows healthcare professionals to focus more on patient care, providing both a fulfilling career and positive patient experiences.
A safe and supportive workplace should be the norm, not the exception.
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