Tips for Mobilizing Alerts and Messages
How to Effectively Combat Interruption Fatigue
In theory, the more you alert a provider to potential problems, the better care the patient will receive. However, the high volume of alerts in many hospitals causes interruption fatigue: Clinicians suffer from cognitive overload from the overwhelming number of alerts and messages, which leads to longer response times or critical alerts being missed completely. How can a health system decrease interruption fatigue while ensuring clinicians receive alerts and messages that are truly critical? Here are some best practices for mobilizing patient alerts and messages:
UPDATE ALERT NOTIFICATIONS
Reduce clinically unimportant alerts. Nurse call systems, such as alerting to a bed exit or a clinician needing a staff assist, are important. A code is also critically important to mobilize. Eliminate alerts that sound due to clinically inconsequential events. For example, changing a pulse oximeter’s thresholds, when appropriate, could help.
Deliver alerts to the right recipients. Alerts should be directed to the proper team or role. A routine patient request or device notification only needs to go to the nurse assigned to the patient, while a critical alert requires a cross-functional team response. A clinical alert system that is integrated with a schedule management tool ensures alerts are routed to the appropriate on-duty people and teams.
Define response workflows. A challenge for many nurses and physicians is overcoming the idea that every alert must be actively acknowledged. Develop policies on the clinical response that is tied to the reception of an alert, based on its criticality. A bed exit might require an immediate response, while a patient requesting ice chips might allow the clinician to finish his or her current task.
REPLACING PHONE CALLS WITH SECURE MESSAGES
Some of our customers have a difficult time getting used to the idea that they can send a secure message to perform an action that previously required a phone call. With secure messaging, a clinician can track a message’s sent/delivered/read status. This eliminates the need to place a phone call, leave a voicemail message and potentially engage in a game of phone tag.
Convert phone calls to secure messages.
Phone calls are valuable when a clinician has a lot of information to pass along. For simple messages, however, health systems should identify call-based workflows that could be performed as messaging in order to reduce time-to perform.
Leverage reminder features.
Once a secure message is sent, it’s easy for a busy clinician to move on to the next task and forget that he or she is waiting for a response. A clinical communication platform’s secure messaging tool should remind a user within a certain time frame if a clinician has not read the message, so that the sender can follow up.
The time is now to address interruption fatigue at your hospital. An effective alarm management and messaging strategy can help reduce non-emergent interruptions, improving patient safety and clinician satisfaction.