Alarm Management – What Really Matters

As your hospital begins to plan its alarm management and event response strategy to comply with The Joint Commission’s 2014 National Patient Safety Goals on alarm safety you should first understand what really matters.

Middleware and integration matters because your core alarm management platform must be able to reliably acquire data from up to a dozen separate enterprise systems in order to enable better event response and improved processes for notification of critical events. Vendor-neutral middleware makes all this work.

FDA 510k clearance matters because you need medical device alarms integrated with your alerting workflows. There is a notable distinction between “alerts” and “alarms”. Don’t be fooled by vendors that only offer “alerting” as these vendors rely on third-parties that have FDA 510k clearance for alarm management. Integrating medical device, patient monitoring and ventilator alarms requires an FDA 510k clearance and also recognize that monitors typically generate the highest incidence of actual alarms. These alarms need to be routed to and managed by a single system that can prioritize all alerts and alarms. Ask your vendor if they have any live sites with ventilator alarms integrated into caregiver workflows.

An advanced clinical rules engine matters because you need the ability to configure flexible complex rules that will be used to determine who the best person to notify is. Complex rules are also used to reduce the number of alarms that get sent to caregivers. Traditional first generation alarm management approaches apply one simple rule per alarm received requiring excessive use of group messages and other compromises that may contribute to alarm fatigue.

A seamless combination between alarm management and event driven patient-centric text messaging matters because most clinical communications begin with a patient-related alarm or event. Alarm context ensures that patients are easily identified, which expedites the care coordination process. Implementing one vendor and one platform enables hospitals to achieve optimized event response workflows.

Automated clinical presence matters because the Engage platform enhances event response workflow by automatically narrating elements of the event response dialog; thereby providing an entirely new level of care team awareness and response orchestration.

Clinical context matters because understanding which clinician is best to notify about an alarm or event requires more than simple time clock and duty assignment. In determining actual clinician availability, the Extension Engage platform is able to use alarm, event, clinician location, licensure, and presence data to improve the response to alarms and events.

Alarms and messaging inside and outside the four walls of the hospital matters because for certain non-urgent but high-priority processes, unit nurses and staff receiving alarms must be able to communicate and exchange text messages with physicians that are often not inside the hospital and clinicians outside the hospital need to also receive critical lab results. The four walls of the hospital should not be a barrier to your compliance and clinical objectives.

Support for hybrid phone devices matters because hospitals typically have mixed device environments and clinicians will need to communicate (voice and messaging) between traditional wireless devices (VoIP phones) and to smartphones. Having a solution that enables hospitals to seamlessly bridge the inevitable transition from traditional “legacy” phone devices to the new world of smartphones offers a real advantage.

Single point of hospital-wide alarm policy management matters because your patient safety/alarm policy committee needs to have administrative tools that can safely and easily implement their clinical care policies; facilitating a unified view for prioritization and unit-level policies of alarms and notifications originating from these separate clinical systems.

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