Why you should care about Environment of Care rounds

The practice of rounding happens everywhere within healthcare organizations, and it comes in many forms. Attending physicians check in on inpatients; bedside nurses round purposefully every hour to check in on patients’ “4 P’s” (pain, potty, possessions, positioning); hospital executives round on their staff to ensure they feel empowered to do their jobs effectively; and nurse managers round on patients daily to so that patients feel that all of their needs are being addressed thoroughly and consistently.

In the new, evolving landscape of healthcare, with a growing fervor for both patient-centered care and improving the patient experience, rounding to improve both staff and patient engagement has come to the forefront of the minds of healthcare leaders. Research “rounding” and you’ll see plenty of studies demonstrating how daily rounds improve HCAHPS scores or correlating physician empowerment with higher patient satisfaction results. Whether it’s to easily capture data, have the ability to route concerns to different departments, or generate reports that identify trends about the patient experience, hospitals are now looking for digital tools to help institutionalize their rounds on both patients and staff. But what about rounding on the facilities themselves?

While it may not be formally labeled as “rounding,” hospital departments ranging from housekeeping to food services to engineering have instilled rounding for a variety of purposes, both in patient rooms, as well as in hallways, waiting rooms, restrooms, and even entrance areas. These rounds, referred to commonly as Environment of Care (EOC) rounds, take place on the facilities themselves (as opposed to on the patients or staff) and are crucial components not only of the functions of these departments, but also for the overall operations of a hospital or clinic.

Part of the growing demand for EOC rounding has come from the emergence of technology in the rounding process, which has lead to significantly faster and better issue resolution. When an issue that demands attention is identified with a digital rounding tool, a pre-determined workflow is triggered to make sure that the proper people are notified in real time. If an issue isn’t addressed within a certain amount of time, then the issue can be escalated, either to someone else within the department or to a manager or supervisor. A digital rounding tool accomplishes all of the tasks in the sequence automatically, without extra work from the rounder, while capturing valuable data about the issue resolution process. The resulting reports allow hospitals to identify the source of the problems to drive long-term improvement.

On top of the obvious benefits of having a digital rounding tool for EOC is the need for inspections and accreditation. Joint Commission can come at any time, and even if their visit is planned, the massive amount of data that they want to validate is exhaustive. This surveying process is driving hospitals to create spreadsheets and complete them regularly using pen and paper, and then go back and encode this data so that there’s a record for when JCAHO pays a visit.

Take one of our partners, a rural community hospital. Like many of our CipherRounds clients, this hospital came to us to utilize CipherRounds for a combination of nurse and executive rounding focusing in on the patient experience. After a few weeks, their team asked its Cipher Account Strategist to train their Environmental Services and Engineering teams on our platform, so that they could be sent emails when nurses spotted anything from curtains needing replacement to broken light switches. While becoming familiar with the platform, the Environmental Services Director compared his own manual process for rounds, which requires his manager to go to every room in the hospital and all affiliated outpatient centers and mark down questions ranging from “is the safety equipment in place?” to “are secure areas locked and closed?” Approximately 6-8 weeks goes by before the data is recorded and any reports are generated, way too slow to use this process to resolve issues or to drive continuous improvement. He saw how the customization in CipherRounds was seemingly limitless, so he asked the Account Strategist for his own script with customized questions, alerts, and reports.

Leveraging a digital rounding tool for EOC rounds saves time through automatic alerts, drives improvements through data collection and reporting, and provides a platform for exceeding requests and expectations by third-party accreditors. To schedule a demo on our Environment of Care rounding program, contact us today.

As Demand Generation Manager, Lucia Huang, RN, integrates her previous experiences on the front lines of patient care within the broader context of the business of healthcare. She is passionate about empowering nurses to provide the highest quality and experience of patient care through technology. Lucia graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BS in Economics from the Wharton School and a BSN from the School of Nursing.