How Technology Can Help Reduce Patient Falls

This is part 1 of a 2 part blog series that explores the benefits of patient safety rounding.

Patient safety rounding is often overlooked at hospitals. With limited staff and a considerable number of patients, rounding, let alone patient safety rounding, is often not adequately performed by providers.

According to the Leapfrog Group, an independent, national not-for-profit advocate for hospital transparency, patient injuries, accidents and infections, kill over 200,000 Americans each year. As a result, hospital safety breakdown errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

This statistic alone should be enough to convince any hospital to take patient safety rounding more seriously, yet the constraints of hospital staff, time, and money make it a difficult concern to prioritize. Despite this challenge, technology solutions can greatly help ease the patient engagement burden.

Sentara Healthcare, a non-profit healthcare system serving North Carolina and Virginia, began a patient safety initiative in 2014 focused on preventable patient falls and used technology to maximize the effectiveness of the initiative. Specifically, their goals were to reduce the number of falls per 1,000 patient days and the number of falls that resulted in injuries.

But how exactly does technology help teams of nurses? Specifically, how does a technology solution promote better rounding long-term? The answer lies within consistency. By nature of being automated, technology provides the same scripts to the same types of patients. As a result, nurses are prompted to ask these patients the same questions, eliminating the potential for miscommunication.

After comparing various solutions, Sentara partnered with CipherHealth to implement CipherRounds, our digital rounding tool. With CipherRounds, nurses at Sentara were able to both create and integrate a fall prevention specific rounding script. The script helped nurses identify fall risks through environmental assets such as a missing yellow armband or a fall mat. If an issue was identified, an automatic alert was sent to the appropriate staff for resolution.

The immediacy of the CipherRounds alerts significantly improved nurse response time and issue resolution, thereby decreasing fall rates. After a few months, Sentara saw their fall rate reduced by 78% and the fall rate with injury dropped by 85%.

Overall, fall prevention doesn’t have to be a tedious and time consuming process. With the help of technology, fall prevention and patient safety can be an attainable improvement no matter the staff size or patient population.

To find out more about patient safety rounds, read the part 2 in this series.

As CipherHealth’s Chief Nursing Officer, Lisa Romano, MSN, RN brings more than 25 years of experience in clinical practice, healthcare IT strategy, and healthcare operations to her current role. Prior to previous CNO roles, Lisa spent 19 years as a nurse and hospital administrator at Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network in Allentown, PA, where she was responsible for all patient flow and transfer center operations as well as numerous quality and patient satisfaction initiatives. Lisa is passionate about improving the health of patients across the healthcare continuum.