- Efficient care team activations are critical for urgent care delivery
- Improving care team response times isn’t the only unit of measurement healthcare organizations should be using to judge success
- Care team activations need to be done efficiently and with context
In healthcare, improving critical care team activations is essential. For most improvement projects, however, measurement and success are based solely on time to respond. We need to go further.
Not only do we need quicker critical care team activations – we need to activate care teams with context.
Many organizations struggle with inefficient communication. Health systems using numerous mechanisms such as pagers, overhead calls, EMR alerts, and phone calls can experience slower response times as team members work through multi-step notification processes. And, often, team members arrive to then learn vital patient details before providing care.
Care team activations with context means not only notifying the right team members quickly, but also providing each of them with the context they need to arrive informed and prepared to care for each unique patient. It could be the difference between life and death.
Improving critical care team activations is essential, and requires two key steps.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that activating a clinical team quickly is central to providing the best patient care.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center took this challenge on firsthand when it created a COVID Line Team to increase the efficiency of placing central and arterial lines for COVID-patients in the ICU.
This kind of innovative thinking is what continues to push medicine forward. However, I would go even further in the development of response teams like this to not just create the team and determine method of activation. How do we ensure all team members and key stakeholders are notified at the same time, through the same method, and with context of the situation?
For example, wouldn’t it be increasingly beneficial to activate each member of the COVID Line Team while simultaneously informing everyone that the patient is of a certain age, is obese, has a history of intravenous drug use, is hypotensive…. and details that would inform the team that line placement could be made more challenging? The team would arrive quickly and informed for the unique patient in need of their care.
Improving critical care team activations in this way requires two things:
- Consolidating technology so all clinicians are notified and communicating through the same communication channel
- Ensuring the technology deployed can provide context in tandem with activation
Consolidating technology and improving care team activations – How does it work?
A growing number of healthcare organizations across the nation are taking steps to consolidate clinical communication and workflows. This consolidation ensures that immediate response team members and key stakeholders are notified quickly and provided with all pertinent patient information at the same time.
For example, a large southeastern health system comprised of 18 hospitals and 700 non-acute facilities, consolidated its technology – eliminating all clinical pagers and unifying all clinical communication systems onto one platform.
Consolidating technology in this way streamlined Code Stroke activations, significantly reducing the number of steps needed for activation. By pairing role-based messaging with its native on-call scheduling functionality, the platform sends instant notification of the care team while simultaneously providing team members with patient information provided by EMS.
This approach has improved care team activations, resulting in substantial time savings. The Code Stroke team now communicates in real-time upon activation to arrive informed and prepared.
As stated by the clinical nurse program manager for the Neurosciences Virtual Care Telestroke Department, “When it comes to stroke team activation, saving one minute saves millions of brain cells.”
Health systems should strive not to just improve clinical care team activation response times, but to activate teams with context.