There is a belief and hope today that technology will solve all our problems. Well, it won’t! Technology can go a long way to help with patient safety and administering the best care to patients, but it isn’t a panacea.
There is also a fear of technology: What it is, what it does, is it going to replace me, can it really help?
In the world of alarm management, the technology is software, something that most times cannot be seen or touched, connecting other technologies that are connected to patients. These patients are primarily being cared for by nurses who are often uneducated about the various technologies they use. Often, this results in fear of the unknown as it can be difficult and daunting to understand or trust something they cannot see or touch since it sits in the abyss of a hospital network.
Nurses who are just starting their careers are typically in their early twenties, and they are fully versed in a world of cellphone software and technologies. The fear of technology is less apparent among them than among those in the profession who are in their sixties—many of whom consider technology a hindrance.
Though alarm management software resides and is maintained by the IT/Network/Biomed/Telephony departments of healthcare facilities, it’s a clinical application used 24/7 by caregivers at the point of care i.e., the patient. All activity from the various technologies begins at the bedside with the patient. This can be unnerving for anybody, especially a patient, if there is no clarity about the functionality of these technologies.
Why is it then that many facilities are keeping this often simple information in the environment of its origin? Many believe that software belongs in IT so that’s where the information stays, and no one else needs to know about it. Yet, if we break down these silos, bring them together, communicate, educate, and translate with respect and understanding, we can go a long way to embrace technology on all levels with greater trust and admiration for its capabilities. We will be able to utilize it to the potential it was designed for and, most importantly, we can effectively communicate to the people they are intended and developed to help—the patients.
There is a lot to be said for and about technology in healthcare, but if we are not collaborating and educating each other from our respective silos, we cannot communicate effectively to the patients and their loved ones, to put their minds somewhat at ease about the technologies being utilized to help and improve patient care.
Laurence Pritchett is an account executive at Connexall. He spoke at the Nov, 14 inaugural meeting of the National Coalition to Promote Continuous Monitoring of Patients on Opioids.