The healthcare industry has seen numerous innovations and technological advancements in recent years, but ensuring patient safety, at the local, regional, national and global level remains a stubbornly vexing challenge.
Because so many statistics illustrate the story of struggles with patient safety within healthcare, it can be challenging to make sense of all the numbers. However, here are a couple of the most troubling:
- On any given day, approximately one of every 25 inpatients in U.S. acute-care hospitals has at least one healthcare–associated infection, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
- Conservatively, medical errors are responsible for more than 250,000 deaths in the U.S. per year, making medical errors the nation’s third-leading cause of death, according to a study from Johns Hopkins University.
- According to NHS Patient Safety Strategy, it is estimated that 11,000 deaths are the result of patient safety incidents per year in the UK. In fact they have been focusing improvement programmes on areas where most harm is seen could save 568 lives.
Global patient safety statistics are also alarming. According to the World Health Organization (WHO):
- One in every 10 patients is harmed while receiving hospital care, with nearly 50% of these adverse events considered preventable.
- Recent evidence suggests that 134 million adverse events occur each year due to unsafe care in hospitals in developing nations, resulting in 2.6 million deaths.
- More than 1 million patients die annually from complications due to surgery. Globally, surgery still results in high rates of illness, disease and death.
Addressing the Issues
For healthcare organizations (HCOs), addressing issues with patient safety or medical errors can consume countless hours and resources, with very little return on investment. Many – though certainly not all – of these issues can be improved by implementing the right technology and safety modules.
The following is RLDatix’s prescription for improving the patient experience, patient safety, and data sharing, along with a description of the role our solutions play in addressing these issues.
Patient Experience: Greater patient satisfaction often leads to greater feelings of well-being. The RLDatix Patient Experience module provides HCOs with the tools needed to manage patient relations, enabling them to respond rapidly and effectively to patient concerns. The module enables users to identify areas of improvement for quality and efficiency, perform related analysis and implement corrective plans. The software alerts users when patient inquiries require a response and enables patient relations managers to sort complaints by due date.
Patient Safety Incidents: Though most HCOs take many precautions, medical errors are still bound to occur. Before they do, it is critical that HCOs design a comprehensive and explicit plan for fixing adverse events and investigating the causes. The RLDatix Incident Reporting module supports the submission of incident reports from a variety of settings, including clinical units, outpatient facilities, physician practices, and independent contractors. Designed collaboratively with end-users, the RLDatix online incident reporting form delivers simplicity of use for both clinical and non-clinical incident reports and enables any member to file a report. Users can personalize the interface and amend workflows to match their preference and organizational structures.
Data Sharing and Storage: Too many HCOs rely on antiquated, subpar information technology systems to store and share essential patient data, reducing efficiency. RLDatix Anywhere is a mobile app that facilitates incident reporting in real-time at the touch of a button from anywhere events occur. Employing sophisticated voice-recognition technology, RLDatix Anywhere seamlessly converts speech to text, enabling users to more quickly report incidents with no degradation of information quality. The easy-to-use app features an intelligent design that expedites instant entry of key data into customizable forms, enabling active surveillance to promote a culture of safety.
Global Patient Safety Initiatives
The initiatives and solutions described above are not just limited to the U.S. but can also be expanded globally. As outlined by WHO, “Investment in patient safety can lead to significant financial savings. This is because the cost of prevention is typically much lower than the cost of treatment due to harm.” The organization also says that, if done well, patient safety can be less costly and provide value by reducing the burden of harm by up to 15%. This could also save billions of dollars each year.
RLDatix has the experience and capabilities to capture data, track incidents and employ technologies in various countries throughout the world. By collating local data to inform nationwide improvements we can improve quality and patient safety. This is especially important as we collaborate at global, regional and national levels with health systems as they advance their investments in technology solutions.
The Joint Commission International has established several goals for patient safety, including: Identifying them correctly; improving communication, improving safety, and reducing the risks of harms and infections. A holistic and comprehensive approach to patient safety developed by global policymakers and incorporating the issues—and solutions—herein will go a long way to engage and protect patients, as well as improve outcomes for millions of patients and reduce costs by billions of dollars.