In a recent column titled “Operational Status: Are you Ready to Respond” for Executive Insight, managing editor Jill Hoffman made a number of points about “Situational Awareness” in healthcare which bear repeating given how closely they align with “Operational Awareness“.

High in the column, which introduced a new series for the author titled Executive Perspectives for the Continuum of Care Archives, she makes the generally accepted point that “In today’s fast-paced healthcare environment, providers cannot be too informed.”

Many readers might look at that sentence and assume it was another ode to the value of on-line clinical information. But Ms. Hoffman takes this point considerably farther.

She continues with “As the healthcare world turns on such themes as accountability, collaboration, greater efficiency, higher bottom lines and better patient outcomes, this column will address these important facets of healthcare and how situational awareness aligns with these aims.

Her notion of “situational awareness” expands the value of on-line data to include “real-time information about the operational status of an entity, especially the safety of associated people and property.

Naturally, we like her thinking because operational awareness or management is what we’re all about, and it’s always refreshing to hear your mantra echoed by someone you’ve never even talked to.

Situational Awareness” originally referred to the ability of military pilots to gauge the operational status of their planes and recognize immediate threats.  In other words, the ability to see the whole gestalt.  Ms. Hoffman says it should now apply to all operations, including healthcare, so “personnel can be aware of potential problems before they become costly disruptions.

Here is the paragraph we like the best:

“When a triggering event occurs, situational awareness for life safety, security and environmental monitoring can be driven to as many screens as possible via mass notification to speed response and ensure redundancy. Importantly, it integrates disparate alarm systems (nurse call, telemetry, patient monitoring, infant abduction, fire panels, etc.) onto a single platform for centralized monitoring, alerting and reporting.”

TeleTracking uses “widely distributed” monitoring devices to gather information about hospital operations on a minute-by-minute basis and power that information to desk-top, wall-mounted and mobile screens throughout the enterprise, so everyone who needs to know can know.

Essentially, we provide a real-time “motion picture” of virtually everything that’s going on in a hospital or health system for complete operational awareness. Our purpose is to enhance efficiency, permit quick response to problems, generate revenue opportunities, and make sure every patient is in the right place at the right time with the right resources.

Ms. Hoffman’s ongoing column is devoted to helping health leaders keep their staff members informed “for the routine and extraordinary events happening on your premises.”

Here’s a sampling of subject matter:

  • What mechanisms are in place to deliver live intelligence to healthcare staff?
  • Is it delivered in the most up-to-date fashion to preferred communication devices?
  • If not, what is preventing this capability?
  • How are you poised to handle the increasing use of mobile communication and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in healthcare?
  • How can alerting solutions dovetail with these devices?
  • What technologies are available to ease the process of sharing important communications at a time when federal law demands increased collaboration?
  • How are you ensuring the right patient is in the right place in your healthcare facility?
  • How are you avoiding bottlenecks in care?
  • How can leaders ensure that physicians and staff members get on board with new alerting technology?
  • What tools make new technology more desirable? As patients become more active in choosing where to get care, how can digital solutions improve patient-centered care, service and hospitality?
  • Your site of operations houses critical equipment and devices to help the patients that arrive on your doorstep for help. What facility and operational monitoring options exist for greater peace of mind?
  • As Hurricane Sandy has shown, the right tools to handle emergency response are essential to protect and mitigate harm to patients and staff, and to keep the enterprise operational under any circumstance.

Some of these have been addressed already in her column, but Ms. Hoffman promises to give even more insights into how situational (or operational) awareness can impact daily care.

We can hardly wait.


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