The National Patient Safety Foundation’s  Patient Safety Awareness Week kicked off on Sunday.  A week where the efforts of healthcare professionals to keep patients safe and provide optimum, quality care is recognized.  Critical to patient safety is the operational efficiency of a health system – and the strategies and tactics to maximize it.


An Institute of Medicine (IOM) report called Crossing the Quality Chasm continues to guide many patient safety improvement initiatives as it focused us all on six fundamental aims for healthcare—that it be safe, effective, patient-centered, efficient, equitable and timely.

The concept of timeliness continues to gain importance during this era of value based care delivery. The IOM released a separate study focused on the subject of time called Transforming Health Care Scheduling and Access: Getting to Now.  Some of the key findings included the fact that long wait times are the result of:

  • Supply/demand mismatch
  • Under-use of non-physician staff
  • Care complexity
  • Geographic and financial access

In addition, there are no national standards for appropriate wait times.  Institutions must create their own standards—with the IOM calling for healthcare leaders to conduct further research in this area.

This is where safety, timeliness and efficiency of patient flow intersect—when these three things aren’t working synergistically, problems can occur.  For example, according to the World Health Organization there are over 1.4 million cases of health care-associated infections [HAI] at any given time, including everything from bloodstream to pulmonary infections—and that actual number is likely much higher than reported.  Stated another way, on any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.

Now, let’s look at the intersection of safety, timeliness and efficiency of patient flow when those three things are in sync.  For example, the infections mentioned above can be reduced with a real-time system that monitors caregivers’ use of sanitizer and soap dispensers.  [For more information on TeleTracking’s RTLS – Hand Hygiene Monitoring solution, click here.]

Second, when patient care is coordinated—when they are receiving the right care, at the right place, the right time—safety also improves because they have access to the most competent resources in the clinical setting surrounded by the right equipment, ready access to medications, and are often adjacent to appropriate diagnostics which minimizes wasted transportation and wasted time.

Visit the National Patient Safety Foundation website to learn even more about their mission of partnering with patients and families, the health care community, and key stakeholders to advance patient safety and health care workforce safety and disseminate strategies to prevent harm.

You can also learn more about TeleTracking’s patient safety solutions by viewing our on-demand webinar Understanding Patient Quality and Safety Issues.

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