IoT-powered changes are coming to healthcare facilities in Australia and New Zealand. A recent regulatory ruling from Australasian Health Facility Guidelines (AusHFG) has mandated the introduction of staff duress solutions in all new hospitals. Permission to operate is conditional upon successful implementation of the measures to mitigate staff duress.
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The government’s actions are a response to something that has long been an issue in healthcare facilities, but has recently attracted well-deserved attention — the physical safety of nurses and other staff in hospitals and the threats & dangers they deal with on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, the situation is common in countries around the world. According to the American Nurses Association, 1 out of 4 nurses is assaulted on the job at some point. According to the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare workers are about four times more likely to be assaulted compared to all other workers in the private sector.
Of course, nearly all of these incidents are caused by patients and visitors rather than fellow employees. Other statistics in health care staff duress show that pushing, grabbing, and yelling are the most prevalent types of violence reported in patient rooms. These assaults and threats of assault primarily occur when nurses and support staff are restraining patients, responding to requests for help, or performing invasive procedures.
Hospitals are obviously aware of the threats and the effects they have on staff morale and productivity, but until recently all they have been able to do is to provide security staff. Even this has proven to be only semi-effective (in addition to being quite costly). In fairness, it is impossible for security personnel to immediately detect and respond to every incident that requires their attention and there is not much time between the start of the problem and a full-scale assault.
Add to that the fact that hospitals are large facilities with many rooms, wings and areas that are hard to monitor from a central location and you have the makings for a situation where nurses can be exposed to threatening situations without quick and easy access to help.
Looked at from this angle, it’s no wonder that AusHFG decided to make staff duress solutions an obligatory part of hospitals as workplaces going forward. But what exactly are they requiring hospitals to use?
Hospitals need a solution based on the real-time location of staff, who can use a connected network to summon help when needed. It’s hard to think of a use case more perfectly tailored to RTLS (Real-Time Location System), a tool that has already proven its value in any number of industries and contexts.
By deploying an RTLS network, healthcare facilities can leverage the latest advances in real-time location tracking technology using wireless devices to help create a safer working environment and reduce the response time to staff duress. These wireless devices empower staff with the capability to call help on demand and be easily located thanks to the positioning device they carry.
A simple badge with a duress-call button, always conveniently carried via lanyard, is always on stand-by, ready to call help at any time.
With RTLS, potential confrontations can be avoided, actual confrontations can be ended more quickly and nursing staff can enjoy the confidence of having fast, reliable backup at all times. Cloud-based tracking and wearable technology combine to create an always-on safety net ready to quickly locate any staff member in need of assistance and send help immediately.
The benefits of RTLS-based duress solutions for healthcare facilities start with an increased sense of safety for nurses and other staff but don’t end there.
Perhaps most important of all are the intangible improvements that staff duress solutions make possible, like improved morale and higher staff well-being. Instead of feeling alone and vulnerable, nurses can instead feel help is always literally a button-press away. Instead of worrying about potential confrontations and their consequences, nurses have the peace of mind of knowing that they’re not really alone, even if they are physically alone in a room with a patient.
This, in turn, creates a better working environment and higher productivity and efficiency and that inevitably results in better patient outcomes.
Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare sector. As compared to other healthcare workers, nurses spend the most bedside time with patients, hence putting them at risk of staff duress. Although danger is not what one associates with places of healing, nurses walk into the rooms of patients experiencing mental distress or interact with aggressive visitors. Reducing the chances of these incidents by providing help when it’s needed can transform a nurse’s daily work conditions and lead to a massive increase in their well-being.
Given how important nurses are in hospitals and how directly they impact patient care and outcomes, it’s clear that hospitals in Australia and New Zealand are about to enter a new era of nursing thanks to duress solutions. IoT for healthcare Australia will be even more imporatant.
RTLS is a technology solution used to automatically identify or track assets in an area in real time. In the context of healthcare, RTLS makes it possible to follow and manage medical equipment, patients, staff and more.
Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) as a communications standard, RTLS infrastructures enable any number of use cases that improve workflows, resolve bottlenecks, optimize staff time and effort, enforce restricted areas and generally improve the experience of anyone using the space. This results in lower, right-sized costs, greater employee and patient satisfaction, better safety & security and more.
Tags attached to mobile assets or badges carried by anyone in the facility provide real-time insights into the number and location of tracked people and items, down to the room and even bed level.
RTLS has repeatedly proven itself as an invaluable tool across multiple business, organizational and industrial contexts. Its recent entry into the healthcare space has already resulted in fundamental transformations of processes and procedures that were traditionally regarded as difficult to reform, mostly due to a lack of real-time insights. Now, with RTLS, any aspect of healthcare involving the smart optimization of people and assets can be significantly upgraded.
Click here to download our RTLS guide.
This dedicated webinar focuses on how RTLS-based staff duress solutions are redefining staff safety, patient experience and more. Watch and learn how easy it is to get started, what the system looks like in practice and examples of concrete savings that start on day one after deployment.
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