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Improving Workflow and Communication in Long-term Care

Taking the Nurse Call System to the Next Level

By

Improving Workflow and Communication in Long-term Care

The many interfaces of the Starling system make it easy for patients to communicate with nurses and staff to communicate with each other.

Starling Health

Hospitals and long-term care facilities are legally bound by a set of standards that dictate the hardware and equipment available for patient care activities. An Underwriter’s Laboratory Code, UL 1069, defines the requirements for Nurse Call in these inpatient settings.

First authored in 1974, UL 1069 represented state-of-the-art technology. Since 1974, UL 1069 has been updated; it is currently in its seventh edition. From a technology standpoint, however, even the most current edition of UL 1069 is not significantly different from prior editions and still outlines a system that relies heavily on traditional hardwired nurse call components.

Elevating the Standard

Starling® is a system developed by StarlingHealth with funding from the National Institutes of Health. It utilizes relatively new technology and leverages data to enhance workflow efficiency and improve the patient experience.

The platform is designed for low-cost implementation through software-as-a-service (SaaS) architecture, use of off-the-shelf hardware and the ability to operate over existing wired or wireless networks. This model is also advantageous for upgrades to the product’s features and expansion of the platform to accept other offerings such as patient education, provider pulse checks or electronic medical records.

For Patients

The patient interface resides at the bedside on a touchscreen tablet. With an intuitive graphic user interface, patients alert providers to their specific needs—a significant advantage over a traditional call light illumination. Using simple icons with accompanying audio and text references, patients simply reach out and tap what they need. Providers instantly receive electronic notifications at centralized nurse stations and on their individual mobile devices. The audio and text references can also be translated to virtually any language in order to accommodate patients with limited English proficiency.

For Providers

Knowing a patient’s needs without entering the room empowers providers to improve response times, manage expectations, improve workflows and establish provider accountability.

  • Response Times

    Knowing what a patient needs without having to enter their room eliminates several steps in the process of responding to and fulfilling a patient request. Faster response times and the ability to respond to patients’ needs improve patient flow and patient satisfaction.

  • Managing Expectations

    Proactively managing expectations helps maintain a positive patient experience. Starling® enables providers to send pre-loaded notifications in response to a pending patient alert. Telling a patient “I’m on my way” or “Someone will help you in five minutes” instills a feeling that they are being acknowledged and cared for.

  • Workflows

    Care providers are made up of numerous specialists with different skill sets, and patient requests involve all of them. Starling® enables administrators to configure workflows that are aligned with the existing processes at the facility. Providers automatically route each request to the appropriate department or staff member, eliminating the “traffic cop” scenario.

  • Accountability

    Tracking the data from each request-related transaction drives accountability measures that are otherwise nonexistent with traditional nurse call systems. Starling’s® reporting enables administrators to trace each request, from its inception, to a provider receiving it, to its completion.

Long-term Care Benefits

Long-term care facilities and hospitals care for patients in different environments, but elements of the processes are identical when it comes to patient-initiated alerts. Just as in inpatient settings, Starling® has great potential to improve response times, manage expectations, improve workflows and establish provider accountability in long-term care settings. However, just like hospitals, long-term care facilities will soon be scrutinized by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, and patient satisfaction scores may determine reimbursement dollars. Though the final ruling has not been made, it will almost certainly include an element of the patient experience. Traditional nurse call systems lack the sufficient level of visibility on patient request data to identify areas for improvement.

The average length of stay in certain long-term care facilities is substantially longer than that of hospitals, which translates to more data per patient. Such data will be invaluable to long-term care facilities when trying to elevate the standard of care provision in the face of reimbursement dollars.

About StarlingHealth

StarlingHealth is a thought leader in healthcare process optimization. They are improving quality by eliminating communication barriers directly at the bedside. Their technology is designed to give patients and care providers a new standard of collaboration tools to improve communication at the point of care.

Starling® is currently being piloted by several hospitals on the east coast. For more information please visit www.starlinghealth.com, call (212) 274-1654 x33 or email info@starlinghealth.com.

Editor's Note: while this article is not meant to serve as an endorsement of the product, having been in the healthcare profession for 27 years and being familiar with these technologies, it struck me that there was really nothing like this system on the market. And our devotion to making experiences for patients and residents better prompted me to ask Starling to write something for about.com to see if what is being used in the hospital industry could have application in long-term care.

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