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Digital Rounding and Infection Control in the Wake of COVID-19

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As the coronavirus (COVID-19) has left hospitals in need of help in many areas, evaluating & preparing for the next wave or a future pandemic is a top priority for resuming normal operations as soon as possible. This is a quick exploration of two possible categories (digital rounding and infection control) for your facility to proactively pursue in the wake of the nationwide COVID-19 response.

Digital Rounding Automation

Hospitals today during COVID-19 have been required to deviate drastically from normal operating procedures due to the arrival of the recent pandemic. Many areas of hospitals have been struggling to get appropriate supplies, get additional resources, and provide daily testing and maintenance, which is partially attributed due to lack of supply chain vendors available or complete tasks within their required timelines.  

During these times of increased workload and reduced resources, digital rounding automation is an incredibly effective tool to assist in maximizing your rounding process. It also minimizes the amount of time staff use completing a task. This is especially beneficial to leadership since it allows them the ability to quickly and accurately identify any shortfalls that may be occurring. Especially right now, the difference between a few days can make a substantial impact on any organization if PPE supplies, daily rounds, or a checklist process gets overlooked.

During the transition phase, sit down with your staff and have an open and honest discussion about your processes in place and determine how much digital automation will assist you and your department. Here are some steps to guide your discussion.

  • Use past and current examples to help brainstorm how much digital rounding automation will help your department during times of increased workload and reduced services.
  • Prioritize your results and use that information to help guide you in meeting your future needs.
  • Utilize the information obtained to report back to your Environment of Care/Safety Committees and have them assist you in making recommendations to your governing board.
  • Make sure you’re clear to your committees and governing board that obtaining additional software platforms will not only help the organization succeed in times of crisis operations, it will also assist them by reducing operating costs during times of normal operation.

Infection Control

“Wash your hands” is what we heard our mothers say repeatedly as children. Through groans and heavy stomping of our feet, we begrudgingly did it. Now that statement holds true more than ever. According to Dr. Wladimir Alsonso, Journal of Clinical Infectious Disease, did you know that the average person touches their face 3.3 times per hour?  That wasn’t written to scare anyone, but instead to illustrate the daunting task for anyone involved in reducing infections in healthcare, especially during a pandemic. Infection control from this point on will be forever changed and as a result, multiple studies will be published.

Some suggestions for approaching the recovery phase of COVID 19:

  • Try to get involved in studies that are occurring and provide the most accurate data possible to the person/organization completing the study.
  • If willing and able, publish accounts of your own study. Utilize internal data you had during this time to help your peers that may not have been as affected. Help them see the situation through someone that was directly involved.
  • Send surveys out to staff and get their honest feelings on how much or little they felt prepared during the outbreak. This is an excellent time to evaluate your staff’s past training and receive their true feelings.
  • Speak with your supply chain/engineering leadership and get their feelings on how prepared they thought the organization was. Find out what occurred in their departments that you were not aware of. You will find interesting information since both of those departments are involved with everyone in the entire facility.
  • And the last one is the hardest for all of us…
  • Make sure you keep your efforts focused during your information gathering.

It is very easy to start focusing on things that we may have a special interest in or possibly make the focus so broad we lose the integrity of our fact-finding mission altogether. If you are utilizing a team, make sure you stay aligned in the same direction. For example, don’t worry about ceiling vents on a cleaning schedule when your floors are not being thoroughly cleaned.

Getting a chance to proactively mitigate for future events and build on your preparedness strategies will only make your facility better from this experience. Keep in mind this article is not all-inclusive but, hopefully, will help assist in your endeavors to come.

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