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Importance of Environment of Care Tours

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In today’s world, hospitals require every department to be more productive within their work environment while utilizing fewer resources. Unfortunately, this lean business model is not only here to stay but will become more aggressive due  to reduced insurance and medicare reimbursements.

Facilities, environmental services, security, and other non-clinical services are often the areas most affected by this model. Non-clinical departments either deal with staff reduction or a freeze in hiring once the hospital has been deemed to reduce costs. You’re probably wondering what does this have to do with the importance of environment of care tours?

Staff reductions within a hospital create a workplace more focused on their direct job duties to ensure their daily tasks are completed. Staff feeling rushed and stressed manifests the perfect storm for an increase in implementing shortcuts, broken equipment, and facility damage. As a result of the fast-paced environment, items in the past that were reported are now looked at as “someone else’s responsibility.” Staff don’t have time to report or identify environment of care issues unless it directly affects them. This causes increases in safety and facility risks and maximizing your EC tour process becomes an essential part of your overall facility maintenance plan.

Since this is becoming all too common in today’s facilities, environment of care tours are now more important than ever, even though accreditation requirements for them have eased. With reduced staff on the floors, it is essential you have a solid working EC tour team. Your team should be multi-disciplinary and consist of members that are not only well-versed in their specialization but have a working knowledge of other evaluation areas.

Doing more with less means your team is probably also subjected to the same fast-paced environment.  Below are a few options to help your team be as efficient as possible and minimize time when completing tours.

  1. Handpick the team you feel will be the most thorough and will approach rounding in importance as if it were their own office or department.
  2. Cross-train the team prior to implementing rounds to ensure a good working knowledge of other focuses.
  3. If a staff member is consistently not available, replace him/her with another staff member that will be or have him/her designate an alternate for you.
  4. Educate staff on the floors about what you are looking for and verify they know the reporting process when they find a deficiency.
  5. Use digital automation (an EC software platform, like Soleran’s EC Tours) to maximize your tour time. Your findings are inputted in real-time which immediately starts the mitigation/repair process. Additionally, no one member of your team becomes inundated with all the findings.
  6. At the end of your EC tours, meet as a group and go over what you found. Not only does this bring awareness to the risk level of the area, but it also consistently educates others on trending findings throughout the facility.

It is essential your EC tours are not only completed to help you minimize risk within your facility but are conducted in a manner that is efficient as possible. If your team feels your EC tours are cumbersome and create more work for them, then your tours will be viewed negatively and will not be effective. Additionally, you will constantly be replacing team members because the tours ultimately provide more output above and beyond their assigned job duties.

These ideas will help you maximize your efforts and minimize risk within your facility. If you utilize the above strategies, your overall findings will initially increase then start to steadily decrease over time as your risk minimizes. Check out Soleran's EC Tours info sheet. We make facility compliance simple.

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