Healthcare

Automating Incident Management and Reporting in Healthcare

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October 18, 2022

Incident reporting is a vital aspect of a healthcare practice. Nurses and health administrators are responsible for documenting and reporting incidents while caring for patients. 

So many things happen in the healthcare facility daily. Therefore, you need to create systems to enable a smooth transfer of information between nurses and other relevant medical personnel. 

A healthcare event or incident is primarily unfavorable, from a patient injury to equipment failure to medical error. 

Therefore incident reporting is an integral part of risk management within the healthcare setting. Proper medical incidence reporting gives room for prompt resolution by the relevant department.

As a healthcare manager, you should pay more attention to the incident reporting processes within your organization, seeing that it is one of the proactive measures you can take towards better patient outcomes. 

The list of incidence that needs reporting is limitless. But the key to efficient incidence reporting is keeping it straightforward. Automation is essential to achieve simplicity in complicated tasks like incidence reporting, 

Automation helps you streamline your incidence reporting task, especially when the reports require the attention of many departments in the facility. As we read on, we will delve more into the importance of Automation in incidence reporting and the steps to go about it.

What is an "incident"?

An incident is a situation whereby something out of the ordinary occurs in a healthcare facility. Vague as this definition may be, that's the general idea around incidents in healthcare. Different hospitals have different standards to measure what qualifies as an incident. 

Here are some categories of incidents in healthcare that might fall. 

  • When a medication error occurs, your patient took the wrong pill or missed their medication.
  •  Medical devices malfunction with a need for repair or replacement 
  •  Patients complain about their treatment experience at the hospital.
  •  When someone, patient, visitor, or nurse experiences an injury. Or when a potentially dangerous situation is detected.

Incident reporting is discretionary. Your nurses/administrator should look for anything out of the ordinary. Nurses should be encouraged to report even their mistakes as need be. 

Encourage them to be objective in their judgment and ask, "Should the doctor or facility manager know this"? With use, your nurses will sharpen their discretion on what qualifies as an incident and efficiently carry out their incident reporting duties. 

Importance of Incident Reporting 

Incident reporting helps improve the quality of patient care in your facility. This is because incident reporting seeks to enhance your facility's workflow. Here are some ways incident reporting is essential in a healthcare facility. 

  1. Incident reporting improves safety for all healthcare participants. The main reason incident reporting exists is to ensure that everyone interacting with the healthcare facility (patients, staff, community, and facility) can live in a safe environment. 
  2. Incident reporting shows staff commitment to putting their patient first rather than just following hospital protocols.
  3. Every incident in your facility has a reason. To avoid a recurrence, you must first understand the cause of the incident. Incident reporting aids identification of the root cause. A detailed incident report will contain the related events that led to the incidence. 
  4. As you analyze this series of events, you can quickly determine whether inadequate staffing, poor communication, inconsistent procedures, or a combination of all is the root cause of the medical incident. 
  5. Nurses, for instance, who spend more time with patients, are the ones with first-hand information touching critical happenings in the ward that affect their health. Incident reporting helps a smooth transfer of these updates to relevant departments in the facilities. 
  6. There is no better way to show staff commitment to improvement and growth than by showing seriousness with incident reporting. 
  7. Incident reporting also helps reduce costs. More often, fatal incidents are preceded by more minor incidents. These fatal incidents can, in turn, lead to legal litigation and compliance violations. Having to deal with these can harm your facility's finances. 
  8. Your best bet is to take more minor incidents seriously by encouraging detailed incident reporting within the facility. 
  9. When incident reports are fresh (as it happens), it is the most accurate and reliable reference for future decision-making.

Benefits of Automating incident reporting 

  1. Automating incident reporting provides the following benefits to your facility. 
  2. It creates consistency in reporting processes. An objective template on how to present a report helps reduce redundancy. Irrelevant information such as blame and hearsay have little likelihood of being included in such a result.
  3. Enhance real-time information sharing between administrators and departments concerned with specific incidents. On a cloud-based system, multiple users can access and contribute to the same information in real-time. That is incidents that require prompt response can get even immediate assistance. 
  4. By automating incident reporting in your facility, you can quickly analyze reports and take proactive and preventive steps to avoid escalation into a more severe event. 
  5. It provides a quick and accurate way of reporting. Also, automating and removing paper eliminates the risk of differing and duplicated reports. 

Steps to Automate Incident Management Process

Create your incident management workflow

Incident management workflow might differ from one healthcare organization to another. But it is essential to create a process and workflow that 

1. Identifies and access the medical incident

2. Prioritizes response to the incident

3. Resolves or contains the incident 

4. Adapt future procedures to help mitigate future risk. 

The best way to create your unique incident management workflow is to get ideas and contributions from your nurses, staff, managers, and everyone involved in the reporting process. This would help you create a simple automated system that would be easy for the users. 

Standardize Root Cause analysis

Then you need to create a process for analyzing the root cause and prioritizing the root cause. The defined process will provide an objective methodology for evaluating risk and prioritizing response. 

You can prioritize response based on how it affects your patient's health, your departments, and your employees. 

Automate Repeated Actions

For instance, if an incidence of a medical device failure is reported. That report should be routed to the IT department to give them real-time access to that information. This way, they can accurately assess and respond to the situation. 

Integrate Alerts and Notifications

One critical step in automating incident reporting is to have an accessible communication channel among all parties involved in the incident reporting workflow. Your automation system must provide an easy way for nurses, doctors, staff, and administrators to communicate. 

Integrating alerts and notifications into your incident management system will enable team members and the relevant parties to provide a speedy response to the incident.

Create a Centralized Database 

You need to create a central database to make your incident management system work seamlessly. This is probably the most important of all steps outlined above. Using a central database enables easy logging of reports. 

It also routes each message to relevant departments for real-time assessment and response. 

Also, a central database makes it easy to access real-time reports, incidents and information anytime you need. 

Conclusion 

The incident management process can be difficult and time-consuming. If your incident management system has no automation layer, then you are doing the same amount of work you would have done on paper on an application. 

Because healthcare facilities follow different models and procedures for reporting, customizing your incident reporting system is essential to fit perfectly into your needs and processes. 

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