How Data-Driven Video Can Ease Nurse Workloads, Deliver Patient-Centric Experience

Today’s highly-integrated video technologies can make hospital staff more efficient and improve patient care in a wide variety of ways.
Published: February 27, 2023

Smart video technologies are positively impacting healthcare operations around the country. As hospitals and long-term care facilities struggle to address staffing shortages, they increasingly rely on their video systems’ intelligent capabilities to supplement staff through virtual inpatient rounding and other operations.

In 2020, an American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) journal study found that healthcare facilities that use video technology to perform virtual rounding — as well as tele-intensive care unit nursing — minimized the risks to bedside nurses while maintaining a high level of care for patients.

Similarly, Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys, which focus on staff responsiveness, the hospital environment, and care transitions to generate an overall hospital rating, show that video technology can positively impact a facility’s HCAHPS score.

The benefits of an open platform video management system (VMS) extend beyond security-related integrations by helping hospitals and staff provide appropriate care when other resources are limited. Real-time and recorded video data play an essential role in increasing and improving staff satisfaction while ensuring healthcare providers comply with regulations and credentialing bodies.

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Video monitoring has traditionally been beneficial for safeguarding patients, staff, facilities, and medical equipment. Video management systems are now routinely used to remotely monitor patients in behavioral areas, emergency departments, ICUs, and negative-pressure isolation rooms. Due to advances in video and audio analytics, robust remote connectivity, and VMS ease of use, video technologies are now also used to perform inpatient rounding and other patient-centric operational procedures.

In cases of staffing shortages, intelligent video, audio, and other AI sensors and edge devices are being deployed at hospitals and clinics as well as long-term care facilities like convalescent and retirement homes. This expanded use of video technology will become even more prevalent as resources become more strained.

VMS Solutions Provide In-Room Awareness

Patients with disabilities — which can include any range of disabilities, such as those affecting a person’s vision, hearing, movement, memory, communication ability, or mental health — have reduced mobility and an increased need for supervision and assistance. In these situations, cameras can act as a force multiplier to help healthcare providers monitor patients 24/7, particularly in this post-pandemic time when health professionals are stretched thin and nationwide staffing shortages are a big issue.

Cameras and sensors are often installed in resident rooms to help providers gain situational awareness and take fast action during emergencies, such as when a patient falls. It is important to note that most smart cameras and VMS systems offer built-in privacy masking to block out sensitive areas or situations.

Timely and intentional rounding is critical to both the patient and the staff. Virtual rounding (checking into a room virtually using video), when a patient has activated a nurse calling system or has fallen, allows nursing staff to connect with the patient quickly, acknowledge their need, and respond appropriately.

And throughout the pandemic, isolation rooms and personal protective equipment (PPE) saw a considerable uptick in use. The ability to deploy virtual rounding with patients to reduce face-to-face interactions and exposures and to conserve vital PPE supplies further supported having smart video systems in place.

Video Maximizes Staff Efficiency, Improves Patient Experience

With an open-platform VMS, healthcare facilities can improve security and operational capabilities and proactively prepare for various situations. For example, video technology can alert healthcare providers when a room is vacant and the cleaning teams can be dispatched to service the room and prepare it for the next patient. Similarly, room housekeeping can take place while the patient is away from the room for physical therapy, tests, exams, or other reasons, so the patient is not disturbed.

These proactive steps can help improve the patient experience and increase staff efficiency while understaffed. Likewise, heat mapping within a video management system can determine foot traffic patterns, enabling understaffed healthcare organizations to minimize obstacles while improving the patient experience and maximizing staff efficiency. Sound detection can alert the nursing manager to loud, consistent sounds that may interfere with the patient’s care and impact HCAHPS scores, whether during the day (perhaps with a construction project) or evenings, providing the nursing staff with more patient-centric insights.

According to the National Library of Medicine, nearly 1 million patients in the US (2% of hospitalized patients) fall annually, resulting in some 250,000 injuries and 11,000 deaths. Video management systems can use slip and fall detection sensors and software to ascertain if a patient has collapsed and needs assistance. Intelligent video analytics can determine if a patient is under duress or just resting. And if the incident registers as serious, the system can immediately alert the staff for help. An open platform VMS, together with smart video analytics and audio sensors, can also provide valuable two-way audio support, allowing healthcare providers to easily see as well as hear any activity and verbally address those in the room, providing immediate assistance.

In addition, an open platform solution can give security and IT staff access to video feeds from connected devices within the facility, including computers, tablets, or smartphones. This feature provides mobile access to security tools and cameras from anywhere on the network. An open platform VMS can tie into a hospital’s alert system to ensure compliance from regulatory bodies by sending notifications when trouble arises — whether a critical lab or pharmacy refrigerator has failed or someone has accessed an unauthorized area. By connecting mobile devices to the open platform’s access control feature, security personnel can have eyes on the scene and visually verify any event activity, even if there are no installed cameras in the area.

Systems Can Alleviate Hospital Employee Workloads

Staffing shortages within healthcare have existed for many years yet have only been highlighted in the media recently because of the strains of the pandemic. Unfortunately, these personnel shortages will not be resolved any time soon. Healthcare facilities are now understaffed and overcrowded due to staff burnout, early retirements, and the inability of universities to graduate enough students to fill these roles. Making matters worse, many people who were thinking of going into the medical field are now reconsidering their decisions.

Faced with staffing shortages as well as an ever-aging population and the potential for newer variants of COVID and other pandemics, how can healthcare providers ensure that patients are being taken care of and ensure the well-being of their staff? The good news is that the open platform video management system that a health facility’s safety and security department already has in place can be quickly expanded to provide a wide range of patient-focused and staff solutions.

The primary goal of all health facilities is to increase patient health, wellness, and satisfaction — and provide their staff with the tools and information they need to work as efficiently and effectively as possible. Until staffing can reach optimum levels, all health facility administrators and technology teams need to look closely at how today’s highly-integrated data-driven video technologies can be a significant asset in providing comprehensive patient care and some much-needed staff relief.

Mark Johnson is National Business Development Manager, Healthcare, at Milestone Systems.

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Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series