U.S. healthcare providers are now heaving a collective sigh of relief. As the pandemic wanes in the U.S. with COVID-19 cases decreasing each day, more hospitals are opening their doors to in-person visits, while telehealth is still a significant part of healthcare. That being said, hospitals and health systems need to focus on patient safety improvement and the old practices don’t apply anymore in such a rapidly changing environment. In a post-pandemic world, healthcare providers need to adopt practices that ensure that touches are minimized, social distancing practices are ensured, and hygiene practices are strictly maintained.
Let’s take a closer look at some practices that can boost patient safety improvement in a post-pandemic world.
Practices that help hospitals improve patient safety
Patient safety has always been one of the topmost goals of any given healthcare provider, and for good reason. If it is not ensured, then hospitals and patients both face severe consequences such as preventable medical errors, medication mixups, patient mix-ups, wrong procedures – you get the gist. All of these lead to detrimental healthcare outcomes, hospital readmissions, financial repercussions, and even deaths. As a result, ensuring patient safety and working towards its improvement must be one of the topmost priorities of responsible healthcare providers.
Let’s see some of the practices that can help hospitals with it.
Monitor patients accurately and constantly
As healthcare providers are opening their doors to patients, the latter will be admitted to hospitals for surgeries, procedures, and more. These critical patients require constant and accurate supervision.
Ensuring that all of these patients are cared for accurately and without causing any incidents drastically helps with patient safety improvement. It might be surprising but most patient safety incidents occur when the wrong medication is provided due to mix-ups, common names, etc. – all of these are preventable only if the hospital ensures positive patient identification. Identifying patients accurately ensures that the right patient is identified and that they receive proper treatment – preventing unwanted incidents, readmissions, and detrimental healthcare outcomes.
Enforce hygiene practices on everyone
Thanks to COVID-19, hygiene, social distancing, and infection control are now common concerns even among patients. For instance, if a healthcare provider does not take infection control and hygiene seriously, then it would witness a sharp fall in patient volumes – virtually everyone is now well-informed about the effects of infectious diseases. Not only that, but hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) can create outbreaks and can potentially wreak havoc in a multitude of ways.
As a result, since hospitals are the places where one person can potentially infect a large number of people, having a strong patient safety policy in place can prevent HAIs, and in turn, patient safety incidents.
The policy must be enforced on everyone – both internal and external parties. Ensure that sanitizers are placed in strategic locations, social distancing posters and signs are used where gatherings are more likely to happen, and that everyone is wearing masks properly. It goes without saying that nobody can enter the premises without masks.
Keeping surfaces clean, using disinfectants, and single-use utensils can also go a long way and must be a part of the patient safety policy. All of this, if used properly, can keep HAIs in check and help with patient safety improvement.
While that was all about hard practices, many solutions can help prevent touches, and in turn, help with infection control.
Utilize effective contactless solutions that eliminate touches entirely
Telehealth has seen huge growth during the pandemic, but that’s not the only thing boosted by the pandemic. COVID-19 forced many healthcare organizations to reinvent how they work, and that led to the demand for touchless or contactless solutions.
It’s quite simple – as patients return to hospitals, they would be quite hesitant to touch any material. The notorious virus has instilled the fear of getting infected via physical contact. As a result, many organizations are coming up with touchless solutions. However, this concept is nothing new in the healthcare space – many responsible healthcare providers have been using innovative solutions, for instance, touchless patient identification platforms that eliminate touches, reduce infection issues, and ensure patient safety in several ways.
Healthcare is evolving, and patient safety practices must change with it
As mentioned, COVID-19 has led to innovations as well as problems and concerns among healthcare experts and patients alike. However, organizations must look at these problems as opportunities and come up with new practices, solutions, or strategies to address and keep these issues at bay.
Salman Rashid is an avid reader, loves writing on healthcare issues, and loves all things related to technology, especially PCs and smartphones. He’s also a Digital Marketing Analyst at RightPatient, a platform that helps enhance patient safety across hospitals. He can be contacted at [email protected].