A case study explored alarm usage before and after the implementation of Collette Health’s virtual observation services within a healthcare system that chose to remain unspecified.
Patient Safety Means Staff Supplementation
With the current state of healthcare, organizations are more and more commonly facing nurse shortages due to the nation’s rapidly aging baby boomer population, soaring costs, government regulations, all in the post-global pandemic environment that has worsened the state of healthcare. It is projected that by 2027,more than 600,000 nurses may leave their profession. But for those who choose to stay, burnout is a dire reality and can point to lower patient satisfaction rates. When nursing departments are understaffed, not only are call lights left are left unanswered, and patient safety is an immediate concern when no one comes. Too often patients attempt to leave their beds unassisted, risking a fall. The main cause of patient injury and even death is a fall, with approximately 1 million inpatient falls occurring annually in the United States.
The presence of clinicians is needed to prevent patient falls and other adverse events. A solution like Collette Health’s virtual patient observation can be essential for understaffed facilities.
A hospital system that preferred anonymity for this case study was utilizing services like those of Collette Health’s and found concerns with their outcomes. This large health system had a real need for effective observation solutions.
The Problem: Bedside Alarm Frequency
If a remote patient observer witnesses an urgent situation within a patient’s room, they can activate a bedside alarm to alert local staff. This alarm should only be used in emergency situations. Such situations may include a patient attempting to leave their bed unassisted, or if a patient is experiencing a medical event, for example. But at the unnamed healthcare system, remote observers were activating the alarm with so much frequency that it became too much for the onsite staff to handle. This may have been largely due to a lack of video connectivity between the observers and the patients.
Immediately after Collette Health’s implementation, this system’s virtual observers were activating the alarm 60% more frequently than the average Collette Health client.
The Solution: Persistent Video for More Attentive Virtual Care
The large hospital system and elected to switch its services to Collette Health’s product. Collette Health is currently the only virtual patient observation solution that offers a persistent video connection between the patient and their observer. This means that the video connection between the two parties is always on. With just the click of a button, the observer can appear on screen at the patient’s bedside for immediate face-to-face communication. No calling is required, and patients receive the quick and personal connection that is vital in emergencies and helps sitters to establish strong relationships with patients and their families, as well. The two-way audio and video feature makes it easier for virtual observers to communicate with patients and reduces their need for the bedside alarm.
Upon Collette Health’s implementation, the hospital saw a 25% reduction in bedside alarm usage within 30 days. The immediate and significant drop in alarm usage meant fewer local staff interruptions. Since installing Collette Health, remote observers have been able to unburden onsite clinicians through their attentive care.
“Our nurses have a lot to handle. They do not have time to be answering alarms constantly—especially for non-emergent situations. Collette Health has really helped us to preserve our time by handling patient issues through video communication. It has been tremendously helpful.”
—Health System Representative
Proactive Patient Care Saves Clinician Time
Patients and their families alike respond positively to Collette Health’s virtual monitoring presence. While fall rates decrease overall when Collette Health is employed, high-risk patients especially benefit from continued 24/7 monitoring. Having a Collette Health observer as a liaison between staff and patients allows for continuous supervision and direct communication and direct communication if a patient becomes uncomfortable or restless or shows signs of wanting to depart their bed. When this occurs, an observer can speak to the patient via the two-way audio system to ask them to wait for immediate assistance from their nurse onsite, while contacting that nurse for help. The nurse can then visit the patient in person and intercede.
Good Catches Create Clinician Confidence
Virtual observers at one healthcare system that employed Collette Health’s solutions earlier this year shared situations during their monitoring periods in which they were able to successfully assist patients with what is known as a Good Catch. A Good Catch is known in healthcare as a situation where adverse events like a patient fall are successfully avoided, or unsteady patient reactions to situations like awakening in a strange place are prevented from escalating due to action taken by a virtual observer.
These real-life Good Catches are each representative of situations that occur multiple times daily within healthcare facilities. Oftentimes, help from a virtual observer such as those with Collette Health who are present via two-way video can resolve issues without the need for a clinician to assist in person and thus save time. But most always, assistance from a virtual observer with Collette Health can prevent falls and other unsafe situations for patients.
- “Patient attempted to get off the bed. Verbal reorientation worked and patient went back to bed.”
- “Patient removed all of the bandage covering her IV and was trying to remove the IV. PSO (patient safety observer) called the nurse, and she came and let the patient know that she must leave the IV because it is for her medications.”
- “The patient tried to remove their clothes and the IV became entangled. PSO called the nurse immediately.”
- “Patient woke up really anxious and yelling. PSO talked to the patient and told her everything is fine and that we are taking care of her. Patient went back to sleep peacefully and safe.”
- “Patient was saying hello or [indicating] something was hurting. Asked with speaker translator in German to raise hand if needed nurse and she did it, so nurse was called.”
As nursing shortages continue due to post-pandemic economic recovery, staff burnout, market and employer changes, and our aging population, healthcare clinicians will be at risk for being overworked and the need for staff augmentation will continue for healthcare systems across the country. Collette Health offers a cost-effective solution that eases the strain on clinicians’ time and efforts while improving working conditions and patient safety.
 “A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care,” Journal of Patient Safety. September 2013.