Understanding Risks to Patient Safety
Patient Safety Awareness Week is an annual recognition event designed to advance the importance about patient safety. Not every case of harm results in death, yet they can cause long-term impact on the patient’s physical health, emotional health, financial well-being, or family relationships.
Risks to patient (and caregiver) safety are related to the increased complexity of health issues covered in the home and a general lack of training to manage them, according to a report from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Hospitals and other health settings represent more of a controlled environment. In-home care is more challenging due to issues related to physical space and socioeconomic differences. Medication errors – as well as other problems with medication use – also represent a significant source of harm for home health patients; these errors are especially prevalent within a few weeks after discharge. Unintentional falls are also a concern for patients receiving care in their home.
The Joint Commission recently shared its 2020 National Patient Safety Goals for accredited home care entities as follows:
- Identify patients correctly
- Use medicines safely
- Prevent infection
- Prevent patients from falling
- Identify patient safety risks
Engaging Patients with Virtual Care
Focusing on patient safety – by improving the timing and quality of care – can help prevent adverse drug events (ADEs), infections, and falls, and effectively reduce rehospitalizations. Home health agencies are using Synzi’s virtual care communication platform to help patients become better informed and inspired to stay safe and on track with their treatment plans:
- Informed: Home health staff can use virtual visits to inform a patient of the rationale for the new treatment plan medication, convey the routine prescribed for adherence, and provide tips to reduce the risk of falling. Instead of providing MTM via telephone or expending time and expense to drive to a patient’s home, a pharmacist can also be included in a virtual visit to reinforce the optimal use of the correct medications via video or secure messaging.
- Inspired: Patients can receive a scheduled cadence of email or text messages regarding their condition and how/when to use medications safely. Messaging can also reinforce everyday tips to prevent falls inside and outside the home.
With a virtual care communication platform, your staff can proactively (and continually) address risks to patient safety and improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.