Heather Annolino

The coronavirus drastically altered the delivery of healthcare over the past year, especially for resident care facilities.

These organizations were faced with the challenge of managing ongoing care while needing to adjust procedures and processes to fit their communities’ needs, including lower than usual nurse-resident ratios, which ultimately increased residents’ risks. 

Resident and risk management leaders will need to continue addressing ongoing disruptions across the industry due to the virus.

According to the Joint Commission, the top 2021 resident safety care goals are to: 

  1. Improve the accuracy of resident identification
  2. Improve the safety of medication administration
  3. Reduce risks of healthcare-associated infections
  4. Reduce residents from falling 
  5. Prevent bed sores 

This list of risks may seem like basic events resident facilities need to address, however, as we continue to progress through the pandemic (from its spread to vaccination), many facilities still face challenges from the coronavirus. Those include staffing shortages related to burnout and capacity issues, and revenue impact. 

To address these care priority improvements and the continued risks associated with the coronavirus, facilities must embrace highly connective and collaborative risk management systems to provide an environment free from harm. This requires a system that can capture, track and analyze data in real-time to enhance processes that will mitigate future risks and address gaps in longstanding processes. 

Using a centralized reporting tool, resident safety and risk management teams can make enhanced decisions to continually drive operational efficiencies, while removing any biases to reduce risks across their community. This can enhance processes and provide health leaders with the correct data needed to confidently shape and execute a tactical plan to mitigate new and historical resident safety risks. 

Here are three ways centralized systems using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics can help streamline processes:

Advanced analytics

Using AI and predictive analytics, facilities can take large, seemingly random data sets and organize them to uncover hidden patterns and trends. This data is then converted into actionable insights based on fact-based queries to identify trends that aren’t influenced by personal biases — allowing resident safety/risk management teams to have complete insight into crucial factors before and after the event.   

Event reporting and investigation

Without this insight, facilities will have incomplete data sets and cannot address the root cause of the event. Using a centralized event reporting and investigation tool, facilities can quickly and easily report incidents to improve their understanding of risk occurrences and elevate the facilities’ safety culture. 

Root cause analysis and action planning

These capabilities explore and display possible causes of a specific event, allowing investigators and team members to focus on multiple root causes as there is often more than one that leads to a single incident. This tool also helps create data-focused statements, and action plans based on root causes, contributing factors, medical records, interviews, and other essential information gathered throughout the investigation to develop a thorough timeline of the event. This improves an organization’s access to information throughout.

For example, the risks associated with falls at healthcare facilities are high. Using data insights gathered through an integrated resident safety tool, organizations can focus their resources on enhancing improvements to reduce falls by predicting the event’s critical indicators. As a result, this will further reduce risks and costs associated with the risk. 

The process begins by identifying the actions which commonly proceed a fall. The use of AI further refines the organization’s understanding of the drivers and costs of falls by specifying the event’s influences, including critical timing associated with resident falls and even analyzing free-text descriptions from the report entered into the system. Together, these modules’ connectivity can assist risk and resident safety managers in creating and applying focused interventions from the event to reduce its occurrence. 

Perpetuating a strong culture of safety in this next phase of the pandemic requires leadership’s commitment to achieving its goal using a central resident safety solution to capture adverse events. With a centralized reporting tool, facilities can break down departmental silos and bring data together to continually identify opportunities to drive operational efficiencies and improve their response to risks. 

Heather Annolino, RN, MBA, CPHRM, is senior director of healthcare practice at Ventiv, where she plays an integral part in developing patient safety solutions. She has more than 25 years of healthcare experience, serving in various roles focused on addressing risk management and patient safety.