Patient wristbands convey essential information to hospital staff and help facilitate appropriate care. But, how do you find a wristband system that satisfies both the patient and medical staff’s needs and eliminate HIPAA and patient safety issues? Here’s a solution one hospital developed that addressed those challenges and improved their overall process.
The hospital, is one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive specialty pediatric hospitals. With 500 beds, six building and more than 3.5 million patient encounters annually, they are consistently named as the best children’s hospital in their region, and among the top in the nation.
However, the millions of patient encounters provided an opportunity for improvement, starting with the admission process. So, they turned to RR Donnelley to devise a new wristband solution that:
- Improved the patient experience
- Made applying 3 barcodes to wristbands easier for the IT staff
- Improved the HIPAA Compliance process
- Reduced the instances of bacteria formation on wristbands
- Avoided new cost expenditures by utilizing current printer resources
- Controlled costs
Enabling Patient And Staff Communication
A wristband drives communication throughout a patient’s hospital stay. From name, age and other patient details to the type and time to administer medications, it helps facilitate effective care. But, the hospital found their current wristband process had a few challenges.
- 70% of children have a fall risk. Using the wristband to alert staff to that risk is essential, without adding an additional wristband
- Patient information, medications and treatments require barcodes, all placed on the wristband
- The hospital’s current admission system printed both wristbands and medical records information together. But, the medical records information wasn’t always used
- Upon admission, multiple wristbands were printed for each patient. Typically, some bands went unused before discharge
- The hospital had an installed base of laser printers
A Holistic Solution
The hospital partnered with RR Donnelley to develop a wristband solution that improved the patient experience, medical staff interaction and better met HIPAA guidelines all while utilizing their current printing infrastructure.
Working with a committed group 18 nurses from various disciplines, such as ER, NeoNatal and Labor and Delivery, RR Donnelley analyzed the wrist branding process throughout the hospital system. They identified a variety of issues:
- The current wristband design often couldn’t accommodate the various barcodes and other alerts required for patients
- When a wristband was printed for a patient, companion labels were also generated. This caused concerns over patient privacy and created disposal challenges
- The hospital used laser printers. During the admission process an entire sheet containing four wristbands was printed. At least one wristband would often go unused. Like the medical records information, this created concerns over patient privacy and created disposal challenges
- Although thermal printing could eliminate some of the issues, the cost to convert to a different printing process was prohibitive
As a result, RR Donnelley came up with a solution that improved the patient experience, adhered better to HIPAA standards and utilized the embedded laser printer base to save money.
The new wristband design provided numerous benefits:
- It created substantially more space for the numerous barcodes, alerts and patient photos necessary for effective patient care
- The laser sheet included different size bands that worked for either an adult or child. The band was also multipurpose. When necessary, it served as a luggage tag
- Because the band was lighter, patients found the band more comfortable to wear
- There is no fold over film which created fewer pockets for water and bacteria to collect
- The new system led to fewer instances of unused wristbands. However, sometimes there were surplus bands. Previously, when wristbands went unused, they could only be destroyed using a straight line shredder. The new design works in a cross cut shredder which made the process simpler and eliminated HIPAA concerns
- The laser sheet design allowed the hospital to utilize their current laser printers, avoiding the substantial cost of procuring new print devices
RR Donnelley developed and implemented a wristband solution that improved patient care, reduced HIPAA concerns and saved money. It provided patients, both adults and children, a more comfortable wristband that they could wear without disruption during their stay. In addition, they eliminated the need for a second wristband that warned for fall risks which improved the patient experience and saved money.