More often than not, when a patient in very poor condition starts to exhibit declining health and worsening symptoms, they go down a rapid, painful spiral that, if not stopped early on, can quickly result in death. It’s an unfortunate phenomenon, but one care providers need to be very familiar with in order to prevent it. It was this need to catch patients before they start deteriorating that ultimately led to healthcare facilities, even those such as non-intensive units that don’t usually deal with these cases, to adopt a rapid response system.

Odds are you’ve likely seen cases where rapid response systems are necessary portrayed on any number of popular shows and movies. These are the moments where the patient takes a sudden turn, all the beeps are beeping, and a team of healthcare specialists flood the room and do whatever they can to stabilize their patient. And, despite how chaotic and hopeless many pieces of media may make it look, rapid response systems have actually resulted in incredible improvements in patient mortality for the facilities that have adopted them. 

According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Austin Hospital saw a 37% reduction in mortality and a 65% drop in cardiac arrests in patients who have undergone invasive treatment. Impressive and promising to say the very least.

So, say your facility is enticed by these results and wants to incorporate a rapid response system of its own. What’s needed to take the program off the ground and, more importantly, how do medical computer systems prove themselves to be essential in their ideation and execution? The answer to both of these questions, as always, needs to start with a concrete definition of what a Rapid Response System is and requires to be effective. 

What is a Rapid Response System?

A rapid response system is a system set in place designed to quickly respond to patients who are exhibiting early signs of clinical deterioration. These programs are implemented in both intensive and non-intensive care units and are designed to prevent respiratory or cardiac arrest, both of which will commonly occur if a patient begins to rapidly deteriorate. 

A fully realized rapid response system has two key components that make it up. 

The Afferent Component

The afferent component of a rapid response system refers to all of the internal tools used to track patient vitals and send out alerts if they reach a dangerous threshold. This component can include everything from the medical device computer used to record these vitals to the software and hardware used to contact a nearby physician or nurse.

Most commonly, afferent components work on a track and trigger system, where patient vitals are continuously monitored and, once their values drop to a certain point, that will trigger an alarm system or a contacting of a caregiver who can attempt to stabilize.  

The Efferent Component 

The efferent component of a rapid response system, on the other hand, refers to everything that takes place outside of those tracking devices during an emergency situation. This mainly refers to the multidisciplinary team on deck ready to stabilize patients who have entered a critical state. 

A healthcare facility’s rapid response team could include several people depending on what’s historically been needed by that facility. They will always, however, involve a physician, their assisting nurse, and a respiratory nurse as well since these cases will often involve cardiac or respiratory failure.  

For the purposes of this topic, we’ll be discussing the afferent component of a rapid response system. More specifically, we will be covering the medical grade computer and how its multi-functionality can aid facilities in building, maintaining, and improving a rapid response program.

Streamlined Note Taking

We’ve mentioned before that the note taking process for nurses and doctors can often be a hassle to say the very least. This is because a user will have to meticulously log in several times a day for each software or program they use to maintain a record on a patient. This is already plenty debilitating, but it becomes even more so when dealing with a rapid response scenario.

Studies have shown that a patient’s deterioration can occur within hours of any change in their level of care. Now, consider a nurse or physician who needs to watch after a patient for hours for signs of deterioration. They’re often tasked with recording a number of different things including, but not limited to, a patient’s willingness to adhere to treatment, their vulnerability to unfavorable outcomes, the level of complexity in the patient’s body or support systems, and more. It becomes quite easy to see just how stress-inducing having to log in several times to record those notes can be. Even worse, having to perform these repeated logins when dealing with a patient whose condition needs to be monitored in a very timely, responsive manner, can open up the door to making mistakes on their patient record. 

Thankfully, medical computers with RFID scanning or an RFID tablet can allow staff to quickly log into their programs with  the swipe of a badge, making the login process last only a moment as opposed to the several seconds that add up over time.

Those looking to go even further can implement single sign on solutions with Imprivata certified identity authentication hardware. Doing so can make the login process much easier by only requiring nurses to log in once in order to gain authentication to all of the programs and apps they use throughout their shift.     

Lightweight Mobility

Rapid response teams, like we mentioned, are composed of a group of specialists that can include everything from an airway manager and circulation manager to a crash cart manager, and more. All of these specialists perform their part in keeping the patient alive and require their own set of specialized equipment. 

The last thing your rapid response team needs is clunky, heavy machinery that’ll slow them down when rushing to the patient’s room. A lightweight medical cart computer with its own battery power, however, can eliminate the need for battery powered carts that can weigh exponentially more and be difficult to quickly push through crowded hospital hallways.

Even more importantly, these lightweight solutions can be a godsend for Data Managers, the members of a rapid response team that need to obtain patient charts and record interventions and test results as they’re happening in real time. More so than any other member on that team, data managers need a lightweight solution that streamlines the login process. Most importantly, they need a device that’s also IE60601-1 certified whose electromagnetic signals won’t jeopardize the operation of all the other specialized equipment being brought in to save a deteriorating patient’s life.       

Dependable Battery Life

According to Healthcare Innovation Group, 48% of the time rapid response was necessary, signs of patient deterioration were evident in the preceding 24 hours. This goes to show just how closely vitals and signs need to be monitored because, as scary as it can sound, patient situations can turn at any moment and for a number of reasons. Investing in hardware that can help you achieve round-the-clock monitoring means no indicators of deterioration that can occur in those 24 hours can slip past your response team. 

Self-powered medical monitors with hot-swappable batteries can remain powered on for multiple shifts without needing to be completely turned off. Better yet, with each monitor being able to sport multiple batteries and capable of remaining on as long as a single one of those batteries are still inserted, staff can preemptively switch out depleted batteries without their devices needing to be turned off for even a minute. This allows for physicians and staff to have access to life saving devices and data throughout their entire shift and at the ready for a patient emergency.  

A Rapid Response System Requires Tech-Based Innovation

Rapid response treatment is all about time. Shortening the time it takes to log notes and wheel in life-saving machinery, and lengthening the time those machines can be used to treat and also draw valuable insights through patient monitoring. Before getting a team of specialists together, always ensure you have the hardware necessary to allow those professionals to do their jobs and save some lives. For more information on the kind of hardware you’ll need to build up your own rapid response system, contact an expert from Cybernet today.