Fireside chat with Caroline Prouse

Alert Management Investigations

Most healthcare technologies—be they Patient Administration systems, Stock Ordering systems in pharmacies, or smart intravenous infusion pumps/ cardiac monitoring devices—provide auditory or visual warnings to clinicians to prevent or act on unsafe situations. These warnings are well intended and in isolation may be helpful. However, in the current highly computerised clinical environment, an individual clinician interacts with many different alert-generating devices—meaning that every day, clinicians are on the receiving end of a staggering number of alerts.


The term ‘alert fatigue’ describes how busy workers (and - in the case of healthcare - clinicians) become desensitised to safety alerts and, as a result, ignore or fail to respond appropriately to such warnings. This phenomenon occurs because of the sheer number of alerts and it is compounded by the fact that most alerts generated are clinically low-level warnings (depending on where the patient is being treated) — meaning that in most cases these are for information only, rather than requiring intervention.


The problem is that clinicians then ignore both the bothersome, clinically low-level alarms and the critical alerts that warn of impending serious patient harm, thus, nullifying the aid of the clinical checking and alerts generated to inform the prescribing event.  With this situation in mind, the team at FDB are keen to support clinical users in investigating and developing a solution to help remedy the impact.


As part of our research and definition phase, the team at FDB have been liaising with clinical end user groups, as well as vendor partners to better understand potential requirements of a system that will allow NHS Trusts and CCGs to customise the warnings and alerts shown in the clinical workflow.  Part of this investigation has been some market research into how other organisations have approached this problem (world-wide).  This includes reviewing the solutions that our colleagues at FDB in the US and Canada have developed to help tackle alert fatigue in the US clinical market. 


The UK product team are progressing with market engagement and are keen to gather feedback from vendor partners and clinical users to inform the design and definition of the solution that we look to develop. 


If you would like to work with us, or provide us with feedback on this area, then please do not hesitate in getting in contact with Caroline Prouse, Product Manager for Multilex.