Home Visit Safety Guidelines for Practitioners.
Owner Health prides itself on making health professional safety its highest priority. Although mobile healthcare via home visits are generally very safe, we remain focussed on improving the experience via cutting-edge technology and practical guidelines that benefit both patient and provider.
Increasingly in Australia and elsewhere, health professionals like me visit several patients at their residences on a daily basis. Unlike traditional clinic surroundings, practitioners must cope with new and unfamiliar environments in isolation. This presents specific challenges, even risks, for the mobile operator.
You should be able to immediately implement the suggestions presented.
1. Smart Button and GPS.
A cool way to promote and maintain safety is by using the increasingly popular Flic button:
Flic is a wireless Bluetooth “smart” button that can rest on the practitioner's belt buckle. It's easy to setup and allows you to program functions based on: One Press, Double Press, and Hold.
There are heaps of functions available, including: email, phone, alarm, and Global Positioning System (GPS) SMS messaging, which we use here at Owner Health.
To illustrate, when a practitioner clicks the button, it sends an SMS to another phone with the message “Help, I'm in trouble” with the current GPS location. It also has an alarm. Of course, you must be certain that you are sending the message to the right person.
For example, you may want a notification when the practitioner has exited an appointment. It can also connect with the free web-based service IFTTT (https://ifttt.com/), so the options are endless.
Watch the video below
2. Phone Calls.
We require that all practitioners call their patients before the first appointment, and advise that they complete a pre-appointment assessment before proceeding further. The calls should be well-structured and detailed to ensure they are fully prepared for the appointment.
These are important bits of information that contribute greatly to successful service.
The pre appointment phone call can be a good way to determine the suitability of a home visit for this patient. You can discuss their injury and get a gauge on their character.
3. Practitioner Set-up Location.
In the past, I admit to rarely thinking about the home environment I was about to enter. After all, I'm a big tall guy, so why should I worry, right? However, a doctor recently reminded me that not all mobile practitioners can rely on their size and strength if things go wrong, and gave me some very important advice that applies whether working mobile or in a clinic:
You will typically setup the bed in the chosen room, so choose the location carefully. As mentioned above, position yourself toward the exit in case the patient gets unruly (see next section).
4. Partner/Therapy Assessment.
Unfortunately, mobile practitioners sometimes run into difficult patients. Often times, there are no easy ways around it, and all your training may not be enough to salvage the situation.
In such extreme cases, healthcare providers are within their rights to withdraw care if they feel unsafe. Personal safety always comes first, even for health professionals whose primary goal is to help others.
An alternative strategy in certain cases is to bring in a therapy assistant who follows the patient's progress and serves as a buffer during analysis and treatment. You could also request that a caregiver or family member be present throughout the appointment.
What do you do to make the mobile health practitioner environment safer? Do you have a favourite technology that could be useful to other allied health professionals?
If you have any suggestions, please bring them to our attention.
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