News & Media

Tech Bullion: Nurse Burnout and Alarm Fatigue – The Role AI Can Play

News & Media

Tech Bullion: Nurse Burnout and Alarm Fatigue – The Role AI Can Play

via Tech Bullion, by Amelia Jacob


Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry. They work long hours and face many challenges daily. One of the most sizeable contributors to nurse burnout is alarm fatigue. This is when nurses become overwhelmed and/or desensitized by the number of alarms they are receiving and, therefore, miss or even ignore them. This can be dangerous for both nurses and patients alike.


With an average of 771 alerts per bed per day in the ICU, 81% of nurses report there are too many alarms. What is astonishing is that 85-99% of these alarms are false positives or clinically insignificant. A cacophony of noise that negatively impacts everyone in the ICU, nurses, doctors, patients, and caregivers. There are a wide variety of devices in each ICU room that generate alarms, designed to aid caregivers in critical environments. Unfortunately, the combination of all these devices and overly conservative settings with critically ill patients leads to an environment of overwhelming alarms that negatively impact everyone.


Because clinical alarms are fundamental to caring for patients, many healthcare leaders underestimate their significance to clinical care delivery, or worse, accept the current state as a reasonable status quo. However, one clinical study showed that nurses spend 35% of their time dealing with alarms! Nurses are already time-constrained and understaffed. Most pursued careers in nursing to care for patients, not manage equipment or silence alarms, adding another burden on an already stressful work environment. The nursing workforce is experiencing unprecedented challenges, with 60% burnout and over 25% turnover. Over-alarming is an issue that needs to be addressed today.


Alarm fatigue is a longstanding issue spanning decades and demands resolution. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed many problems and inefficiencies in critical care environments, alarm fatigue is just one of them. Fortunately, technology has rapidly advanced and matured in the past few years, giving rise to an opportunity to disrupt this space and drive long-needed change. By leveraging advanced artificial intelligence solutions, in combination with prior clinical playbooks demonstrating successful approaches, hospitals can start incorporating system-wide changes that can make a massive impact.


Transparent AI in healthcare provides explainability that empowers clinicians with the option to examine each recommendation before implementation. Observing the rationale behind each AI-generated step enhances the healthcare system’s safety, accuracy, and accountability. One key area where transparent AI can play an essential role in healthcare is to objectively improve nurse retention and patient outcomes by reducing alarm fatigue in intensive care units. Transparent AI ingests hospital data and provides clinicians with a holistic view of the information to make the most informed and safe decisions regarding alarm management and patient care. AI can ingest multiple vital sign devices at the same time, medications, and other critical patient data to provide insights and data-informed recommendations never thought possible. Vital signs signals are a steady, high-frequency source of data traffic that, with the help of AI solutions, can be a great source of information to make more informed decisions throughout healthcare delivery. Transparent AI can reduce non-actionable alarms by as much as 83 percent when compared to the same number of manual alarm limit adjustments.


A prime example of Transparent AI is CalmWave, who leverages the technology to solve the problem of alarm fatigue in ICUs. The AI technology from CalmWave presents objective solutions that reduce non-actionable alarms by providing proper alarm management insight to the caregiver, thereby decreasing alarm fatigue, excessive cognitive load, and burnout. CalmWave is focused on improving the lives of patients and providers. Their mission is to address alarm fatigue and eliminate non-actionable alarms, bringing more stable and quieter ICUs. Alarm fatigue, which is endemic in the modern healthcare system, causes great stress for providers, their patients, and their families, ultimately impacting patient outcomes and staff retention. The CalmWave platform remediates alarm fatigue, improves staff retention, and transforms Operations Health through data science and AI.


By fixing alarms, we can also directly impact a challenge everyone feels today, nurse burnout. Digital health, AI-based technology is finally mature enough to create a safer and healthier work environment for everyone, nurses, doctors, patients, and caregivers.

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