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October 17, 2017

Improve Situational Awareness in Digital Health: Perceive, Decide, Project

Clinician workload, fatigue, and task management are central to effective healthcare delivery. Often though, there isn’t a healthy balance between workload, fatigue, and task management; in fact, it is severely skewed resulting in high workload and fatigue leaving clinicians to barely juggle their daily tasks. Thus, increasing burnout and increasing potential for errors in medical practice. Considering the tremendous burden placed on clinicians to provide care and fulfill additional clinical & administrative duties, there will be slips, lapses, and errors – it’s only natural. Human error will not go away – as long as humans exists; there will be accidents and errors leaving everyone wondering why did this happen! Even the most competent and alert individuals can make errors. The classic example being ‘pilot error’ when an aviation accident occurs, even if the pilot alone is not at fault. Indeed, it is from aviation domain did emergence of human error models and mitigation techniques arose.

Whether it is patient’s room or the cockpit, Clinicians or the Pilots have to be immersed in their operational environment to establish a situational understanding. For highly skilled individuals such as Clinicians, skill-based error are very likely – simply put lapses in actions or judgments. High workload in complex environment probably increases the likelihood of (skill-based) error. So do we train Clinicians more to reduce error, penalize them when they commit an (unintentional) error? Going back to aviation example, in the wake of errors, pilots are retrained to mitigate future errors and loopholes are closed. However, there is something else within aviation that reduces probability of errors – the use of automation and technology to complement pilot performance, increase situational awareness, and reduce workload.

Traditionally, healthcare has lagged in technological adoption in manners similar to other safety-critical industries. But newer-generation technologies can empower Clinicians to be situationally aware and respond to patient problems. The crux being, if we can enable Clinicians to be aware of patient state of health, build redundancy to catch errors or help reduce workload, then we are improving Clinician performance and patient safety.

Patient Situational Awareness

For example, if an aircraft system fails or if the aircraft is unexpectedly approaching terrain then visual and aural warnings alert pilots to take corrective measures. Similarly, if we can enhance situation awareness for clinicians both inside and outside the Facility, then we can truly develop a greater picture of patient status, temporally rather than just during a hospital stay. Technology can enable us to augment situation awareness for management of care across the continuum. Telemedicine as it is practiced today is one step towards a path for enhancing situational awareness; however, going beyond telemedicine, we must look toward other technologies that offer continuous and real-time monitoring in the extended healthcare space – the home, the office, etc.


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DocToDoor is a custom branded Telehealth solution designed to empower physicians to manage care through the entire care continuum for post-visit, chronic care, and post-op recovery. We are empowering physicians with user-centric remote patient monitoring & engagement and telemedicine platform to manage and care for patients through the entire breadth of patient-provider relationship.


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