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Alert fatigue: Are clinical surveillance tools making it any better?

A new KLAS study of 10 vendors who provide clinical surveillance tools, with alerts, found that the technology can save lives, prevent readmissions and improve workflow.

That is at least one small piece of welcome news for IT shops and the clinicians they support, who are widely understood to be overrun by medical alerts.


Embedded alerts have created a state of alert fatigue for many users — but these new findings make it evident that the risk of alert fatigue might be worth it.


Clinical surveillance products are fairly new and use detection algorithms informed by a patient’s EHR, lab results, monitoring devices, and other sources. Currently, most organizations are using these products to monitor and alert for possible cases of sepsis, KLAS said.

KLAS studies the following vendors: Bernoulli, Cerner, Epic, Stanson Health, Ambient Clinical Analytics, Iatric Systems, MEDITECH, PeraHealth, Philips and Wolters Kluwer.

Many of these organizations have also expanded the use of their clinical surveillance technology to monitor for other problems, including fall risks, potential for readmission, preventive treatments and best practices.

“As this field continues to mature and users find new uses for these solutions, the utility experienced by the early adopters will continue to grow and will increase organizations’ ability to deliver better patient care overall,” KLAS said.

Last July, we reported that ECRI Institute’s Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety identified ways technology can reduce and eliminate errors from diagnostic testing and medication mix-ups.

ECRI suggested improving data transmission by using standards for formatting results, reporting actionable findings to include priority and timing via standards, creating recognizable icons for alerts and notifications in EHRs, making diagnostic results easier to communicate, using existing EHR functionality to automate notifications, optimizing alerts to reduce fatigue, and communicating diagnostic finding directly to patients.

KLAS conducts the study annually, which includes interviews thousands of healthcare professionals about the products and services their organizations use, in addition to supplemental evaluations.

Diana Manos is a Washington, D.C.-area freelance writer specializing in healthcare, wellness and technology. 
Twitter: @Diana_Manos
Email the writer: [email protected]

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