Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers are the eyes and ears of your safety program. Outdated technology, however, can sabotage even the best of intentions. How many incidents go unreported if, for instance, a nurse runs out of time before he is able to hunt down a paper form or figure out confusing technology? And what happens if that nurse does manage to report the incident, but sees no action taken? Patient safety suffers, to be sure – but it’s also hard for a safety culture to take root under those conditions.

Modern incident reporting software helps cultivate a safety culture by making it quick and easy to report incidents – then turn that information into actions that make a visible difference in patient outcomes. Here’s how:

Express entry. Incident reporting software uses intuitive, survey-style questionnaires with auto-filled fields, barcode scanning capabilities, and picture-based lookup features to shave precious minutes off the reporting process – which makes it much more likely a physician or nurse can squeeze it in between patients.

On-the-go access. Incidents and near misses can be reported from anywhere on any device with an internet connection – which means the information is captured when the details are still fresh.

No expertise required. Healthcare workers are experts in caring for patients, not risk management. Online entry forms show only relevant questions and guide users through the reporting process to capture complete and accurate information from any user.

See something, say something. Healthcare professionals reporting events using today’s software can choose to identify themselves – or not. While knowing who made the report is preferable (in case there are follow-up questions), the end goal is for all incidents and near misses to be reported, so it’s important that everyone feel comfortable speaking up. And if multiple people report the same event, the software will automatically combine those reports into one complete file so every voice can be heard.

The whole story – all in one place. As soon as an event is reported, the software automatically notifies everyone who needs to know what happened. You can see data in real-time, along with relevant pictures, documents, and other information that will help you take swift action.

Connect the dots. The software also shows real-time incident metrics by month, type of injury, body part, and more – and it can benchmark past performance against current results to determine if your actions were effective. In short, you have everything you need right at your fingertips to identify early warning signs and trends so you can quickly intervene.

Seeing is believing. There’s nothing like being able to see that your incident report helped even one patient. But when that data is combined with other reports to significantly improve patient outcomes across the board, the impact can be monumental – on staff as well as patients.

When it comes to keeping patients safe, what you don’t know can definitely end up hurting someone. The right technology opens lines of communication so mistakes can be shared, learned from, and fixed. And that’s the perfect environment for a safety culture to grow and thrive. Is technology a help or hindrance at your organization?

For more perspectives on incident reporting in the healthcare industry, check out the other blogs in the series:

Should Healthcare Incidents Be Reported Anonymously? Pros and Cons

Are You Ready to Move from Fear-Free to Blame-Free Healthcare Incident Reporting?

Guide to RMIS