Three Ways Technology Can Address Healthcare’s Growing Pains

stethoscope-2617701__340Science and medicine continue to advance at an astonishing rate thanks to technological innovation. We have already seen digital health solutions that promise to transform patient care in our lifetime. While these advancements are indeed groundbreaking for the healthcare industry, there are still basic day-to-day care processes in hospitals across the country ripe for improvement by applying technology.

By focusing on improving daily workflow routines, hospitals can replace some legacy processes with more advanced and efficient care delivery processes. When looking for processes to improve, a good place to start is by reviewing practices related to labor, supplies and drugs – three of the most costly hospital expenses – and make changes that will help the organization improve operational efficiencies.

Arts and Crafts

Currently, the process for documenting ECG strips in many hospitals requires clinicians to print the rhythm strips, then manually cut and paste snippets onto a piece of paper, before scanning them into the EHR. This ‘arts and crafts’ activity is a costly and time consuming process.

Technology applications are now available with the capability to digitally capture ECG strips and transmit them to the EHR. This type of technology ensures the right ECG strip is transmitted to the correct patient record. In addition, a full digital workflow significantly reduces the time and cost at which hospitals process this information. Moreover, by redesigning the process to be more efficient and less time-intensive, the clinician experience stands to improve.

Scavenger Hunt

In many hospitals, nurses commonly keep high-demand equipment for patients with specific care needs on-hand by stashing them in nearby closets. This way, the equipment will be available when they need it most. However, when equipment is stored in remote locations, other nurses end up on a scavenger hunt to find what they need. This wastes time, creates inefficiencies and delays care.

Hospitals can now tag equipment with radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology that identifies its status and location. Coupled with digital access to the location of hospital equipment, RFID technology allows nurses to rely on their hospital’s equipment allocation process with confidence.

Organizing Chaos

Bed-flow through a hospital is still a dynamic – and sometimes chaotic – process, with much staff movement, transport of patients throughout the facility, juggling of resources and by sometime in the evening, the patients staying through the night land in their respective beds. There are many enabling technologies that help hospital operators manage this complex dance, including display screens to facilitate the placement of patients in appropriate levels of care. For patients with chronic illnesses, there are now options for care beyond admission to a hospital.

By taking advantage of telehealth innovation, hospitals are freeing up beds and monitoring more patients at home. Virtual patient monitors and biosensors are redefining telehealth’s reach and changing the healthcare experience by bringing patient care back into the home.

Overall, enhancing these existing daily processes with digital health technology can improve workflows, operations, and ultimately patient care.