In recent years, our ability to stream large amounts of data in real-time has improved dramatically. This enhancement can transform how clinicians offer care by sourcing unprecedented opportunities for clinical decision support. However, the capability to process, store, and display data in and of itself does not transform care. Rather, it is how the clinicians adopt and apply decision support that will make all the difference to patients. However, the current environment must be altered to create a clinical decision support-friendly climate.
Healthcare is rapidly evolving, and more than ever, hospitals are under extreme pressure to continuously identify ways to improve performance and justify every expense. In this type of environment, technological innovation alone will not prove sufficient. Instead, making sure technology is successfully implemented and processes are streamlined to ensure adoption and maximize value becomes the currency of improvement.
It’s hard to remember a time when Big Data wasn’t all the rage; it’s harder still to believe that we’ve barely reached the tip of the iceberg with its potential. The healthcare industry has made strides with managing the patient data it’s collecting, yet there’s still so much more that both providers and their vendor partners can be doing to leverage Big Data to improve patient care. While we’ve established a foothold, here’s where I think we’re heading next year.
When I’m not heads down in data points on how hospitals around the country are going mobile, I spend time volunteering as a clinician with the Rural Health Clinic of the Cumberlands, a free clinic for the underserved community in my neighborhood in Cumberland County, Tennessee. So, the challenges facing rural hospitals and health systems today are both a professional and personal interest of mine.
Today, the majority of STEMI patients – up to 80 percent – are unable to get to a STEMI receiving hospital within 60 minutes. The country’s rural healthcare facilities are critical to delivering care to a number of underserved communities. But with nearly 40 million new patients entering the system under the Affordable Care Act, and smaller community facilities under threat of acquisition by larger health systems, it’s time for rural hospitals to go on the offensive.
I’ve worked in healthcare for more years than I care to admit – as nurse, manager, supervisor, researcher, panelist, educator, preceptor and mentor. When I first started practicing, patients on the medical and surgical floors of today would have been in the ICU.
The technology and capacity to extend life creates new levels of complexity in care. Yet reports indicate the number of experienced clinicians at the bedside is shrinking. About half of the registered nurses in the U.S. have diplomas or associate degrees and the other half are prepared at the baccalaureate level or higher. Less than one percent of our registered nurses are doctorally prepared. An estimated 33 percent of the registered nurses currently working in the hospital setting will retire within 12 years.