It’s the era we’ve named The Age of the Consumer. Now more than ever, hospitals need to serve and retain patients to stay in the black because patient consumers have much more choice.
So, how can hospitals win in this new age?
It boils down to closing the gap between IT and the healthcare business—and fully understanding how this ties into the patient experience and care continuum.
The reality is inefficient IT can impact all aspects of the healthcare business from extra support costs, billing, purchasing, process improvement, to medication delivery, surgery scheduling and literally everything in between.
On the other hand, efficient IT translates to things like enabling physicians to sign off on charts at home instead of having to perform these tasks on site. This example of increased efficiency through IT results in minimized operational costs, more work-life balance to the clinician and better care for the patient.
Hurry up and wait no longer makes for an acceptable patient visit. Through some simple updates and the right tools, combined with centralizing the delivery of applications and desktops, provider offices, hospitals and other care delivery settings can achieve decreased time-to-productivity—the time it takes a clinician to access a patient’s record.
Imagine you’re a clinician. You see each patient for 11 minutes, on average. If you spend a minute (or longer) waiting to log in, that’s 10% of your time just trying to access patient data.
Longer wait times, whether in the doctor’s office or around scheduling an appointment can result in patients exploring other care options, which leads to lost business. As we know in this era, hospitals are competing for patients’ business and cannot afford to lag behind in technology.
It’s hard for IT personnel to make smart recommendations around design and implementation if they’ve never walked a day in the shoes of doctors or nurses, and don’t have a good grasp on clinical workflows.
Also, patient flows and processes have to be monitored and optimized for a healthcare business to remain profitable.
When technology hinders clinical workflow, clinicians can’t be as productive. As the old saying goes, time is money. If hospitals aren’t seeing as many patients in a day due to system failures and clunky machines, then they’re going to feel that pain at the bottom line.
Hospitals’ IT staff should keep the end-point design simple and manageable to achieve a consistent experience without interruption. One way to do that is through single image management: having one end-point image that all points utilize (i.e., load the same image each time). This, plus single sign-on technologies and other tactics are key ingredients that make up a successful healthcare IT strategy.
Aside from eliminating IT silos across geographic regions and throughout the enterprise to avoid redundancies and/or inefficiencies, virtualization also enables rapid and consistent delivery of core IT services.
As the business of healthcare continues to transform, application and desktop virtualization increasingly play a central role in supporting clinical workflows, especially in areas such as electronic health records and bring-your-own-device deployments, remote work and connected health.
Investing in the right technologies and a solid network to run these solutions is imperative. When the care continuum takes a back seat between multiple clinicians and facilities, it can be tragic.
Simply put, hospitals cannot manage what they don’t measure.
Prescription placement errors decrease and less money is spent on reordering the correct prescriptions when analytics are fueling the business. IT systems help hospitals avoid common mistakes that can lead to high-cost fixes.
Through analytics, hospitals are able to better identify bottlenecks and make smart adjustments to staffing. Analytics allow hospitals to internally see whether staff is focused on the things they should be focused on at that time.
Collecting good data, analyzing it and developing robust reporting through IT is the path to optimizing revenue cycle management.
Hospitals that focus on enacting these best practices will see improvements with business outcomes. To close the gap in the care continuum, hospitals need IT systems that work and are built for the future to stay profitable.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.
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Originally published December 19, 2018, updated October 8, 2019