Clinician time is every community hospital’s most precious commodity.
More clinician time means more time spent with patients; more time spent with patients means a community better served (plus, a healthier business).
What’s that, you say? Your community hospital’s IT is taking time away from clinicians instead of giving it back to them?
Well, we have the remedy for you. Here are five ways for your hospital to leverage technology, get lean and keep clinicians focused on what matters most to them: your patients.
1) Streamline Authentication
Your physicians and nurses are likely losing thousands of patient care time hours each year, just because they need to log into systems multiple times throughout the day to do their jobs. Your clinicians shouldn’t be dragging a heavy laptop or computer cart with them to stay logged in. Instead, place integrated devices at several strategic locations, letting your users access your system anywhere without having to login every time.
Additionally, your hospital’s EHR shouldn’t require multiple sign-ins to access different modules. Consider using a hospital single-sign on application that interfaces with your EHR and other HCIS, creating a one-stop desktop for your hospital’s clinicians to use throughout the day.
2) Automate And Integrate
Your hospital’s technology should be highly automated and integrated, removing manual burdens for physicians and nurses wherever possible. The less your clinicians have to physically move, fax or mail information from one department to another (or from your organization to another), the better.
Medical device integration is a highly effective way to save time and give clinicians more time. This holds especially true for nurses, who often act as a human bridge between technologies.
Here’s a fairly simple way to start: Automatically export patient vitals from monitoring devices to your EHR. Now, your nurses validate information instead of transcribe, freeing up time for patients.
3) Squash System Workarounds
Ironically, many of your clinicians might be going around your hospital’s IT in a misguided attempt to save time. After all, it takes less time to pick up a phone and print out a piece of paper now than to attend a one-hour system training course tomorrow. But the workarounds your users believe give them patient time back only hurt care time in the long run.
For instance, if a physician isn’t entering CPOE data correctly — instead delegating the task to nurses — information inevitably gets duplicated or goes missing. Days later, a coding employee has to find the physician and attempt to piece together why the system is missing information, pushing back appointments on the physician’s schedule.
4) Measure, Improve, Repeat
If you want to get serious about giving clinicians time back, you need to get serious about measuring their behaviors and adjusting your hospital’s processes accordingly.
You can’t hand users a top-of-the-line IT system or process and expect everything to proceed as planned. Find out if users are interacting with your technology correctly and actually saving time. Pull user activity metrics from your HCIS and determine:
- What users are spending the most time on in each system
- How much time each user is spending in each system
- How many times users need to sign in/out to do their jobs
Compare these statistics against detailed KPI reports (such as possible duplicate person reports, missing bill tag reports and uncoded charts reports) to fully understand how effectively your clinicians are using your systems and determine where system time could be reduced (and care team increased).
Know your team’s exact weaknesses and have super users coach them on best practices, greasing the wheels, improving workflow and freeing more time up for patients.
5) Think Lean
Lastly, make sure that at every point your hospital’s IT plan is driven by patient value instead of arbitrary project completion dates or compliance deadlines. A lean healthcare approach aligns your hospital’s technology and processes to patient value, giving you the tools and tactics necessary to minimize workflow interruptions and free up clinician time for patients.
The key components of a lean healthcare strategy include:
- Assessing your organizational health. KPIs are set and leadership’s care and business goals are made measurable.
- Creating a problem-solving culture. Staff is educated on ways to solve problems instead of work around them.
- Creating value. Patient value is mapped out, and all processes are measured according to how much patient value they provide.
- Designing for the future. Long-term, strategic decision-making guides ongoing improvements and additions.