There is new healthcare technology being developed all the time that is enhancing patient care in unique new ways. These technology developments range from increasing the accuracy of patient records to improving how illnesses or ailments are treated. Technology advancements have become a cornerstone for improving healthcare.
It can be a real challenge for a hospital IT Director to keep up with the latest advancements, given the extent of his or her daily responsibilities. The demands are endless, including, hallway “I need your help” drive-by’s, routine patch management, constant upgrades, ever-present threats to security, mobile device management, phone systems integration and support, continual EHR changes and various compliance projects. This list probably only scratches the surface. So, to help out, we thought we would provide a short summary of some of the most significant innovations in healthcare IT and ways to effectively implement them in your own organization.
4 “Areas Of Innovation” To Focus Your Attention This Year And In 2017
While there have been numerous innovations in healthcare technology in last few years, some particular innovations stand out because they are becoming widely accepted or adopted, have added value in terms of patient care, or make the clinicians’ jobs easier.
- Electronic Health Record (EHR) Interoperability
CMS has an entire initiative focusing on integrating health information between disparate EHR systems. Integration between your primary EHR and departmental EHR systems should be a focus. Once you have organizational integration and improved workflows in place, focus on integrating with an HIE or your partners. Direct integration of discrete patient data from other providers into your EHR will provide a more complete view of a patient’s health. With easily accessible information, physicians are able to accurately treat ailments and provide better care and outcomes. Having a platform for centralized management of interfaces (interface/interop. engine) is no longer a luxury; it’s a foundational component.
- Wearable devices
This innovation in healthcare IT strives to engage patients in their own care. With Fitbits, smart watches and mobile devices tracking daily steps, burned calories and even heart rate (with some advanced models), patients get daily insight into their health and activity. Plus, physicians are able to receive and monitor real-time data on their patients’ health, which improves the level of care they deliver. New wearable devices for diabetics, for instance, accurately monitor blood sugar and caloric intake, giving clinicians up-to-date insight into this data. Creating a common platform for managing all of these disparate data sources is now something all IT Directors are going to have to start thinking about.
- Unified Communications
Coordinated patient care is critical to positive outcomes and patient satisfaction. Integrating nurse call systems, wireless phones, secure texting, and alert monitors in one convenient mobile device can be a daunting task. There are a number of technologies coming to the healthcare IT marketplace that can provide both systems integration and single device access. Allowing staff to have access to the EHR, voice communications and secure texting greatly improves and speeds up the workflow. Having the latest information at your fingertips, the quick exchange of information between clinicians, and the immediate response to an alert can make an enormous difference in patient care.
- Data Mining and Analytics
On the surface it may seem that analytics does not have a direct impact on patient care, but you would be surprised. Knowledge is power. Implementing a robust analyst program (tools and staff) will provide a window into how your organization is performing. In the clinical areas, performance metrics and quality data can be gathered and analyzed to provide an insight into how patient a care is being provided. For example, analytics tools can provide a greater alignment with the value-based reimbursement model, in which physicians are compensated when they meet certain metrics for high-quality, efficient patient care.
Each of these advancements brings its own benefits to patient care. Understanding and identifying these improvements helps you benchmark your healthcare organization’s progress, including:
- An increase in accuracy of healthcare reporting
- Greater physician insight into patient status
- Greater ease and accuracy in terms of diagnosing ailments and treating patients
- Decreased risk of adverse events
- Stronger ability to track and improve metrics
The list of benefits grows longer each day, but organization-wide integration of these advancements is presenting a challenge for IT leaders.
Integrating Healthcare Technology In Your Hospital
While you may have adopted some advancements in healthcare technology and rely on your EHR to track patient information, it’s not always easy to introduce IT innovations into the workflow of your hospital. To help ensure successful adoption and integration of new technology, consider the following tips:
- Think enterprise-wide as you assess your current technology. Whether analyzing your ambulatory and acute connectivity or your overall interface strategy, optimizing systems for the enterprise rather than the individual department is critical.
- Optimize your EHR workflows using vendor and industry best practice. Many hospitals are taking another look at their IT systems that have already been implemented to with an eye toward value to the patient. This focus on the patient not only drives better patient satisfaction, it drives efficiency and clinician satisfaction as well. We have seen many have great success using Lean and professional project management methods to effectively facilitate the optimization effort.
- Define best practices for healthcare technology in your organization and monitor end user behavior in order to ensure that all of your IT team members are following them.
- Leverage an IT Steering Committee to evaluate the enterprise value of new technology innovations in a structured way. This structure should help you ensure that new innovations don’t pass you by or unintentionally create new data silos.
Making the most of your healthcare technology practices and keeping up with these industry innovations requires a lot of time and energy that hospital IT leaders may not have. Need some help? Give us a shout.
Want to find out more about innovations in healthcare IT? Join me for a free webinar on improving provider productivity using technology.