With HIMSS fast approaching April 12-16 in our hometown of Chicago, the focus of this post seems fitting. What is the future of the connected healthcare system? Of course, the patient outcome will always be the number one priority of any healthcare organization. There are a number of ways to improve that patient outcome though, including utilizing healthcare technology to facilitate the sharing of information within a healthcare system. Surprisingly, most hospitals are lagging in adopting technology to connect their workplace, which once implemented will ultimately save the healthcare organization time and money.
According to the latest data from Accenture’s “Making the Case for Connected Health” study, approximately 43 percent of United States healthcare employees routinely embrace healthcare IT adoption, with England and Australia leading the way at more than 60 percent, but still a low percentage. It’s clear that moving forward, healthcare systems will feel the need to improve their internal systems to ultimately advance patient care. But where do we see the future of the connected healthcare system going and how can we work to improve the overall connectivity?
Tying Census Data to Staffing Data
There is a technology gap in many hospitals today, where census data and staffing data are either not analyzed together, or are analyzed on a very elementary level. It is critical to implement systems to utilize your census data – when a patient arrived at a bed, when are they transferring, or when they are expected to discharge – to properly build out staffing schedules and coverage based on that new knowledge. Many times (yes, even in 2015) hospitals are either significantly over or under staffed, but rarely staffed efficiently. By connecting this data, and allowing the systems to “talk to each other,” building out staffing schedules can become significantly more efficient.
Investing in Timekeeping and Attendance Software
Similar to software built to analyze census and staffing data, time and attendance software is not considered an immediate need for hospitals. Most back-end systems and investments are focused on tracking patient records to enhance the patient experience and decrease the amount of time doctors are spending taking notes, tracking data, etc. Many hospitals spend their available funds on proactive healthcare management, not timekeeping and scheduling. In reality, investing in software such as this to track employee hours and patterns and ensure that the right employees are covering the shifts where they are needed, will ultimately better connect the hospital’s systems and deliver the best quality of care (therefore improving the patient experience) in the most efficient manner (saving the hospital time and money).
Why are these software enhancements so important to the future of the connected healthcare system? Because connecting all areas of your healthcare system – your back-end management design, payroll and time and attendance to your data and patient management systems is critical to improving the patient outcome and saving hospitals money. Physicians tend to be resistant to adopting healthcare IT in the US, but according to a 2013 Deloitte report, 73% of physicians believe that healthcare information technology will improve the quality of care provided for patients, so look to see enhanced utilization of software and increased communication within the next 5-10 years. We look forward to attending HIMSS this year to hear how others see the future of the connected healthcare system improving!