The most successful healthcare organizations today are the ones fully embracing digital technology. Statistics show that effective healthcare transformations follow two distinct trends: using technology to increase patient experiences and access to medical care, and using technology to improve internal operational efficiencies.
Below are six examples of top innovations driving digital advancement in healthcare facilities, segmented by patient access and operational efficiency gains. Business leaders within healthcare organizations could benefit from understanding what’s driving top-line and bottom-line growth within their industry, and potentially apply similar digital transformation strategies inside their own facility.
Technology to Improve Patient Access & Experience
Ernst and Young reports that 64% of physicians believe digital health technology that captures patient-generated data will reduce the burden on doctors and nurses, having a positive impact on the vital issue of burnout. The following technologies have the potential to positively transform and enhance the doctor-patient relationship:
Clinical mobility engages patients to proactively manage their care.
1. Clinical Mobility
While patient portals have been in use by most healthcare systems across the US for years, clinical mobility promises to deliver more even value to patients outside hospital walls. Clinical mobility creates stickiness with patients, better engaging them to proactively manage their care. Mobile updates through SMS text messages can instantly remind patients to take medications, schedule follow-up appointments or pay bills online. Latest developments in reliable mobile technology have allowed this innovation to integrate with nearly any legacy clinical system securely.
2. Telepsychiatry Services
Telehealth services have become increasingly popular in recent years, improving healthcare access for individuals in remote areas. This has recently expanded to include psychiatric care. By using video technology to conduct psychiatric assessments, patients will not have to wait to receive critical mental health care. Most recently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced the launch of a nationwide telepsychiatric program to help veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. These telepsychiatry services not only improve access to mental health services for patients, but they also decrease hospitalization and increase early illness detection.
3. Virtual Reality (VR)
Hospitals across the United States have begun rolling out VR tools, creating engaging, educational experiences for patients and their families. Boston Children’s Hospital has created a VR tool that provides patients with a 3D tour of gastrointestinal tests, allowing patients to view their exact results to better understand their current medical conditions. Traditional paper results have been criticized by patients as being too technical and difficult to comprehend. By utilizing VR technology, patients are able to see exactly what their providers saw through a digital replica.
Technology for Operational Efficiency Gains in Healthcare
High-quality, sustainable healthcare depends on IT-enabled services and collaborative organizational technologies. McKinsey reports that investments in healthcare data solutions could save hospitals up to 10.8% in the first three years. The technologies listed below seek to reduce the time and inefficiencies associated with internal health system operations:
Patient matching algorithms seek to efficiently and accurately locate patient data across multiple health systems.
1. Patient Matching Algorithms
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describes patient matching in healthcare as the techniques used to identify and match data about patients in one healthcare system to previous providers. The ability to match patient records efficiently and accurately has been a necessity for the growing healthcare IT infrastructure. Such an algorithm will tackle the issues of interoperability and patient safety. While this technology is still being perfected, the use of patient matching algorithms is sure to dramatically simplify the patient on-boarding processes.
2. Clinical Surveillance Technology
With multiple patients to care for, checking in on every patient has long been a struggle for doctors and nurses alike. Clinical surveillance technology helps monitor patients and reminds healthcare professionals when it’s time to attend rounds for a particular patient. Surveillance technology is especially helpful for monitoring high-risk patients, providing real-time access to clinical and non-clinical patient data in and outside hospital walls. Such technology aims to keep doctors and nurses informed on the vitals of their patients even when they are off-the-clock by employing consistent data analysis. The hope is to reduce employee burnout as patient information is streamlined, having a positive effect on staff wellness.
3. Increased Infrastructure Security
Poor cybersecurity in healthcare IT systems presents risks to the infrastructure that keeps a facility running. While Internet of Things (IoT) medical devices improve patient health, the connectivity fundamental to these devices can also bring risks. Cyber attacks on connected devices could result in severe consequences, such as injury or death. While there is no magic code to prevent a cyber attack, taking the proper steps to assess risk and improve security is recommended on a regular basis. Many hospitals will hire an outside data and technology firm, like Falls Digital, to regularly audit and manage cybersecurity protocols.
While there is no shortage of healthcare technologies, they must be deployed in strategic and meaningful ways to reap the benefits. When digital tools are implemented haphazardly, patients may struggle to engage effectively. Today’s tech-savvy patients expect simple, positive experiences when managing their healthcare information. Before applying new technologies to improve your healthcare system, consider whether that tech solution improves access to patients and enhances the patient experience, or leads to operational efficiency gains for your staff via process improvements. Both areas are ripe for digital applications that lead to growth in healthcare organizations.