By Will O’Connor, CMIO, TigerConnect.
COVID-19 has amplified troubling pain points in the healthcare sector. Forced to scale delivery of care beyond hospital walls at an accelerating pace, providers are experiencing the limitations of outdated legacy technology and siloed lines of communication. And in full ICUs across the nation, weary frontline workers are stretched thin, summoned from crisis to crisis by an unrelenting chorus of alerts, alarms and pages.
Better communication and collaboration tools, like those deployed in most other industries today, could help beleaguered frontline teams perform their jobs more efficiently and with less stress. In fact, some hospitals already provide their staff with technology that helps them better prioritize nurse call alerts, manage workflows and assignments, and collaborate with physicians, technicians and others involved in each patient’s treatment.
But those are the exceptions to the norm in one of the last industries to undergo a digital transformation. In fact, some 90% of hospitals still rely on faxes, and 80% still use pagers. In many cases, physicians using pagers must carry several at the same time. Communications between care team members and with the patient occur over outdated systems and can delay the exchange of vital information and timely scheduling of treatments. These antiquated communication systems decrease the quality of care and make it harder for healthcare workers to do their jobs.
Healthcare leaders seeking improved efficiency and productivity in their organization’s patient outcomes, financial performance, staff satisfaction, or patient experiences should look first to the quality of their communications. A health system’s communications network provides the channels for critical collaboration between physicians, technicians, nurses and others as they pursue the shared goal of delivering quality patient care.
Platforms that prioritize data integration, patient engagement and collaboration among caregivers not only deliver the best care, but also enable doctors and nurses to do their jobs easier, improve the patient experience and realize the lowest operating expenses.
As physicians, nurses and administrators grow increasingly dissatisfied with the legacy systems still in use at their organizations, more and more hospitals and hospital systems are augmenting or replacing traditional IT infrastructure with cutting-edge technologies. What follows are key features to look for while planning improvements and evaluating available solutions.