Advancements in science and technology can not only benefit medicine, but every aspect of healthcare as well. In particular, innovations in digital technology and its applications provide ways to streamline efficiency in an overworked industry where every second matters. In some cases, a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death. Furthermore, healthcare is inherently a resource-intensive industry that exacts heavy costs on both the providers and the patients. Thus, any way to save on those costs without lowering the quality of patient care, or possibly improving it, should be explored.
Learn more about the issues that affect healthcare efficiency and the ways technology can address them.
What are common healthcare efficiency problems?
Efficiency issues arise in healthcare out of a combination of outdated technology, the amount and importance of needs to be met, and the complexity of the industry. The most recurring healthcare efficiency problems include:
Communication breakdowns can lead to critical delays in patient care. Outdated systems and poor communication can result in scenarios where physicians miss crucial information, affecting the decision-making process. This can lead to extended hospital stays, increased costs, and a suboptimal patient experience. In worst-case scenarios, it can even mean physicians operating on out-of-date or even incorrect information, with drastic consequences for the patient.
Keeping track of staff, equipment, available beds, and other resources necessary to meet patient needs can be difficult, especially in an industry as busy as healthcare. Hospitals need a comprehensive but easy-to-follow view of their resources to streamline patient care, track and optimize resource utilization, and provide timely assistance.
Time-consuming and inaccurate paperwork
Slow and outdated health record systems contribute to repetitive paperwork, wasting valuable time for both medical staff and patients. In addition, the repetitive and time-consuming nature of paperwork creates more opportunities for human errors, which can have drastic (or even life-threatening) repercussions for patients. This inefficiency can be addressed by leveraging digital solutions to streamline data entry and access.
Care path clarity
Well-defined care pathways are crucial for efficient patient care. They provide the framework for the vital decisions and healthcare processes regarding groups of patients during specific time periods. Clear care paths improve hospital operational efficiency, while poorly defined and managed ones lead to delays, bottlenecks, and ineffective resource utilization.
By applying technology in novel and practical ways, healthcare organizations can minimize or even eliminate the inefficiencies that affect their ability to take care of their patients. These efficiency solutions include:
Telehealth solutions facilitate virtual interactions between doctors and patients, reducing the need for face-to-face visits. This not only saves time and money but also enhances accessibility for patients. It also makes it easier for doctors and other healthcare professionals to engage with more patients in a shorter period. Telemedicine enables:
- Online appointment scheduling, cancellation, or rescheduling
- Instant communication between patients and doctors
- Remote prescription tracking and fulfillment
- Access to test results and medical records from anywhere
Electronic health records (EHR)
EHR systems have transformed patient communication and information sharing among healthcare organizations. Such digital records ensure comprehensive and accessible patient histories, reducing the risk of errors and improving the quality of care.
Healthcare facilities can leverage big data — large sets of data generated by different sources, in this case, such as medical records, hospital records, and examination results — in a variety of ways. By analyzing these vast quantities of data, healthcare organizations can obtain insights into trends, patterns, and predictive outcomes. This results in several benefits, including:
- Fewer medication errors through data analysis
- Identification of patients requiring preventive care plans
- Accurate staffing predictions for enhanced operational efficiency
- Improved understanding of patient behaviors for tailored solutions
AI enhances healthcare efficiency through automation and data analysis. By automating tedious tasks such as record-keeping and management, AI frees up personnel to perform more important work while also minimizing the impact of human error. When it comes to analysis, AI can extrapolate and process vast amounts of data faster than a human analyst, helping medical professionals reach answers more quickly, benefitting both them and patients.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT refers to smart devices capable of connecting to the internet and wireless networks. In addition to more mundane household applications, IoT has healthcare applications, including:
- Continuous monitoring of patients through wearable devices
- Real-time tracking of medical equipment and supply expenditure for efficient resource utilization
- Smart cameras for monitoring sanitization practices
Contact Refresh Technologies today to learn more about how technology can improve the efficiency of your healthcare organization.