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Hospitals Rely on New Technologies to Strengthen Patient Care
Andrew Parker, Vice President – Corporate Business Development and General Counsel, bioMérieux, Inc.
How pioneering technologies streamline and improve clinical care
According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, more than 90% of large, medium, small rural and critical access hospitals are using certified health information technology (HIT) to support their healthcare systems, as of June 2019. For most hospitals, HIT isn’t just an innovative extra – it’s a critical part of everyday operations. From Electronic Health Records to software that helps analyze and communicate lab data to surveillance and reporting programs to support antimicrobial stewardship, having the right technology at your hospital means having a real competitive advantage. Here are a few ways that technology is helping both hospitals and patients achieve better outcomes.
Telemedicine to connect patients and providers
Telemedicine – also called telehealth – has become more popular over the past few years but adoption of the technology has exploded this year due to the pandemic. In fact, telehealth visits in the U.S. are projected to climb to 1 billion by the end of 2020.
Healthcare providers and patients being able to connect virtually saves a person from having to visit a hospital, urgent care, or medical practice in-person – and limits their exposure to the coronavirus. Telehealth visits also helped avoid overburdening emergency departments and urgent care centers as they focused on severe cases of COVID-19. Connection options can include a phone call, email, text, video visit, or even a video email.
Now more than ever, technology platforms can assist hospitals in developing effective antimicrobial stewardship programs
Bringing together care coordination in a fragmented healthcare system is a major challenge – and smart technology (or software-as-a-service (SaaS)) can help streamline and connect disparate information. SaaS platforms provide automation that delivers a holistic view of relevant lab and clinical data across departments, processes, and vendors – and then translates this data into actionable insights visualized on easy-to-use dashboards.
Here are some of benefits that SaaS can provide to improve both clinical and financial outcomes for hospitals:
• Real-time, actionable data – Capturing patient data electronically allows providers to analyze and improve processes about care efficiency and outcomes. Getting real-time, or near real-time, data on patients allows a provider to be proactive instead of reactive.
• A focus on patient experience – SaaS helps clinicians focus on patient care rather than administrative tasks so they can deliver a quality experience to patients and their families. Because SaaS-powered electronic patient-transition networks automate a hospital's administrative workflow, routine tasks such as faxing patient records may not be as necessary.
• Improves operational efficiency – Some SaaS networks can track a patient's entire episode of care from the moment he or she enters the hospital, so hospitals can optimize operational efficiencies to decrease costs. Similarly, real-time data also helps a hospital identify where patient care is delayed and for how long.
• Simplifies patient referrals – Real-time data from SaaS networks helps hospitals transmit clinical documentation about potential patient referrals to post-acute-care providers securely and in a timely manner. The provider can review the referral and then quickly accept or deny the patient. This process improves the efficiency of patient referrals and allows hospitals to better ensure patients receive the appropriate secondary care.
• Reduces readmissions – With care and outcome data from different care settings made available through a patient-transition network, hospitals can review readmissions by provider, patient, physician and diagnosis – and identify root causes of readmissions. Hospitals armed with that data can then work to prevent readmissions in targeted ways.
Information technology and antimicrobial stewardship
Now more than ever, technology platforms can assist hospitals in developing effective antimicrobial stewardship programs in order to slow the development of resistance to antibiotics and to optimize antibiotic prescribing practices.
Surveillance and reporting platforms offer benefits such as automated dosing with clinical surveillance and drug interaction alerts. This automated technology calculates how hospitals are using antibiotics and provides clear feedback on how they can do better.
Overall, incorporating information technology has the power to help hospitals save money but also improve patient outcomes, reduce lengths of stay and reduce overall use of antibiotics.