The Hospital of the Future. What does it look like? What is the patient experience like? How does the latest healthcare technology factor into strategic planning?
These important questions were addressed during the National Healthcare South 2018 Conference that our team attended in February. We walked away from the conference with a greater appreciation of how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and software such as IBM Watson will help streamline the Hospital of the Future to increase patient satisfaction.
However, conference leaders also stressed that healthcare providers and hospitals cannot lose sight of the central purpose of their facility: quality of care for real people with real health concerns.
Will the Latest Healthcare Technology Achieve Your Purpose?
Facility decision-makers have a challenging task of deciding which technology to use or lose. What technology will actually be valuable for our facility compared to just being “cool, but not helpful?”
When evaluating the latest technology that is available now or five years down the road, you should ask whether it aligns with the central purpose of increasing quality of care for patients.
Consider the following example. In the past decade, a major Houston health clinic experimented with their patient check-in process. The clinic originally had patients check in with a receptionist at the designated specialty location (family medicine, oncology, cardiology, etc.) where their appointment was scheduled. Then, the clinic changed to a central check-in location for every patient to utilize.
The change had its advantages and disadvantages. The primary advantage was a central check-in location, which was helpful for patients who needed to visit more than one specialty location. The primary disadvantage was long lines and less personal service interacting with a receptionist who represented all of the specialty locations instead of just one.
Advances in technology made it possible for the clinic to use a central check-in location to streamline the process of checking in hundreds of patients each day. However, the drawback of longer lines and less personalized service did not help with the quality of care for patients.
Will Your Hospital Staff Use the Technology?
A second key consideration for deciding on technology is understanding whether the hospital staff will use the latest technology if implemented in the hospital.
Throughout the decision-making process, you should involve stakeholders who will be asked to use the technology. It is important to achieve universal buy-in from all departments (nursing, pharmacy, Biomed, etc.). Otherwise, you risk inefficiencies in your workflow.
For example, if you are considering shifting all of your documentation for medication transportation from paper to digital, you need everyone on board. If the pharmacy is using a digital method to distribute medication but the nursing staff is still relying on paper to verify medication, you run the risk of inefficiencies — or even costly mistakes.
Why is this important? Inefficiencies and preventable mistakes take away from your central purpose of quality of care for patients. Instead of being on the phone with the pharmacy department, your nursing staff needs to be at the bedside with patients. Instead of making a costly mistake dispensing the wrong medication or in the wrong amount, your nurses should be spending more time caring for their patients.
There is also an important financial consideration if the frontline staff does not use the technology. To avoid wasteful spending, you need to achieve buy-in, train users on how to use the technology, and continue to reinforce the value.
Will AI Increase or Decrease Human Interaction in Your Facility?
Looking ahead to the future of healthcare technology, one of the concerns about AI is whether it will increase or decrease human interaction with patients.
- AI should increase back-end efficiency to allow nurses to work at the highest level of their licensure and readily care for their patients.
- AI should not take away nurses’ time spent with patients, either through managing the AI or by replacing nurses in the patient’s room.
“We cannot let the human element of healthcare go away,” said one executive at the Health South conference.
The quality of your healthcare facility is driven by a hospital staff that is equipped and freed to care for patients. Patients need face-to-face, human interaction. They need a hug, a prayer, or a smile to say it’s going to be okay.
If the latest healthcare technology available to your facility does not drive nurses back to the bedside to increase the quality of care, then the technology might just fall in the “cool, but not helpful” category.
Consider How Talon Can Help Increase Quality of Care
Talon is driven by supporting healthcare facilities with cost-effective, high-quality solutions and Talon preferred workflows that integrate with your existing operations.
We are committed to a Lean methodology that ensures quality of care, patient satisfaction, medication safety, and nurses working at the highest level of their licensure in your facility.
When your facility has the opportunity to integrate the latest healthcare technology, focus on whether it will achieve your mission best serving patients.
Also, contact Talon to find out how we can support you in the decision-making process. We can provide solutions that allow you to take advantage of available technology for your facility now and in the future.