I’m currently working with a healthcare organization that is attempting to design the “hospital of the future.” It’s no surprise that this organization is adopting IT solutions to optimize patient care, but the hospital is spending just as much time and energy on improving the clinician experience.

Why? For one, the hospital is trying to attract staff, and officials hope a positive working environment will give the organization a competitive advantage. But also, they think that happy, well-rested doctors and nurses will be able to provide the best possible care. In my opinion, they’re on to something.

Here are five ways IT can create better clinician — and, therefore, better patient — experiences.

1. Ergonomic Design

Nurses typically work 12-hour shifts, and anything that can reduce fatigue is an instant win — both for care providers and for their patients. Studies have shown that fatigue can produce negative outcomes for both patients (via mistakes such as incorrect medical orders) and for nurses (as fatigue can contribute to obesity, depression and even motor vehicle accidents).

Vendors such as Humanscale take care to incorporate ergonomic design elements, such as height adjustability, into products like technology cabinets and mobile workstations. It’s the sort of benefit that might seem small during purchasing, but can make all the difference at the end of a nurse’s workweek.

2. Mobility

In many hospitals, when nurses want to place a new set of medical orders, they have to walk to a central station, call a doctor, leave a message and then walk back to the station when the doctor returns the call. It’s no wonder that nurses can walk as much as seven miles in a single shift.

Mobility solutions such as secure texting can not only reduce clinician fatigue but also prevent communication breakdowns and allow care providers to spend more time with patients.

3. Improved Alerts

Nationally, healthcare organizations are dealing with a shortage of nurses, with more set to retire in the coming years. Because of this shortage, it’s becoming essential for hospitals to optimize their workforces. Nurses spend a great deal of time responding to patient calls and alerts, but many of these are either false alarms or calls for tasks that could be completed by a volunteer or other nonlicensed individual (such as refilling a water pitcher). Middleware solutions can help nurses respond to calls and alerts more effectively.

4. Equipment Tracking

Clinicians spend enough time on their feet without having to circle hospital floors in search of wheelchairs, technology carts and infusion pumps. Simple RFID tagging solutions can give doctors, nurses and other staff real-time insight into the location of equipment.

5. Breaking Down Barriers

Technology should enhance the relationship between care providers and patients. But too often, IT solutions can feel like a “wall” that inhibits authentic interactions. The minimalistic design of technology carts and other products from vendors such as Humanscale helps take the focus away from the technology itself, and puts it back onto patients, where it belongs.

Learn more about how CDW can help your organization find the Humanscale products it needs to improve health and comfort on the job.

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2 thoughts on “5 Ways IT Can Improve the Clinician Experience (and Patient Care)

  • As a former hospital nursing staff and a current medical writer, I’ll add some suggestions.

    1. A Siri-like voice UI dedicated to hospital tasks. Make it give data like a patient’s latest blood counts and offer reminders. Speaking is much faster that dealing with a touch UI.

    2. Direct, staff-to-staff voice communications. Not texting, not phone calls. Make it like the push-to-talk feature one cellular provider used to offer. It’ll get quick answers to questions, such as “Can John in B-307 get up for the toilet?” No going, asking, and returning.

    Contact me if you want more details.

  • David Frumkin says:

    Michael, Thank you for your comments/suggestions.

    “Siri-like” technology is on the way in the form of natural language processing, which will allow for voice-driven interaction with EHRs. There are several challenges that need to be addressed, such as HIPAA compliance, taxonomy (too many ways to say the same thing in healthcare) and consistency of understanding a broad range of speech.

    There are already several push-to-talk technologies that have a limited deployment in healthcare. Organizations need to consider audit (when/who communicated) and HIPAA when applying the technology.

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