Healthcare is plagued by too much waiting around. Visit any doctor’s office or hospital emergency room, and you’ll almost certainly find several patients frustrated with the long wait time until they are seen.
While there’s no silver bullet to completely eradicate the waiting game from patient care, we’re finding that the increasing ubiquity of mobile and telehealth tools, along with other healthcare communications technologies vastly improves collaboration between patients and providers, as well as between clinicians. According to a CDW study published in 2017, 70 percent of patients say that they’ve become more engaged with their healthcare during the past two years, up from 57 percent in 2016. What’s more, 66 percent of providers say that they’ve noticed a change in their patients’ level of engagement with their own healthcare.
Better collaboration through technology, in turn, can lead to fewer bottlenecks, which holds the potential to improve care and outcomes, streamline workflow and lower operating costs.
Reducing Patient Readmissions
According to a 2018 study from Zebra, more than 65 percent of nurse managers and IT executives surveyed cite improved communication and collaboration as the primary benefits of clinical mobility in patient care. Many hospitals today deploy corporate-owned mobile devices to enable better collaboration. Such tools allow for MBMCA (Mobile Barcode Medication Administration), conferencing, telephony and secure messaging between colleagues.
Mobile communication and collaboration tools can also open up time for doctors. Providers using solutions from companies such as TigerText, for instance, are able to see more patients per shift, and are also seeing reduced lengths of stays and lower readmission rates.
That latter benefit is important, as more than a quarter of hospital readmissions could be avoided through improved communication between healthcare professionals, as well as between clinicians and patients, according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Telehealth technology is also proving key to improving collaboration in healthcare. Look at Access Physicians, which provides supplemental specialist care to hospitals via telehealth carts and remote doctors. The company not only helps rural organizations care for certain patients, it also provides opportunities for clinicians to learn new procedures by working alongside those remote specialists.
Remote support offered via Avera eCARE — which focuses on providing intensive care unit, ER, pharmacy and hospitalist services to other care organizations — has even translated into community economic success, according to CEO Deanna Larson.
Laying the Foundation for Success
Clinical mobility and collaboration isn’t as easy as simply handing out devices or rolling out carts. To be successful, organizations must lay the groundwork for such efforts.
A robust infrastructure that can support increasingly growing bandwidth and networking demands is necessary. For patients, clinicians and administrators who rely on wireless devices and other tools, healthcare organizations must build scalable networks that can deliver Wi-Fi signals throughout the facility.
What’s more, to comply with HIPAA, healthcare organizations must use mobile device, application and content management solutions that encrypt patient data and ensure it remains private and secure. A cloud-based enterprise mobility management platform can simplify that process and help providers remotely deploy devices and applications, monitor usage, perform security updates, enact policies such as access control and lock devices or wipe their data in case they’re lost or stolen.
In order to see the true benefits of collaborative technology use, healthcare organizations cannot deploy mobile and telehealth tools in a vacuum. By thinking about each step along the way, providers will be able to achieve their desired care, operational and financial outcomes.
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