Delivering quality patient care through technology

Delivering quality patient care through technology

Delivering high quality patient care is a priority for hospitals worldwide. Technology provides unlimited, and in many cases untapped, potential to provide outstanding patient experiences. Below are some great global examples of how technology has, and continues to, revolutionise the healthcare industry.

The 10 Biggest Technological Advances for Healthcare in the Last Decade (Source: Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review1)

  1. The Electronic Health Record (EHR) has resulted in disparate platforms being consolidated into single or more structured platforms delivering integrated and efficient patient care
  2. mHealth. Wireless and cordless devices allow care providers and patients to check-on healthcare process on-the-go. Smartphones and tablets allow nurses and doctors to more readily access and send information. mHealth also allows patients to become active participants in their treatment through biometrics collecting and recording data.
  3. Telemedicine / telehealth allows rural residents to have access to the same resources available in metropolitan areas. There are also cost benefits from telehealth.
  4. Portal technology as a tool is source of empowerment and responsibility for patients, allowing them to be increasingly active players in their own healthcare.
  5. Self-service kiosks can expedite administrative processes like hospital registration, however this should be implemented with a degree of caution and should never entirely eliminate human to human communication.
  6. Remote monitoring tools are can reduce costs. They are incredibly useful for patients with serious and chronic illnesses, providing an opportunity for patients to be monitored remotely with sensors automating sending alerts if intervention is required.
  7. Sensors and wearable technology provide a way to collect data that can be used to send alerts. Examples include a patient falling or bandages that can detect skin pH levels to tell if a cut is getting infected and requires attention.
  8. Wireless communication is increasingly being used in hospitals to replace beepers and overhead pagers. Messaging systems like Vocera can expedite the communication process allowing users to securely send messages and alerts using smartphones, web-based consoles or 3rd party clinical systems.
  9. Real Time Location Systems (RTLS) help hospitals to improve efficiency, increasing protection for clinicians in duress situations and instantly identifying problem areas that need to be addressed.
  10. Pharmacogenomics / genome sequencing allows tailoring of treatment plans to individuals and anticipating the onset of certain diseases promising improved healthcare efficiency and diagnostic accuracy. To realise the true potential of this area, big data tools and analytics come into play to help interpret and act on the data collected.

 Internet of Things (IOT) (Source: Forbes2)

This is a concept that has incredible implications for our lives. Forbes provides a great basic description – IoT involves connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). Items such as mobile devices, household appliances, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of can be connected. This has great potential for hospitals. Consider this scenario – via wearable devices used in the workplace, you could collect data about when and where your teams are most active and productive, helping identify opportunities for productivity and efficiency gains.  The IoT does bring with it security risks that need to be addressed and big data also comes into play with data storage, management and analytics a huge factor in enabling this information to provide true value.

A New York hospital is using sensors specifically designed in conjunction with GE to indicate whether a bed is free or occupied by a patient, resulting in improved patient flow and a reduction in wait times in the emergency department.

With IoT and RTLS increasingly important in healthcare, it is important that internal wireless networks in hospitals are scalable; and designed for more than data transfer.

Technology increasing patient satisfaction (Source: Healthcare Business Tech3)

Technology can deliver faster service in many areas of patient care, sometimes in unexpected places. Shore Medical Centre in New Jersey had problems with food service, not uncommon in the industry, The Medical Centre overhauled their food service program with an external vendor, coordinating food delivery via tablets that linked to the facilities electronic health records, providing dietary restrictions and allergies and enabling direct communication with the patient about their meal choices and dietary limitations. The end result gave patients better control over their diet while in hospital and reduced food wastage saving the hospital US25,000 and delivering a 10% increase in patient satisfaction.

High tech patient rooms are becoming the norm as hospitals focus on creating a warm, comfortable environment for patient recovery. Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals are launching cognitive hospital rooms that will be powered by the IoT. Voice activated speakers will allow patients to undertake a variety of basic actions including adjusting their room temperature, closing blinds or receiving general information about their treatment and the hospital. Applying technology in this way allows patients to feel a greater sense of control and relax, aiding their recovery. It also reduces the patient’s reliance on nurse call buttons for basic needs, freeing up valuable time for both nurses and doctors.

What would the ideal hospital look like in 2020? (Source: Wired4)

Patient Room 2020, was a project undertaken by non-profit design firm NXT Health in 2013. Combining technology and design, while also being sensitive to the regular disinfecting required in hospitals, this project created a prototype that would allow patients to recuperate in a relaxing environment, designed around the specific requirements of both care givers and the patient. The concept included ideas such as:

  • Screens integrated into the architecture removing tiny monitors and low-res printouts and instead showing vital information in contextually appropriate locations.
  • Patient dining tables that flip allowing them to control lights, call for help and offer access to games and other forms of entertainment.
  • Embedded sensors and displays into the furniture and walls minimising errors and optimising the quality of care.
  • Altered colours of light and décor to address patient’s mental state and improve mood
  • Hotel style fit-outs. For examples stylish double shower doors opening to accommodate a patient in a wheelchair that could also found in a trendy home or hotel.
  • Touchscreens discretely tucked away with clever folding mechanisms, keeping them out of sight until needed.
  • Integrated sensors in bathroom to collect and display vital biometric data that can be difficult or unpleasant to capture conventionally.

Technology today allows many of these areas to be incorporated into hospital builds and refurbishments. With only a few years remaining until we reach 2020, how close are we to the ideal hospital environment?

Outstanding patient care is high on the agenda for most hospitals. If you are considering integrating your technology to deliver high quality patient care, contact AceTek on 02 8748 2000 for an obligation-free workshop.


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