Regardless of the industry, it can be tempting to maintain the same processes that have been in place for years, but just as the healthcare industry is constantly evolving so too must a hospital administrator’s approach to managing their facility.
Here are three cutting-edge ways hospital admins can improve healthcare efficiency.
Invest in Communication Technology
While nearly every industry left pagers behind more than a decade ago, many hospitals still use them as the primary communication device among staff. One of the main reasons for this is because mobile phones are still prohibited in most healthcare facilities. However, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Advanced Research demonstrated that although early 2G and 3G cell phones could affect the function of some medical devices, 4G phones (which were introduced in 2010) showed little to no interference with medical devices. Previous research published in the Journal of Critical Care as well as a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic had similar findings.
A unified communications (UC) system integrates a broad range of technologies which (in the hospital setting) allow seamless tracking, monitoring and communication of patient information. A UC system creates a central hub for all patient data, which providers can easily access to see a patient’s current clinical status, location and upcoming procedures. Hospital staff can use the UC system to contact nurses, physicians and members of the healthcare team with updates, both urgent and minor.
Implement Process Automation Tools
While electronic health record (EHR) software has eliminated some of the more manual processes in the hospital — such as completing paper forms and filing documents — many other manual processes cannot be assisted by an EHR.
Process automation tools can be used to improve the following:
- Admissions procedures, by automatically creating patient-specific forms and identification such as wristbands
- Form completion, by offering electronic versions of commonly used forms
- Hospital transfers, by facilitating collaboration and communication between hospitals
- Finances, by automating contract management and invoice processing
Process automation tools can collect valuable data that can be used to predict trends and optimize performance of hospital staff at every level.
Use Asset Tracking Software
Even a smaller hospital has thousands of pieces of equipment in its facility — IV poles, feeding pumps, EKG machines, just to name a few. Knowing the exact location and status of each asset is critical to efficiency.
Using a system of hard copies and manually updated spreadsheets means hospital staff doesn’t have real-time access to the data they need. Thus, the hospital is at risk of over-procurement to ensure equipment availability. Conversely, an asset could be in high demand and thus often unavailable, which can disrupt the hospital workflow and be frustrating for employees (and patients).
Without asset tracking software, hospital staff must complete all inventory counts and equipment reporting manually. Manual inventory counts and reporting are not only inefficient, but they also increase the risk of human error. Multiple copies of the same report also could exist, which can lead to conflicting information. Both of these situations can result in a hospital administrator using incorrect data to make important decisions.
An asset-tracking solution compiles all of this information into one database that the hospital staff can quickly view and manage. They can locate medical equipment, see maintenance records and determine the status of each hospital asset, eliminating the time wasted searching for mobile equipment. As a result, hospital flow is more efficient, inventory costs are reduced and patients get care more quickly.
Communication technology, process automation tools and asset-tracking software are just a handful of the innovative ways hospital administrators can increase healthcare efficiency. While you should never forgo the tried-and-true methods, trying one of these strategies in your hospital can be a great complement to the solutions with which you are already familiar.
Choosing the best medical device for your hospital can require a substantial time commitment. To make the process go more quickly, download our free guide, The Hospital Administrator’s Handbook: Understanding Medical Device Approvals.