A huge chunk of health care spending covers the rising costs of supplies, pharmaceuticals, staff salaries, and medical equipment. Hospitals therefore face the dilemma of availing affordable care without compromising on quality. On top of that, hospitals have to deal with cybersecurity threats due to the high volume of patient data.
This is why operation efficiency is critical in the healthcare setting. The right IT solutions can help hospitals achieve operational efficiency, providing patients with better care and lowering healthcare costs in the process.
Sources of operational challenges
Besides dealing with increased competition and maintaining high patient satisfaction, every hospital faces some sort of operational challenges. Some of these include slow growth in patient revenues, high operational costs, operational bottlenecks such as long wait times, an aging population requiring more hospital visits, increased prevalence of chronic diseases, and increased coverage.
How IT solutions can provide operational efficiency
Hospitals operations include many processes, which require careful planning to ensure efficiency while saving on costs. Most successful hospitals are taking advantage of healthcare IT solutions, such as lean principles and predictive planning, to help drive efficiency.
Here are a few ways technology can help streamline operations.
1. Use automation to streamline patient flow.
More patients mean more revenue. Unfortunately, however, achieving full capacity is not always that easy. Emergency department delays and slow inpatient bed occupancy are possible bottlenecks that need to be addressed promptly to streamline patient flow.
Long patient wait times translate to lower inpatient admissions and reduced patient satisfaction. For most hospitals, inpatient admissions, especially ones that require surgery, are the biggest sources of revenues. Addressing patient wait times, therefore, can help increase occupancy rates and ultimately, increase operating income.
You can achieve this through automation. IT solutions, such as the use of analytics-driven software, can help identify possible sources of delays and help speed up patient movement. This software captures patient data and allows for tracking of individual patients as they go through the system, starting right from when they key in their details at the reception. Your help desk technician can then analyze patient movements, and identify possible bottlenecks for future improvements.
On the same note, the optimal operating room (OR) scheduling can help streamline patient flow and increase operating income. Surgical patients account for 65 percent of hospital revenues. Since you can only have so many operating rooms due to the high cost of running them, optimizing on available infrastructure can help boost your revenues.
Using predictive analytics can help optimize OR scheduling, enabling you to take care of as many patients as your available ORs can reasonably handle. This not only boosts revenue, but it also helps dramatically improve patient outcomes. Emergency surgeries can be addressed as soon as an OR is made available without the delays associated with the use of emails, faxes, and other traditional communication tools to relay this information.
2. Automate to optimize patient discharges.
Optimizing patient discharges allows for quicker bed occupancy. As patients leave the hospitals and new beds become available, filling up this space as soon as possible can help decompress your emergency department and improve patient outcomes. For big hospitals, especially ones considered as trauma centers, emergency departments can be quite crowded, and this may lead to lower patient outcomes.
In such cases, using software that help track beds, and notify the system as soon as a bed is available can help bridge this gap. If you run a smaller practice without an IT department, you can still take advantage of small business IT support to make recommendations on the most cost-effective technologies to adopt to optimize patient discharges. Ultimately, you want to have every bed occupied with 10-15 minutes as long as you have patients on standby.
3. Leverage on virtual healthcare.
One interesting aspect of healthcare evolution is the increasing popularity of virtual healthcare. Although sometimes used synonymously with telehealth, virtual healthcare is, in fact, a subset of telehealth, which allows patients to interact with clinicians through video or audio. It is a slight shift from the traditional healthcare model where patients have to go look for care. With virtual health, you can interact with your patients remotely through IT solutions, such as videoconferencing.
From the patient’s perspective, virtual healthcare saves on time and costs, especially if the concern is not big enough to warrant an in-person visit. You can connect with past patients for follow-ups and have them come in when it is really necessary.
From a hospital’s perspective, virtual healthcare can help save costs and help serve most patients without having to hire more workers. For example, virtual healthcare can allow your patients to interact with a specialist remotely. You do not have to hire all sorts of specialists, especially if you are trying to keep costs low. Using small business IT support, your help desk technician can set up video conferences with specialists and save you and your patient’s money and time.
For more information
Take your operational efficiency to the next level. For more information, contact Scale Technology at (501) 213-1732 to speak with an IT professional about installing the latest and best healthcare solutions at a fraction of the cost.