Imagine a hospital where patient data, hospital staff and equipment are all connected in real-time. Imagine if this made the patient experience visible from the time they were admitted to the hospital to the time they are discharged. Waiting time would be limited, patients would be aware of exactly when a doctor or nurse will arrive, when a procedure will start and when their test results will be ready.
Here’s the good news – health care providers can now stop imagining and start realizing the benefits of new technologies. What used to be an imaginary version of hospitals in the future has become a reality. And many predict that those technologies will soon become more than a convenience – they will become a necessity.
It is now possible for a hospital to have real-time visibility into the equipment and the staff that a patient’s procedure requires - and the digital intelligence to know where those assets and staff members are located, in order to facilitate the procedure efficiently. When a patient is discharged from the healthcare facility, test results can be ready in real-time, with doctors’ orders and educational materials that enable a positive healthcare outcome. Family and caregivers can even monitor their loved one’s progress inside the hospital and out.
These exciting new developments can provide patients with the high-quality healthcare they expect, whether they are in the hospital or at a medical office. But they can also offset challenges to healthcare providers that will only increase with time.
Past research indicates that more than half of a healthcare worker’s time encompasses vast amounts of paperwork and patient coordination. A nursing shortage is also predicted, according to the American Nurses Association. Consider that over the past decade, the average age of employed RNs has increased by nearly two years, from 42.7 years in 2000 to 44.6 years in 2010. In addition, hospitals still face a reality that includes thousands of patients perishing each year from infections and, most regrettably, human error.
Mitigating these challenges has now become possible through technology. Smart devices – connected to a reliable wireless network – can deliver access to timely, accurate and actionable patient data. And with the ability to input and access real-time data anywhere, health care workers can quickly identify a life-threatening drug allergy or quickly identify surgical procedure complications. Administrators also can see where their staff is, what activity they are performing and how well they are performing it. The ability to integrate this data with location information on specific medical supplies and equipment makes it easier to respond quickly to patient needs.
Better Visibility Improves Outcomes
In simple terms, technology can make the invisible visible – from supplies, equipment, staff and a patient’s health details. The benefits of arming nurses and other healthcare professionals with portable devices that can scan patient wristbands and connect to make critical patient information immediately available via wireless access points are significant. These devices can also streamline administrative processes and workflows so that nurses can spend more time responding to patients’ needs. Integrated solutions can bring complete patient data directly to the bedside, while they also enhance and facilitate greater collaboration between doctors and other healthcare practitioners.
Reaping Connected Benefits
Better quality patient care. More positive healthcare outcomes. More efficient and streamlined visibility into asset intelligence and operations. With thoughtful investment in integrated technology and an optimized management platform, the critical, life-saving goals of many healthcare organizations are now within reach. And it is the progressive organizations that will stand out in the competitive world that healthcare has become, while gaining the ultimate goal – to deliver outstanding service to every patient being cared for by a staff that feels proud and excited about providing optimal service.
At some point, we will all be patients. What level of patient care will you expect?
Ahmed Fahmy is a Director of Innovation & Business Development for the Enterprise Technology Office at Zebra Technologies Corporation. With more than 20 years of global experience in founding and managing digital solutions across verticals and startups within large corporations, Fahmy has a long history of recognized achievements.