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Improving the Quality and Efficiency of Healthcare Services with 4 Practices
Salman Rashid, Digital Marketing Analyst, RightPatient
Healthcare, especially in the U.S., has always been riddled with several issues even before the pandemic hit it with full force. A lack of price transparency, astronomical prices, a lack of proper interoperability, patient matching issues, medical errors, patient safety incidents, and medical identity theft are just some of them. However, with the pandemic, a lot of healthcare providers had to rapidly adapt to the changes, leading to the explosion of healthcare IT. While the pandemic seems to be at an end, some healthcare IT trends have been witnessed that help in improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare services. That being said. let’s take a closer look at the most prominent healthcare IT trends.
Putting IT teams in charge of transforming healthcare
CIOs and IT teams have always been an integral part of healthcare providers. However, the pandemic has made them one of the most important teams within hospitals. Ultimately, IT teams were the ones who helped healthcare employees transition to remote work, many of whom are still working from home. Moreover, IT teams also helped implement virtual care and ensure that communication was properly maintained among relevant teams for smooth operations. Doing so helped healthcare professionals provide accurate care to remote patients in a safe manner that didn’t put either party at risk, improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare in the process.
Many healthcare providers still have some of their employees working remotely and are also providing virtual care to their patients. This goes to show that hospitals and health systems are ready for a modern digital workforce to support both in-person and virtual patients. There will be more changes down the road as these are untested waters, all of which will require further support from IT teams and CIOs. It looks like they will have a much more crucial role to play as healthcare services evolve in their organizations.
Adopting new cybersecurity practices or solutions
Unfortunately, data breaches have always been a weakness of hospitals and health systems. Not only are hackers trying to come up with new ways to steal patient information, but issues such as meager cybersecurity budgets also are impediments to preventing data breaches. While many hackers had said that they won’t attack healthcare providers, others did, unfortunately at a time when providers were at their most vulnerable stage.
This led to healthcare providers also take preventive measures such as restricting access to external emails entirely as well as screening them more strictly than ever. Since healthcare facilities are opening up, it’s quite likely that most of them will upgrade their cybersecurity measures - either by looking for new solutions or by implementing better practices.
Using innovative technological solutions
Technology has been a part of healthcare since the beginning, but recent advancements such as wearable technology, AR, and even robotics are seen in many healthcare facilities to carry out services, the latter to reduce direct contact due to the virus. There’s a lot on the horizon, as robotic surgery developments are being made, VR headsets are being used by providers for remote care, and more.
While the pandemic forced everyone to come up with new strategies to deal with the changing landscape, one of the aspects trending is “contactless” solutions. Virtually everyone knows about the pandemic and how the virus spreads. People are warier about healthcare facilities as they know COVID-19 patients have been there.
As a result, to reduce hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and boost patient confidence, many are focusing on contactless solutions. While there are many types of them being pitched or in development, there are contactless solutions already present such as touchless patient identification platforms that help with improving the quality and efficiency of healthcare services. Such solutions will help improve patient outcomes and ensure that HAIs are at bay, something that’s always been a huge concern for most caregivers but is now a concern of almost everyone.
While this does fall under the previous point, virtual sessions have become so huge that it deserves a point of its own.
By now, almost everyone knows how telehealth became a huge part of healthcare services. As hospitals were busy dealing with COVID-19 patients, they had to look at alternatives to provide care to their regular patients, but it had to be in a safe manner that didn’t put anyone at risk. Telehealth was the perfect tool for the scenario, and as regulations were relaxed, caregivers were encouraged to use telehealth to provide care to their non-critical patients. As a result, telehealth exploded and has become a crucial tool in healthcare.
While many say that the pandemic might be over, telehealth seems to be here to stay. More caregivers are urging to keep the regulations intact as there is a significant portion of their patients who are comfortable with telehealth. If telehealth becomes a regular part of healthcare even after the pandemic ends, then caregivers will be able to reduce patient volumes at their facilities physically, keeping surges in check, reducing medical errors, and improving operations in the process.
Final words on improving healthcare quality
Healthcare was already in the process of going through digital transformation, but the pandemic has forced it to change its methods. Trends such as big data, predictive analytics, AI, and machine learning are also being witnessed, but most of them need accurate and consistent information for them to work flawlessly and provide meaningful results.
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