Can Digital Technologies Be Used to Transform Healthcare Quality? YES!
Healthcare providers are digitally transforming to drive value-based care (75% of providers currently participate in at least one value-based payment model, and over 60% soon expect value-based to become the dominant payment model). This paradigm shift, combined with advances in CRM and EHR technology, creates an unprecedented opportunity for providers to transform healthcare quality.
These digital transformation plans, however, must be driven by objective measures of clinical quality to improve costs, value and overall care. Communication infrastructure plays a significant role in how well hospitals meet these core measures of quality improvement. Specifically, hospitals need a digital omnichannel solution that flexibly integrates cloud, social, mobile, AI and IoT to streamline communications and simplify complex processes across the entire healthcare environment.
Let’s look at some examples of this improvement, from administrative challenges to care team coordination to patient communication:
- Care team coordination: When an ER physician decides to admit a patient, he or she will place an order in the EMR system. A digital omnichannel solution can intelligently coordinate communications by automatically triggering messages to key personnel, delivering a streamlined approach that facilitates handoffs and creates a positive impact on the time from arrival to discharge in the ER for an admitted patient. A message can be triggered, for example, to the bed placement specialist who can then determine if a bed is available in the unit. Or, a message can be triggered to the on-call transport team to pick up a patient. This is a key CMS measure for critical access hospitals.
- Patient safety: Communication failure between caregivers, hospital staff and patients is a leading cause of sentinel failures that can result in serious injuries or delayed treatments. With the number of chronic illnesses growing, hospitals must intelligently manage bedside communications to avoid the risks of missed alarms and alarm fatigue (consider that a 2014 UCSF study recorded an average 187 audible alarms per hospital bed per day). A digital omnichannel solution can automatically route alerts to the right person at the right moment to improve response times and health outcomes. The flexible integration of AI can also deliver real-time answers to patient questions via chat bot technology, then routing them to the appropriate responder (for example, a request for another pillow could be routed to a nursing aide rather than being added to a nurse’s clinical duties). These capabilities can help significantly improve a hospital’s HCAHPS patient satisfaction score.
- Admission, discharge and registration: Consider, for example, using third-party cloud applications to build a custom service that seamlessly populates key financial, insurance, demographic and clinical information into the EMR system to streamline patient registration processes. Similarly, customized discharge guidelines can be integrated into the virtual care assistant and automatically delivered to patients to streamline the process. Patients can consume the discharge instructions at their own pace and communicate with clinical staff if further intervention is required. For this, co-browsing and chat bot communications can be used to maximize staff efficiencies and simplify the process. These capabilities help further improve patient satisfaction measures.
- Multi-location communications: In large, multi-hospital healthcare systems, the idea of a bunker for specialists to monitor multiple facilities is gaining momentum. In such environments, a digital omnichannel solution—built on flexible system integration—can help bedside clinicians quickly rally caregivers by leveraging on-call schedules, staff assignments, escalation processes and the communication preferences of responders. This is a key CMS measure in terms of patients receiving care, especially for life-threatening diseases within the golden hour.
Communication barriers that exist between hospital departments make navigating clinical processes a challenge for patients and providers alike. Hospitals need an advanced omnichannel solution that delivers an integrated, digital communication approach across the entire health organization to effectively meet measures of quality improvement and support the overall patient journey.