How Hospitals Will Use Technology to Save Lives and Money

August 11, 2023
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In 1999, the Institute of Medicine published its landmark report “To Err Is Human” about medical errors and patient harm. One proposed solution was to utilize technology in increasing amounts to enhance patient safety. More than 20 years later, patient care technology is rapidly changing and transforming healthcare. From electronic medical records to barcode medication administration and much more, there are numerous advancements enhancing patient safety and improving outcomes.  

The challenges to the healthcare landscape have meant companies are looking to how improvements in technology can enhance patient safety while also making the always-demanding jobs of nurses and allied health professionals easier. Keep reading to learn more about the next-gen advancements improving patient care, healthcare staff retention, and workforce stabilization with predictive analytics.

How Hospitals and Health Systems Are Using New Tech in the Clinical Setting

Companies are developing new tech seemingly every day—but for larger organizations, there are challenges to implementation, education, and safety in rolling these out. The following are some trends impacting healthcare systems in technological advancements.  

Reducing Medical Errors

Electronic health records can enhance patient safety through promoting safe medication administration, among other considerations. For example, electronic medical record use reduced medication administration errors by 53% in emergency departments, reports a study in the journal Einstein. Incorporating clinical decision support tools into an electronic health record (such as recognizing drug-to-drug interactions) reduced medication errors by 11.7%, according to a study from the Pew Research Trust.  

Another example of technology supporting medical error reduction is radiofrequency identification, which uses computer-based systems to trigger pharmacies or supply managers when medications and supplies have expired within the hospital. These “smart” labels contain ready-to-read data the manufacturer applies when sending the product. As a result, professionals can remove expired and potentially harmful stock from reaching patients more quickly.  

Advisory Board explains how medical error reduction has many other technological applications:

  • Fall Prevention: Schedule staffing reminders for patient rounding for those at high risk for falls.  
  • Infection Risks: Quality and safety updates, protocols, and rounding implemented into healthcare professional dashboards can help to reduce infection risks for central lines and catheter-associated urinary tract infections.  
  • Surgical Complications: Utilize patient algorithms to predict risks for adverse events, such as blood clots or sepsis.  
Medication Safety

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) states that the most common medication errors occur during the ordering or prescribing stage or when the provider enters the wrong dose. Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems have dramatically decreased these and other medication errors. According to the AHRQ, one study identified a 78% increase in necessary medication discontinuation after utilizing the CPOE.  

Healthcare professionals utilize advancements to enhance patient safety by receiving drug allergy alerts and medication interaction warnings. These alerts can act as a safety check but help professionals retain the power to override warnings using their knowledge and discretion. An AHRQ study of medication overrides determined only 9.3% were inappropriately overridden.  

An extension of the CPOE and next-gen step in medication safety is to develop algorithms that identify patients needing medication follow-ups, including laboratory testing, medication reconciliation, or continued education.

Improved Communication Between Staff

Because poor patient-to-provider and provider-to-provider communications can result in delays and poor patient outcomes, the AHRQ reasons that enhanced communication can improve patient care. However, HIPAA-compliant communications systems remain a challenge to many healthcare organizations.  

Companies such as Microsoft and Cisco have released HIPAA-compliant video communications and file-sharing platforms that allow healthcare professionals to consult with each other and even message for assistance with needed tasks. Messaging on electronic health platform systems delivered securely to a healthcare professional’s smartphone enables enhanced communication. These allow busy professionals to complete their current tasks and securely communicate. These platforms also cut down on the large paper systems at many nurses’ stations where professionals had to search for needed phone numbers. Providers can connect more quickly by accessing the right person with a simple search.  

Remote Patient Monitoring

An article from Insider Intelligence projects that more than 30 million patients in the U.S. will use remote patient monitoring tools by 2024. Continuous glucose monitors, digital blood pressure monitors, and pacemakers transmitting information regarding heart rhythms are just some of the remote monitoring examples. The latest challenge for this field is miniaturization, or making these wearables smaller and comfortable enough so the general public can better embrace them. This tech allows health professionals to connect with patients and obtain more information to make care management decisions.

To read more about the latest advancements in remote patient monitoring, check out “How to Suppport Your Healthcare Staff with Telehealth and Telemonitoring”  on our Health Carousel blog.  

Healthcare Facility and Staff Benefits  

Technology isn’t always synonymous with improvements for staff—learning curves for new tech and software, plus seemingly endless additional demands for charting, present challenges. The superior technologies save nurses and allied health professionals time while enhancing patient safety.  

While new tech provides the “how” healthcare innovations can improve patient safety, a “why” must also exist. Organizations and professionals must weigh the potential benefits with the training and risks.  

Facilities can experience the following benefits with patient safety technology implementation:   

  • Improved Staff Retention: Keeping hard-working and loyal staff is challenging for any healthcare facility. When healthcare professionals know they are providing safe care and have support through technology-based safety checks and algorithms, they feel best equipped to do their jobs.
  • Improved Planning and Staffing: Stabilize your healthcare workforce with predicitive analytics. You can forecast your future staffing needs and lower costs, by utilizing internal technology platforms or with strategic staffing company partnerships. These efforts ultimately translate to better control regarding finances and patient care management.
  • Maximized Staff Talents: Talented nurses and allied health professionals with leadership skills should be able to work at the top of their abilities. However, staffing demands and frustrations about the need for increased support can keep those who love to provide patient care away from the bedside. By streamlining processes whenever possible with enhanced technology, staff can practice at the top of their scope.

Staff can benefit from using enhanced technology in the following ways:   

  • Providing Avenues to Keep Veteran Nurses Employed: Embracing tech allows veteran nurses to use their skill sets in knowledge, leadership, and patient education to shift from physically demanding roles when possible. They can train new healthcare professionals or those new to particular processes or tech.
  • Freeing Bedside Professionals: Enhanced tech can remove or outsource non-hands-on needs, so those who wish to engage in direct patient care can do so.  
  • Enhancing Opportunities to Retain Employees: Offering nurses the opportunity to advance their careers as virtual nurses once they gain experience, provides a new employee pathway that can help retain nurses wishing to attain more flexible nursing options.  

Patient Benefits

One of the most significant potential patient benefits is risk stratification for patients using predictive models. A constant challenge for health professionals is prioritizing: who to assess first, who is most at risk for adverse outcomes, and what medications they must give sooner. Artificial intelligence and computer-based algorithms can add a layer of protection by flagging who is most at risk based on even small changes in laboratory values or vital sign readings.  

Healthcare professionals are also using risk predictors to closely evaluate surgical patients in determining a patient’s acuity and needed data to gather before clearing a patient for surgery. These predictors help health professionals identify who needs added monitoring and nursing care. According to one study in Frontiers in Digital Health, preoperative evaluation clinics that evaluate high-risk patients have shown improvements in 30-day outcomes compared to those who didn’t participate in the clinics.  

Embracing technology offers additional patient benefits that include the following:

  • A better understanding of their treatment plan by providing follow-up support and additional reliable resources
  • A greater sense of control over their care and the comfort that can come from knowing a healthcare professional is monitoring them  

Patients are at the heart of any healthcare organization’s mission. Organizations must keep patients at the center when evaluating new tech options.

How Health Carousel Can Help  

Health Carousel's technology gives healthcare facilities more control with full transparency throughout the entire staffing process, and scalable, customized solutions. It means better fill rates, improved patient care, and lower costs. We also track healthcare delivery trends, with key focuses on recruiting and placement, and uses these market insights to design effective solutions. Some of the ways we accomplish this include the following:  

  • Digital Talent Acquisition: We use an innovative recruiting engine that captures the customer’s needs in regards to assignment lengths, skill sets, and geographic locations (including international placements). This enhanced process allows applicants to self-qualify for potential placements through our talent portal technology.
  • Vendor Neutral and Sustainable Solution: We use a revolutionary technology created specifically for healthcare leaders with real-time reporting on performance and other key metrics. It’s customizable and intuititve, so healthcare facility leaders can keep the focus on patient care while lowering costs.  

Health Carousel constantly seeks technology that streamlines our health partner’s experience to get highly qualified healthcare professionals to the bedside where they can care for patients. Patients, professionals, and the healthcare system benefit overall when staffing gaps are filled, and Health Carousel proudly plays this strategic role in healthcare efficiency.  

Click here to learn more about Health Carousel’s workforce solutions.  

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About Health Carousel

Health Carousel is committed to partnering with world-class healthcare facilities across the country, providing rewarding assignments for Registered Nurses and Allied Health Professionals, and attracting the best internal talent at all career levels.