Healthcare is one of the most technologically driven industries in the world today. Medical science and technology go hand in hand for patient diagnosis, care, and treatment through the utilization of high-end machines and medical equipment.
Whether your healthcare organization follows a manual or semi-automatic process, you may experience delays in patient care, higher administrative costs, and a poor workflow process. Every year, healthcare institutions spend significant money on administrative and repetitive operations, resulting in increased overhead costs. By streamlining procedures and optimizing processes, healthcare facilities can reduce costs, improve productivity, enhance patient care, and increase revenues. Here are six efficient and effective ways to streamline healthcare procedures:
1. Bar-Coded Medication Administration (BCMA)
One of the most critical tasks for nurses is timely and correct medication administration to inpatients. Any human error or medical negligence during this process can lead to dire consequences for the patient and the healthcare facility in the long run. Adopting bar-coded medication administration (BCMA) not only prevents human errors but also ensures the right drug is provided to the right patient at the precise time and in the right amount. Bar-coded medication administration electronically validates medication, provides necessary medical documentation, and empowers hospital staff to compare prescribed medicine with administering medicines to ensure conformity, improving accuracy and efficiency.
Bar-coded medication administration is a complete medical and electronic equipment system consisting of a barcode printer, medication barcode scanner, and mobile devices connected with a centralized hospital database and the internet. Together, they form a point-of-care (POC) system where prescribed medicine can be easily issued by the pharmacy by scanning the barcodes.
Nurses and caregivers can use mobile devices and medication barcode scanners to scan:
- barcodes at the back of the medicine being administered
- the patient’s wristbands, and
- the caregiver’s IDs to record data related to medication and the caregiver’s details.
It allows staff to counter-check medication and track medication records without writing them down manually on patient documents. Barcode drug administration systems have also proven effective for managing pharmaceutical inventories, invoicing patients, and streamlining the medication process.
2. Automating Repetitive Tasks
Recent pandemics have highlighted the importance of having staff available for patient care in healthcare facilities and the ability to respond effectively to the influx of patients in hospitals. When nurses and staff have to work hours to complete required paperwork and documentation, they cannot focus entirely on delivering quality patient care. Moreover, manual data entry into registers and patient forms often results in horrendous mistakes by stuff that could negatively impact the patient’s safety and experience.
By automating repetitive tasks, nurses and paramedic staff can use their time to focus on more productive tasks. Patient information is usually retrieved from electronic health records, so there is no need to fill out the entire digital form for each patient. Instead of recording histories on patient documents, doctors have the entire patient history available on the computer.
3. Consolidating Workflows
Whether it’s inpatient care, outpatient appointment, scheduled visits, laboratory procedures, invoicing, or medical claims, automated and consolidated workflows have become necessary for seamless information sharing and compliance with medical standards. Each medical procedure requires a smooth flow of information between various departments. Manual procedures can be extremely time-consuming, and instead of focusing on patient care, the nursing staff is on their toes to acquire or disseminate data from various departments. Because of departmental differences, the workflow in various departments may change at times, which affects the efficiency of mundane healthcare processes.
Consolidated workflows can assist in streamlining healthcare procedures. It not only decreases the chances of human errors and delays but also reduces the number of contact points during a process, thanks to the timely availability of information, push notifications, and reminders. Centralized databases, unified cloud-based platforms, shared digital workspace, and consolidated electronic workflows accelerate healthcare procedures and help doctors and management make informed decisions.
4. Optimize Patient Record Retrieval and Tracking
Access to the right data at the right time for the right patient can greatly help doctors and nurses streamline their routine operations and maximize efficiency in delivering quality patient care. Doctors can track patient progress using a single digital platform that allows access to laboratories, patient history, and health insurance records. Test reports, post-procedure notes, medical prescriptions, medication administration history, and care instructions are readily available to both nurses and doctors. The internet of medical things (IoMT) empowers doctors to monitor patient progress remotely and check vitals, including pulse rate, blood pressure, body temperature, ECG, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and more.
Healthcare facilities can shift to cloud-based healthcare systems and integrate multiple smaller information systems to allow a smooth flow of information and increased data integrity between departments. Modern healthcare systems on a SaaS-based (software-as-a-service) platform allows seamless integration with existing information systems like electronic health record, supply chain management systems, inventory management systems, and laboratory information systems.
Telemedicine has produced incredible results in the healthcare sector, particularly during high-demand scenarios such as the pandemic. When connected with the primary healthcare information system, telemedicine can greatly help streamline healthcare procedures. While outpatients can consult general medicine and specialists through phone lines, texts, and video conferencing, doctors and medical staff can access patient history through information systems instead of assessing patients’ medical history on call or documenting everything during the conversation.
To improve patient experience, healthcare facilities can introduce patient portals to communicate directly with the healthcare staff, check reports and prescriptions, and schedule audio/video or face-to-face appointments. During telemedicine sessions, doctors can directly update patient records accessible to the patient through the portal. It’ll create a new entry in the electronic health record and keep other doctors and healthcare facilities updated on virtual visits alongside planned clinical appointments.
6. Using Efficient Medical Equipment
The strength, durability, and reliability of medical equipment determine the success or failure of healthcare facilities. Outdated or slow medical equipment not only results in inaccuracies, operational inefficiencies, and procedural delays but also causes a decline in quality treatment.
To streamline healthcare procedures, it is critical for hospitals to purchase and maintain high-quality medical equipment with the latest features and user-friendly interfaces. Quality medical equipment ensures a smooth and consistent workflow and minimizes patient diagnosis and treatment delays. This way, using state-of-the-art medical equipment will aid healthcare facilities in making accurate diagnostics, facilitating therapeutic or surgical procedures, and maximizing productivity. It will also help reduce operational costs and overhead expenses and provide quality care to both inpatients and outpatients.
Hospitals need to streamline routine procedures and optimize complex processes to maintain high levels of patient care and increase operational efficiency. Technology undoubtedly sits at the core of the healthcare industry. However, using the right technology and equipment is essential for reducing human errors and improving medical services. Before adopting the latest technology, healthcare facilities must consider its long-term benefits and whether or not the prospective technology effectively optimizes the existing procedures. If you’re planning to invest in healthcare information systems, conduct an in-depth analysis to identify your healthcare business needs and objectives and ensure the prospective system can fulfill all your operational requirements.