Guest Column | January 27, 2020

How HIT Can Fix Hospitals With Too Many Patients And Not Enough Staff

By Geoff Gross, Medical Guardian

Patient Recruitment

Generally speaking, healthcare costs in the U.S. are high — but the problem goes beyond treatment costs. Poor patient outcomes drive up the price tag significantly, and a big part of the problem is that healthcare organizations are overpopulated with patients while understaffed with qualified providers.

When doctors and other healthcare staff are already overworked, providing personalized, highly responsive care that will better patient outcomes — and therefore reduce healthcare costs — seems like a daunting challenge. But many hospitals are turning to new health information technology to remedy the problem.

Easing The Burdens On Healthcare Staff

Consider that, on a typical day, doctors in the U.S. only spend about 27 percent of their time treating patients. The rest of it is devoted to administrative tasks, most of which can be easily simplified with the help of advanced healthcare tech. Those tasks also account for a significant number of healthcare staff’s work hours, and the strain they put on the workflow diminishes an organization’s ability to prioritize patient care.

This is one area where the benefits of new information technology in the healthcare sphere are already clear. By digitizing administrative tasks, healthcare organizations can lighten the load for healthcare staff. Digital administration tools, such as electronic medical records systems, simplify and speed up processes, giving staff more time to focus on patient care.

A Long-Term Look At Innovative HIT

Aside from digitizing the administrative side of things, innovative healthcare technology also aims to collect better patient data and make it more readily available to hospital staff. By creating multiple points for health-related data collection and making it easy for doctors, specialists, and care teams to rapidly communicate and share that data, advanced health tech can have a significant impact in bettering patient outcomes. Here are a few ways hospitals are using data-focused and other health IT today:

  1. IoT-Driven AutoBed

Mt. Sinai Medical Center has implemented an IoT-driven AutoBed, which automatically assesses patient needs based on 15 different metrics. This has helped the health center reduce wait times for 50 percent of its emergency room patients. Similar IoT-connected solutions are helping other healthcare organizations improve workflow by tracking staff, patients, and inventory to create efficiencies in day-to-day activities.

  1. Capacity Command Center

The Johns Hopkins Hospital has been using the Judy Reitz Capacity Command Center, which was created in partnership with GE Healthcare, for several years. The Command Center uses advanced systems engineering and predictive analytics to coordinate patient services while reducing patient wait time and resolving any bottlenecks. The Command Center is in one room with 24 hospital employees from varying departments. A wall of computer monitors in the room allows staff to have full-view awareness. Fourteen different IT systems throughout the hospital send real-time data to the Command Center, where that data triggers immediate responses from staffers.

  1. Telemedicine Prescriptions

Recent years have seen the growth of telemedicine companies that are able to prescribe, fill, and deliver prescriptions to patients who need to do little more than click some buttons on a website or app. Nurx is one such company that has prescribed and delivered birth control through a mobile app since 2015. Last year, it expanded into other areas of reproductive health by offering at-home lab tests for those seeking HIV-preventing medication, and this year, the company launched STI test kit delivery as well. Such services are a boon for people in more rural areas or those who fear the stigma of seeking help for these conditions.

Telemedicine not only improves access to healthcare and prescriptions for patients in underserved areas, it lessens the number of people seeking these services in physical healthcare facilities. This could mean fewer patients and a lighter workload for staff. What’s more, convenient and reliable pharmacy delivery programs make it much easier for patients to adhere to their prescription regimens — which can lead to better health outcomes overall.

  1. Fraudscope

According to one estimate from the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association, healthcare fraud costs around $68 billion annually — about 3 percent of the nation’s total healthcare spending. Fraudscope, an AI-assisted platform, is working to combat that problem and bring costs down with a system that automatically identifies potential for fraud, waste, and abuse when it comes to hospital resources.

Internet-connected devices, artificial intelligence, and other technologies are fueling the development of healthcare technology that can help hospitals increase efficiency, lower healthcare costs, and ultimately better patient outcomes. Any hospital with similar goals will benefit from evaluating how innovative health IT can fit into their systems.

About The Author

Geoff Gross is the founder and CEO of Medical Guardian, a leading provider of personal emergency response and connected care solutions. Geoff's passion for the connected care, healthcare tech, and IoT industries is the basis for the mission of Medical Guardian — to empower customers to live a life without limits. With 14 years of experience in the personal emergency response systems industry, Geoff has positioned Medical Guardian to empower its customers through innovative products that offer protection at home and everywhere they go.