The implementation of value-based care is encouraging healthcare organizations to strive for efficiency, cost control and sustainability to obtain optimal reimbursement levels. One proven strategy to achieve these goals is through mergers and acquisitions, which are increasing rapidly. In fact, the industry reported 115 transactions in 2017, the largest total in recent history, followed by 90 in 2018.
To help healthcare organizations standardize workflow and optimize outcomes amidst consolidation, a new generation of technology, such as the Enterprise nurse call system platform, has emerged to provide a solid IT foundation across all campuses and departments while supporting clinical staff, protocols and quality of care. These solutions connect patients, caregivers and facilities through smart healthcare data collection and superior data analysis, allowing the information to be translated into actionable insight throughout an organization.
Building a strong IT foundation that enables cross-functionality – bridging IT and clinical teams – starts with understanding where there is opportunity for improvement. Below are six tips for optimizing your technology to take your healthcare data analytics to the next level.
Tip #1: Centralize Your Servers
Any organization must build from the ground up, establishing a framework to support current and future needs. The same rule applies to IT infrastructure, particularly within a growing healthcare organization or a health system. A solid IT foundation with centralized servers dramatically decreases costs while increasing security, access and ease of scalability in the event of future growth. A single IT architecture, like the Responder® Enterprise platform, reduces capital and operational expenses, freeing up resources to support clinical programs, increase patient safety and boost satisfaction.
Consider a solution that integrates into an existing user management environment to simplify operations for IT and clinical teams. With a centralized resource, clinical teams will be empowered with complete clinical transparency across all departments and facilities. This, in turn, strengthens the quality of care and improves outcomes through unbridled access to up-to-date healthcare data when it's needed most.
Tip #2: Protect All Data
In the past decade, healthcare data breaches have been on an upward trend, with 2018 marking the highest number at 365 incidents. Between 2009 and 2018, there have been 2,546 data breaches involving more than 500 records, resulting in the theft and exposure of 189,945,874 healthcare records – equal to more than 59 percent of the U.S. population.
Despite many advances in healthcare data security, a recent survey in Beckers Hospital Review found 82 percent of hospital information security leaders reported a “significant security incident” in the last year, often the result of complacency with protective practices. Depending on the circumstances, penalties for the HIPAA violations associated with these breaches can reach multi-million-dollar fines if issues are allowed to persist for several years or if multiple violations occur.
To avoid jeopardizing patient information and paying hefty fines, organizations should ensure patient data is protected at all times in a secure system. To properly protect patient healthcare data, look for an IT solution that supports protected user management and role-based security to ensure only authenticated users are authorized to access sensitive data. The technology should work consistently enterprise-wide to block hackers while enabling verified access to support clinical teams.
Tip #3: Scale Your Needs
Not only are hospital and health system acquisitions and mergers on the rise, but the value of those deals is increasing as well. The average size of a seller by revenue has grown nearly 14 percent annually since 2008, reaching a new high of $409 million in 2018. With these major deals, many organizations are expanding into new markets and significantly altering their clinical and operational demands.
Technology solutions are a significant investment, particularly for a health system network or growing healthcare organization. During merger and acquisition activity, it can be cost-prohibitive to implement a new framework with each major organizational change. Rather, focus on establishing a strong IT foundation that offers scalable architecture to accommodate change such as adding or removing a facility from the system.
Similarly, smaller hospitals face unique challenges and tighter budgets. A technology solution that offers cost-effective options without sacrificing scalability is a smart investment. These flexible solutions should grow and respond to change while reducing the server footprint. The right healthcare data analysis and collection resources then measure and compare key performance indicators as staff levels fluctuate, providing a consistent stream of metrics and insight to support decision making.
Tip #4: Increase Accessibility
Technology has become a critical component of modern healthcare, playing a crucial role in clinical, administrative and operational teams throughout an organization. When IT systems go down or otherwise make healthcare data inaccessible, the consequences can be significant – costing hospitals and health systems valuable time, money and productivity.
According to Interbrit Data, healthcare facilities face an average cost of $740,357 per downtime incident, or $8,851 per minute, depending on the length of the outage and complexity of the system. More importantly, patient safety and the delivery of patient care are jeopardized when IT solutions fail or deny access to providers seeking information. When clinical teams cannot review the most up-to-date patient healthcare data needed to make sound decisions regarding care, clinical workflow and productivity are severely impacted, resulting in lower patient satisfaction as the quality of care and responsiveness of providers diminishes.
Therefore, it is important to make sure a hospital or health system has a strong IT foundation in place that not only provides optimal healthcare data security but also offers high accessibility to reduce interruptions to patient care and minimize costly downtime. By reducing single points of failure, the right system will increase availability to the appropriate teams across multiple locations and departments, ensuring easy access to information and communications.
Tip #5: Standardize Workflow
Hospitals and health systems are facing rising labor costs while simultaneously battling shortages in physicians and nurses nationwide. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index found hospital total employment compensation increased 2.3 percent in 2016 and 2 percent in 2017, while shortage of physicians is predicted to exceed 121,000 by 2030. One way to keep employee-related costs controlled when managing thin teams is by improving and standardizing workflows.
With standardized technology, powerful integrations and value-added services, the right IT platform will empower clinical teams to apply best practices across multiple facilities, improving quality of care and overall productivity. Staff can create, support and optimize standardized workflows, utilizing them consistently across the entire network for smoother operation, increased efficiency, and a higher level of patient and staff safety. Centralized change management lets modifications to healthcare data be made quickly and easily, while staff assignment and phone integration allows hospitals to standardize the sign-on process and reduce time spent at shift changes.
With constant reporting and analysis, teams can leverage the technology to review and improve training, processes, and protocols to help achieve consistent and repeatable outcomes regardless of location. Staff and performance dashboards should highlight staff activity, facilitate workflows evaluation, and drive care plan compliance. As best practices are developed and evolve, the Enterprise platform will ensure they are easily learned and replicated across clinical teams through congruent workflow capabilities. This, in turn, will support strong delivery of care and improved patient outcomes.
Tip #6: Extend Open Integrations
Just as hospitals and health systems want to avoid costly IT downtime, it is equally important to enable smoother future rollouts for IT teams and extend open integrations, which help reduce the financial impact associated with IT investments and updates. This is a pain point for many organizations, as a recent survey of healthcare technology leaders revealed 65 percent believe costly and inefficient fixes to technology infrastructure pose a major threat to the bottom line and delivery of care, while 72 percent think transitioning to a new IT platform will impact their billing cycles.
With the right IT platform and additional clinical integrations, however, teams have access to more choices and opportunities to improve productivity and patient care. A variety of integrations allows teams to optimize system usage, care plans, and other healthcare data to ensure patients receive the highest level of care and attention. In opening up the IT platform to more integrations, hospitals, and health systems can enjoy improved capabilities and performance, which in turn supports optimized outcomes in all facilities.
When selecting an IT platform to operate across several locations, it is not enough to simply collect data and share results. Teams must understand how best to utilize available information and technology to improve workflow efficiency and clinical outcomes.
To optimize healthcare data use, consider areas where small but meaningful improvements can be made, without significant investments in hardware or additional manpower. The Enterprise platform will provide consistent healthcare data analysis, protection, and collection for an entire organization, generating actionable insight to strengthen quality of care and improve outcomes. Work with a seasoned provider offering programs that can be scaled to meet the needs of the organization now and in the future.