Giving Time Back to Clinicians

By Susmit Pal, Healthcare Field Director, Dell EMC
Twitter: @DellEMCHealth
Twitter: @SusmitPalAtDell

Next-generation connected health solutions are helping clinicians be more efficient, patients more engaged, and IT more receptive to the needs of the modern healthcare system

Connected, intelligent healthcare organizations are reclaiming a precious commodity: time—more specifically, time to spend with patients.

Leveraging the latest in mobile, IoT, integrated compute, multi-cloud, and predictive analytics, these organizations are helping to transform the way that their clinicians work, making them more productive and efficient so that they can transform the way that they serve their patients.

This level of transformation, however, goes beyond technology. It requires disruption from the inside out. It requires an understanding of the day-to-day challenges and workflows of both the clinical and administrative staffs. And true transformation requires personalization—an intimate understanding and cooperation between IT and the clinical teams it supports. Those who have either achieved or are undergoing transformation all started with a basic question:

Is it time to change?
For most, the answer is yes, and time, or the lack thereof, is acting as a catalyst.

The digitization of medical records has certainly opened doors in terms of improving access to critical patient information at the point of care and beyond. Timely access to patient data across mobile and fixed devices—at remote and on-premises care locations—has led to more coordinated care, and in many cases, that access has produced notable increases in the health-related safety of patients and patient welfare.

Yet with this increased digitization, clinicians now report that much of their day is taken up by having to enter, access, and/or review patient data. In fact, the Annals of Internal Medicine found that for every hour spent with patients, physicians spend two on administrative tasks, which include EHRs. Often, these tasks add an additional one to two hours of after-hours work to an already extended day. As you can imagine, this added time can take a toll and contribute to clinicians’ feeling burnt out. According to a recent report by MedScape, the majority of physicians who reported experiencing burnout cited bureaucratic tasks, such as charting and paperwork, as the cause.

Patients are also feeling the effects. Physician-patient interactions are often given as one of the most critical components to quality care, but doctors are finding that they’re spending more time interacting with devices and applications than with their patients. And patients are returning the sentiment. In the Physicians Foundation 2017 Patient Survey, only 11 percent of patients and 14 percent of physicians report that they have all the time they need together.

Most agree that it’s time the dynamics shifted. We need to enable clinicians to be more efficient in the use of technology in their daily workflows so that they can spend more time and engage more efficiently with patients.

The power of personalized connections
Connected health holds great promise. New connected health innovations are leading to smarter, faster, and more accurate interactions between people, devices, data, analytics, and applications—helping to transform the way care is being delivered and how caregivers work. The Partners Center for Connected Health, for example, uses a combination of remote monitoring, wireless, and online communications and intelligence to improve engagement and clinical outcomes.

This type of connected ecosystem can work for both patient and clinician only when the right technology is configured in the right way for the right job function and workflow. A busy nurse requires always-on, mobile solutions with quick, secure access to critical patient data at the bedside, at the nurses’ station, and often even remotely for virtual care and reporting. A radiologist, in comparison, may not require the same level of on-the-go mobility but does require high-performance computing with access to advanced analytics such as machine-learning-enabled imaging solutions and connectivity for collaborative consults. Still further, an EMS paramedic requires mobile, connected, and rugged devices that can withstand extreme environments without risk of failure.

Healthcare organizations can improve caregiver workflow and productivity by:

  • Taking a persona-based approach to selecting the right end-user computing technology: The persona approach factors in the role, workflow, and location of service to determine the right level of clinical mobility and accessibility requirements to enhance user experience. Over 82 percent of workers believe that truly customized technology would make them more productive.
  • Modernizing their application-delivery strategy: Virtualization is essential as we think about always-on and secure instant-access capabilities, especially as the number of applications being deployed is rapidly increasing. Streamlining clinical workflows requires a consistent, simple, secure way of accessing these applications anytime, anywhere, and on any device. That’s where digital clinical workspaces come into play, providing a unified user, desktop, and mobile access-management solution for secure, simple access to patient information. A recent study indicates clinicians can save twenty to thirty minutes per shift by moving to single sign-on (SSO), tap-n-go, and other session-transfer technologies.
  • Automating device life-cycle management: With an ever-growing number of devices and different operating systems, platforms, and apps, IT must continue to focus on streamlining and automating system deployment, configuration, support, and retirement to drive down total cost of ownership and free up resources for innovation. Device life-cycle management can reduce total end-user computing costs by 25 percent or more.

Emerging connected-health innovations such as virtual and augmented reality, cognitive computing, and image analytics using machine learning and AI can further empower the modern workforce to offload repetitive, mundane tasks, obtain insights into patients and populations, streamline IT management, and identify the best care pathways to improve outcomes and control costs.

Getting started
To begin, healthcare IT organizations should develop a persona-based connected health strategy involving key stakeholders from each department, outlining the needed workforce transformation requirements, keeping open communications with clinical staff, and providing on-the-job training and support when needed.

From there, healthcare organizations can leverage next-generation end-user computing technologies, so their clinicians become more mobile, more connected, and more personalized. By becoming more efficient, clinicians can do what matters most: spend time with their patients for overall better care.