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Aug 12, 2019

How Can Technology Better Support Acute Patient Care?

Estimated reading time: 4-6 minutes

While health systems are committed to delivering on the quadruple aim of providing patients with the best care and outcomes possible, it is still a balancing act. With clinician shortages and the need to keep costs low, improving clinical and operational efficiencies without compromising care is no easy task.

 

Managing patient flow in acute care continues to be a high priority for many health systems. Patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) account for the highest costs in hospitals and pose the greatest risk for hospital-acquired infections. In addition to associated costs and health concerns, ICU patients tend to receive a bad reputation due to lengthy stays and can be considered “bottleneck patients.” These patients are frequently delayed in getting transferred out of the ICU to the lower acuity department, which can hinder the ability to admit incoming patients as there aren’t enough beds. This causes overly-crowded, disorganized ICUs, but also delays patients receiving the appropriate treatment to get them to recover in their homes quicker. 

It’s clear there needs to be a change in the way we manage these patients and the ICU utilization, but – as I covered in my previous post – this need also comes at a time when providers are strapped for time more than ever before.

Jacob Durgan

business leader of Patient Care Analytics, Philips

Along with over-crowded ICUs and waiting rooms, hospitals are filled with hundreds of medical devices producing an infinite amount of data – it’s overwhelming to the everyday person, but imagine the stress and inundation of information our clinicians are experiencing. Physicians often report feeling overworked, which can lead to high rates of burnout and increased risk for medical errors. Not only does this burden impact physicians mentally, but it is also taxing to hospitals economically. A recent study shows that having physicians in the clinic for fewer hours or having to replace those who leave the profession can cost the industry up to an average of $4.6 billion yearly.

 

Despite current challenges, there’s no need to lose hope in how we’re planning to close these gaps in care and improve patient flow throughout the hospital. A vital part of the solution? Clinical operation centers, or commonly known as command centers. We’re beginning to see the rise of command centers across the U.S. as health systems realize the potential – both in reducing costs and clinician burnout, while not compromising care for patients.

Tackling healthcare’s biggest challenges with virtual command centers

Hospital command centers have been gaining traction in recent years. In the current healthcare climate, there is a movement away from centers that are in “command and control,” and the need for widespread adoption is crucial to improve patient outcomes and workflow efficiencies. As an industry, we continuously highlight the importance of the right care, in the right place, at the right time. To make this statement a reality, command centers are the answer, with the necessary components to better manage patient flow and logistics with monitors that display actionable insights. 

 

Like most tech solutions in healthcare, command centers have continuously evolved since their inception. The first generation of command centers focused on operations, but now, the next-generation centers are incorporating clinical metrics to drive operational decisions and improve the quality of care. With advanced clinical-decision support, workflow change management and integrated audio-visual technology, command centers have the ability to help reduce medical complications before they occur. Clinicians no longer need to check patients’ vital signs periodically. With telehealth and advanced connected solutions, they have a clear view into a patient’s condition through a continuous live-stream of data flowing from bedside monitors to the command center. Here, intelligent algorithms help identify and prioritize patients for early intervention, providing physicians with the information necessary to make the best, most accurate decisions for the patient. Its predictive, virtual capabilities also ensure downstream bed availability by coordinating ICU transfers and floor discharges – all components that should make command centers an essential strategy for improving ICU utilization. 

Striking the balance in healthcare

The healthcare industry is filled with complexities, which isn’t news to any of us – but patient care and physician well-being shouldn’t be compromised because of them. We, as an industry, need to find a balance – and command centers are a big part of how we can find that equilibrium. Virtual solutions like command centers are the saving grace to being attentive to patients’ needs, yet also improving clinicians’ workflow. With these implementations, we’re one step closer to tackling healthcare’s biggest operational and economical challenges.

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Author

Jacob Durgan

Jacob Durgan

Business Leader, Patient Care Analytics at Philips

Jacob Durgan is the GM of Patient Care Analytics at Philips where he leads the organisation addressing the needs of healthcare providers in the acute care space with informatics and broader enterprise telehealth solutions.

 

Prior to this role, Jacob was the Commercial Leader for Healthcare Informatics, where he was responsible for leading the commercial function across global markets for EHR, Radiology PACS, Cardiology Informatics, Oncology Informatics and Advanced Visualization.

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