Societal advances in technology have also changed patient and physician expectations. As a result of the widespread availability of smart phones and smart/wearable technology, patients and physicians have become used to having intuitive, interactive technology that brings information to their fingertips. Patients and physicians experience immediacy, access and flexibility from the technology in their homes and cars, and expect the same in a clinical setting. Patients want discussions with their doctor to be supported by images, scans and lab results and health records to be electronic and available on-demand, while physicians expect the technology they use to evolve to match the procedure. In a competitive hospital environment the physician and patient experiences are paramount.
Patients are also taking greater control over their healthcare decision-making, and services must be redesigned to better reflect patient needs and preferences. Data show that patients who engage in their own health have better outcomes, and in response healthcare systems around the world have strengthened the role of patients in their own care. It will be interesting to see how this trend continues to evolve and influence the interventional setting.
These key trends and patient, physician and hospital manager needs are universally true, although the specifics may differ in each in country. The decisions made by hospital managers to meet these needs are strongly influenced by financial incentives, and the sustainability of the hospital depends on them finding a compromise between what is best for the patient and what is best for the financial health of the institution.
So, in a challenging healthcare landscape how can hospital managers ensure interventional labs are future-proofed to match the growth in number and increasing diversity of procedures?
The rapid evolution of technology, coupled with a changeable healthcare landscape, makes it increasingly difficult for hospital managers to accurately forecast the future procedure mix. Consider the procedures being carried out in a cath lab ten years ago with those being conducted today; could the rapid adoption of TAVI (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation) have been predicted? How about the pressure on PCIs (Percutaneous Coronary Interventions) due to new insights that medical therapy is a better option for certain classes of patients?
As such, managers must ensure interventional labs are flexible and have the capacity to evolve as trends, technology, requirements and governments change. They must be efficient, to manage a large number of patients with consistently good outcomes. The systems within the lab should be standardized and easy-to-use, making full use of the latest image guided therapy technology to deliver intuitive, innovative solutions to patients in the treatment room. And finally, these systems should be seamlessly integrated, to make image guided therapy simpler, faster and deliver better; improving lab performance and care allows more patients to be seen and treated.