Friday, 17 September 2021 07:33

Hospitals need more IT: report


Zebra Technologies' Smarter, More Connected Hospitals report suggests the sector needs to pay more attention to IT.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the efficiency of both clinical and administrative workflows," said Zebra Technologies global healthcare practice lead Chris Sullivan.

"As a result, today's healthcare leaders face the challenge of recalibrating technology systems to better support the needs of clinicians and patients."

Among the report's findings:

• 89% of executive decision-makers and 83% of clinicians responding agreed that real-time intelligence is essential for optimal patient care.

• 67% of hospital executives feel their organisations have not invested enough to maximise staff efficiency.

• Approximately two-thirds of executives acknowledge physicians and caregivers spend too much time locating medical equipment and supplies; over half report their administrative staff is overburdened and unable to complete their work during their shift.

* Approximately 80% of executives plan to automate workflows in the next year to improve supply chain management, make it easier to locate critical assets, better orchestrate emergency and operating rooms, and streamline staff scheduling.

• About three-quarters plan to use locationing technologies such as RFID to better track equipment and specimens, improve patient flow and security, create more dynamic workflows, and improve staff efficiency, safety and compliance.

"Hospital staff must be able to identify, track, locate and monitor the condition of every patient, staff and asset. A mobile device alone can't do that. That's why we're seeing rapid investment in locationing and automation solutions," said Sullivan.

"It's the technology that will work behind the scenes to improve front-line clinician workflows and the patient experience."

84% of respondents believe mobile devices and collaboration tools can help improve the quality of patient care, and 49% of surveyed executives provide employees with hospital-owned devices intended for healthcare. Durability and ruggedness are important considerations, along with remote device management capabilities and data security.

Given the pandemic conditions, attention has largely shifted to nurses assigned to emergency departments, critical and intensive care units, and operating rooms.

"Improving team communication is now a top goal of many hospitals, and executives are highly concerned about preventing the spread of infection and current staff burnout," said Zebra chief nursing informatics officer Rikki Jennings.

"There is also a push to automate the orchestration of high traffic areas such as emergency rooms and operating rooms in the next year, which requires departmental staff to have mobile devices in hand."

Other considerations include telehealth and remote patient tracking.

"More than ever, it is vitally important that all hospital functions work together as a cohesive ecosystem. That is only possible if they are plugged into the right information systems and one another," added Jennings.

"Most of hospital's transformation ambitions are either rooted in or dependent on mobile technology in some capacity. So, ensuring each staff member has a clinical device in hand is the first step to achieving a new standard of patient care and operational efficiency."

The report was based on an online survey of more than 500 senior-level hospital leaders within the clinical, IT, and procurement disciplines in Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America. Data collection and tabulation was conducted by research firm Azure Knowledge Corporation.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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