Optimizing IT Productivity in the Health Care Industry

ByErma F. Brown

Jun 7, 2022 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Read on to more about Health Care technology innovations that are making things easier for workers and patients.

IT industry professionals have numerous opportunities to partner with people in the health care industry and show them how technology can make things easier for medical workers and patients alike. Here are some of the fascinating possibilities. 

Improve Health Care Patient Engagement and Preparedness With Messaging Platforms

People outside the medical industry often underestimate how much communication between patients and providers must occur outside of face-to-face appointments. Perhaps a physician changed someone’s antidepressant dosage and wants to check in with them about how they’re feeling. Alternatively, patients might need reminders to ensure they’re ready for upcoming procedures. 

Connecticut-based Yale New Haven Health began using a messaging service with patients scheduled for colonoscopies and other procedures in the gastroenterology department. However, the health system recently expanded the service’s usage to align with electronic health record content. 

Matt Zawalich, the executive director of information technology services at the health organization, also explained how better messaging could help patients stay on top of their appointments. “…One of the aims here is to try to resolve some of those issues that result in either cancellation or no-shows of appointments because we did not effectively communicate with the patient related to what they needed to do to be ready for their appointment,” he said. 

When that happens, providers can better manage their workdays because they’re not waiting on no-shows or people who come at the wrong times. Additionally, patients will have better overall peace of mind because they know all the preparatory steps an appointment requires. 

Rely on Artificial Intelligence for Process Improvement in Health Care

Numerous opportunities exist for using tech to minimize the dependence on outdated processes. A  chatbot can handle queries about whether a practice is accepting new patients or is within a certain insurance company network. These tools get smarter with more usage, so they naturally improve with time. 

Answering the questions of new and potential patients is a critical part of helping a practice maintain its service levels and pursue growth. However, it can also be time-consuming and take staff away from other duties. Chatbots don’t remove the need for staff engagement, but they can help a practice’s team decide how best to handle incoming questions and which ones to prioritize based on a person’s responses. 

Artificial intelligence could also help identify the patients best suited for clinical trials in the enrollment phase. Many people with rare diseases or those not responding well to conventional treatments see these trials as sources of hope that could expand their options. One app requires only one click to connect patients and trial coordinators. 

The traditional methods of clinical trial referrals are often inefficient because it’s difficult for providers to determine whether a particular patient would likely qualify at the point of care. However, the recently released artificial intelligence tool gives real-time feedback to the provider.

Speed Physician Workflows With Note-Taking Apps

Many physicians say too much of their workdays are spent taking notes rather than being with patients. They may feel more like data entry specialists than medical professionals. 

There’s a big demand for voice-recognition technologies, as long as they’re accurate. The medical industry has so many specific treatment and disease names associated with it, and it’s easy to see how most voice tools for nonmedical use would probably fall short. Fortunately, tech companies have been developing note-taking applications geared toward providers. 

OrthoAtlanta is an orthopedic practice with 37 physicians. It implemented a solution that would integrate with patient records. Dr. Michael J. Behr, the facility’s medical director, said, “By some industry estimates, one hour of seeing patients translates into two or more hours of post-visit paperwork.”

Before adopting a voice-recognition app, physicians took an average of 4.8 minutes to complete one note, while the overall time ranged from 3.9 to six minutes per note. However, the average after adopting the technology was 1.6 minutes per note, with the range spanning from 1.4 to 1.6 minutes. Estimates suggest the improvements could save doctors up to an hour of practice time per day. 

Increase Access Through Telemedicine Platforms

Telemedicine has already proven itself a game-changer in the medical field. However, numerous barriers may discourage people from seeking prompt, in-person care. Perhaps they have an anxiety disorder that makes leaving the house almost unbearable. Maybe a physical disability makes them highly reliant on others for transportation, making it difficult to seek urgent care. How far someone lives from a medical facility is also a significant concern. 

However, telemedicine can alleviate all these burdens and others. It can also help medical professionals improve their output. One study of more than 17,000 providers across various disciplines showed those offering telemedicine were more productive than those who were not. 

Researchers at West Virginia University also explored how telemedicine might improve access to cardiovascular care in underserved regions of Appalachia. A small study of patients recovering from vascular surgery required half of the group to take their vital signs and answer questions about how they felt each day. They then submitted that information to a telemedicine app. 

The results showed that those receiving telemedicine support scored higher on several metrics, including quality of life, physical function and mental health. Patients in the telemedicine group lived an average of 60 miles away from the nearest facility to receive in-person care. Others had to drive several hours to reach those places. 

Patients who perceive it’s easier to receive care may be more likely to seek medical advice sooner. If that happens, there’s a better chance of physicians being more effective because they can intervene sooner. 

IT Professionals Are Instrumental in Health Care Progress

The examples here highlight some of the technologies IT professionals can develop to improve health care outcomes. There’s no need for them to have medical backgrounds as long as they understand how to use tech to overcome obstacles in the field.



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