Make the Business Case for Real-Time Healthcare Technology

by | Oct 1, 2018

The digital transformation of healthcare delivery is well underway. Improving care outcomes while increasing time and resource efficiency is the top-of-mind objective for healthcare leaders. To achieve that objective, organizations need to be able to act and react in real time.

Gartner describes the paradigm shift to a Real-Time Health System (RTHS):

“The RTHS uses information and communications technology to disrupt care delivery as we know it and reduce the time in which medical knowledge is shared, adopted and applied. It uses situational and operational intelligence to determine the need for change or intervention and, in doing so, it eliminates waste and latency, accelerates workflows and business processes, balances resources with demand and improves care quality.”[i]

A Real-Time Health System is not a software or platform, but the result of a business IT strategy that prioritizes the adoption of technologies aligned with specific goals and performance metrics. When it comes to care delivery, a key RTHS technology is the clinical communication and collaboration system. These systems can enhance performance areas with significant business impacts, including:

  • Care measures
  • Clinical workflows
  • Patient safety
  • Patient throughput
  • Transitions of care

Business case for clinical communication and collaboration technology in the service of a real-time healthcare IT strategy

In its guide to making the business case for digital investment, Gartner suggests that CIOs and other stakeholders attempt to forecast the impact a Real-Time Health System would have on critical performance measures.[ii] This process can be guided by questions directed toward how an organization might function after adopting clinical communication and collaboration technology in service of a real-time healthcare IT strategy. The following are three examples:

What is the value of knowing the status of your facilities’ resources, including people, equipment, and rooms?

This question covers an array of possible needs:

  • Knowing the availability of rooms or beds in real time could make it possible to increase patient throughput.
  • Making beds available for new patients while decreasing the lag time in admission, discharge or transfer (ADT) events could enhance revenue while providing a better patient experience.
  • The ability to call up a list of staff members with specific certifications, training and availability could streamline the process of last-minute adjustments while helping to ensure the appropriate skill mix.
  • Staffing ratios directly impact patient safety, and filling shift vacancies without recourse to overtime or traveling nurses saves money.

What would you do differently if you had more timely, complete information about the context of your situation?

For example, consider the measurable impact on an emergency if ED leaders were better able to anticipate needs and move resources quickly to meet them:

  • Hospitals could gather accurate information quickly and notify team members using a structured communication tool.
  • An incoming trauma case could trigger a message from EMS using a specific template to accelerate communication and acquire a standard set of data, such as sex, age and symptoms.
  • That notification could then be sent to a pre-programmed group of recipients, including trauma surgeons, blood bank, and radiology, and specialties such as behavioral health or pediatrics, based on presenting issues.
  • Accelerated time to treatment can reduce length of stay, prevent dangerous and costly escalation and reduce the overall mortality rate.

How would patients’ and clinicians’ experience and interactions change with better communication at the point of care?

While the EMR is a useful tool, it lacks the capacity to prompt action or guide decisions at critical moments, especially during care coordination and transitions:

  • Hospitals need to manage complex transitions for patients with chronic conditions.
  • Discharge nurses and care coordinators could contact the right staff and secure the right resources more easily: a pharmacist to discuss access to medication, a specialized care transition nurse for patient education, or a social worker to assist with other issues that could interfere with a patient’s home-based care.
  • Replacing separate pages and phone calls with a clinical communication and collaboration system could eliminate much of the toil involved in coordinating a transition, while also enabling a high-level of view of who has been assigned to specific tasks and when or if tasks have been completed.

A highly accountable, patient-centered process can address some of the root causes of readmissions.

Maximize the value of your clinical communication and collaboration system

A clinical communication and collaboration system is not the only technology needed to complete an organization’s digital transformation to the RTHS:

  • Other tools for care delivery include alarms and notifications, including next-generation nurse call systems.
  • In the facility and operations domain, organizations can benefit from technology for patient throughput and capacity management as well as real-time operational dashboards for enterprise-wide situational awareness.
  • A crisis/incident management solution is crucial to continuity of operations throughout all domains.

Where possible, healthcare businesses can accelerate the transition to a Real Time Health System by choosing a clinical communication and collaboration solution that can manage many of these needs at once. This is in keeping with the Gartner recommendation for developing IT strategy for care delivery:

“Improve care coordination and transitions of care by equipping care teams with CC&C tools that interoperate with other core components of the care team collaboration ecosystem.”[iii]

Several advantages to employing a single solution for multiple communication needs include:

  • Developing muscle memory and fluency by using one tool
  • Eliminating the overload of devices or sign-ins for diverse communication needs
  • Aligning the efficiency of individual staff with overall operational efficiency
  • Achieving financial ROI more quickly by meeting many IT needs with a single solution

The value of the RTHS is clear. As Garter points out in its digital strategy guide:

“The concepts of RTHS intuitively make sense. However, for stakeholders considering technology investments to support an implementation program, the RTHS concept needs to be made more tangible.”[ii]

The possibilities described in this post are tangible and achievable. Demonstrating the link between clinical communication and collaboration technology and enterprise goals makes a compelling business case for real-time healthcare.

Next steps

Read another post in this series, Leveraging Healthcare Communication Technology for Real-Time Care Coordination.

Explore the Real-Time Healthcare Resource Center.

See LiveProcess Communicator, used for real-time coordination in healthcare delivery organizations.

 

terry-zysk-100x100Terry Zysk, CEO of LiveProcess, has more than two decades of experience in leading organizations that provide innovative solutions to the healthcare industry.

Clinical Communication & Collaboration Defined

As Gartner states in its 2016 Market Guide for Clinical Communication and Collaboration,

“CC&C platforms offer mobile messaging and collaborative capabilities directed at clinicians and care team members for the purpose of improving patient information sharing at the point of care and during transitions of care.

“CC&C platforms represent the convergence of conventional inpatient communications systems such as the PBX, VoIP, email and paging with more modern technologies associated with mobility and the cloud.

“CC&C systems are used to communicate and coordinate the activities of care team members in an effort to optimize:

  • Care quality
  • Care transitions
  • Clinical workflows
  • Patient experience
  • Patient safety
  • Patient throughput
  • Response times” [ii]

References

“Industry Vision: The Real-Time Health System,” Gartner, May 11, 2016.

ii “Digital Strategy for Driving the Real-Time Health System Starts with a Compelling Business Case,” Gartner, July 10, 2018.

iii “Market Guide for Clinical Communication and Collaboration,” Gartner, July 12, 2018.