Most of us are using more and more digital technology both at work and in our personal lives, and there is, understandably, a lot of debate about its application in healthcare. One of the most important considerations when implementing digital technology, says Susan Say, Clinical Solutions Director at ExtraMed, is whether it will help frontline staff do their job.
What is digital transformation?
Digital transformation is a broad term that encompasses a range of trends, technologies and objectives. It can mean anything from using tablets, smartphones and touchscreens to ‘going paperless’ to using data analysis techniques to support care delivery. Perhaps the most important element is the improvements that having computerised data can deliver. So how can it help frontline staff?
More accurate information supports better decision-making
Digitised information can be shared in real time, and its analysis can also be automated. That means software can be used to ensure entries or changes are not outside the accepted standards or ranges. This means that the frontline staff can be supported with a double-check that medication isn’t over the prescribed limit, for example. Digitally recording NEWS scores can catch deteriorating patients so they can be assessed more regularly or, if appropriate, escalated to a clinician.
Help patients get more engaged in their care
Digital technology isn’t just for staff. It also makes it highly cost-effective to deliver content – video and otherwise – to patients during their stay. They can have access to content to help them better understand and be more involved in their care. They can also access systems to put them more in control of what happens to them in hospital – meal ordering and surveys, for example. Patients can be more engaged and informed, and that helps their recovery.
Reduce duplication, improve clarity and support prioritisation
Capturing information, observations and notes digitally means no more trying to deal with illegible paper records or lab reports. It means that everyone who needs to access notes and information can do so easily. This means faster, more complete access to the information the team needs to make decisions, without the need for expensive off-site storage and retrieval of paper notes. Patient, ward and hospital status is available at-a-glance via electronic dashboards.
Use the system to save time
When trying to engage a specialist team or find a bed for a patient, staff have traditionally found themselves phoning around just to find out status. It’s time-consuming and unproductive. Using Patient Flow software means that, not only is the real-time situation visible to all, but phoning is only necessary to manage exceptions. That saves frontline staff valuable time, and senior staff can identify bottlenecks and support the flow of patients safely and efficiently through the hospital.
Using digital transformation at the point of care is a great opportunity, but it needs to support those at the frontline. To find out more, read about our Patient Flow and Vital Signs solutions.
This article was first published in Public Sector Focus magazine.