While the trend towards decentralized and digitalized healthcare delivery models continues to advance, the hospital will always be the bedrock for treating large volumes of acutely ill patient populations as well as the central point of coordinated care across the U.S. and global healthcare ecosystem.
However, the hospital-centered model of healthcare has never been under more pressure, with rising costs, increasing nurse and staff shortages, higher patient demands and uneven patient access to care. Digitalization is an added challenge hospitals and health systems must embrace to survive. Hospitals, therefore, need to ensure their operations continue to become more and more optimized to navigate these challenges while hospital technology systems need to work seamlessly together to create true system-wide interoperability.
EMRs have addressed the need for patient care documentation and billing, but these systems need a companion Operational Platform to ensure operational and clinical efficiencies can be carried over to support hospital care workflows to create a 360 view of patient care. With the emergence of distributed digitally connected healthcare models, virtual Command Center hubs and Operational Platforms are critical to ensure that the best efficiencies and outcomes are realized from these models. These Command Centers create interconnected points of care through shared visibility to care access, care delivery and care transitions, working with other nodes of care outside of networks to create a boundaryless care ecosystem that focuses on the patient, not just the bed.
Operational and patient flow platforms will be the foundation for enabling the development of a fully digitalized, boundaryless healthcare delivery ecosystem. This ecosystem will be one where hospitals and health systems in the U.S and around the world can proactively address patient flow, staffing workflows, capacity management, system-wide interoperability, and care transitions more efficiently to deliver the care they are best at – acute, critical or intensive intervention-based care.
The need for Operational Platforms in combination with EMR technology has even been recognized in global healthcare markets like the National Health Service (NHS)in the U.K., which is a government single-payer system that has been cautious to embrace technology innovations. In fact, there already is ample evidence that Operational Platforms are solving critical inefficiency issues in the U.K. Even now, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells (MTW) NHS Trust is pioneering the way forward expanding bed capacity for patient care,monitoring and controlling patient flow coming into its Emergency Department, and optimizing integrated care opportunities, utilizing these platform technologies.
Hospitals are facing some of the greatest care delivery challenges in history, having served patients for nearly three centuries. They must evolve, or they will be at risk of significant shutdowns or consolidations. This requires thinking outside of the box about offering more specialized services in addition to their already well-delivered acute care. Hospitals must also think differently about their patients and the opportunities to serve them in different locations based on the need of the individual's care. In doing so, hospitals have an opportunity to become leaders of proactive, preventative and patient centric care in the new digital healthcare model.
As healthcare evolves and requires better interoperability, Operational Platforms will remove the labor-intensive and manual task-related inefficiencies within the hospital, acting as the nerve center for centralizing operational data insights. These insights will be necessary for hospitals and health systems to evolve and will be a key driver of the distributed digital health care ecosystem model that is emerging.
Wholesale digital transformation is a big step for hospitals and requires major internal organizational change, combining people, process and technology to deliver and recognize sustainable outcomes. While hospitals should not delay big picture digital strategy planning, fixing current operational issues should be a top priority. Additionally, for all the hype about the advancing of a decentralized digital healthcare delivery system, it’s two key driving goals are an optimized state of operational efficiency and providing the best clinical care possible to patients – the hospital must be the starting point for this and the first step towards digital patient care.
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