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by John Gresham
Published on May 9, 2017

While various industries have found ways to leverage the power of technology in recent years, the health care industry has struggled to address the complex challenge of integrating various and often disparate systems.

Most health care organizations understand that device connectivity is one of the best ways to seamlessly share and use information across multiple platforms. Often, the struggle comes in determining and implementing a connectivity strategy at the hospital level.

In this blog, we'll walk through three ways organizations can address challenges such as overall patient care efficiency, clinical communications and operational inefficiencies. By leveraging connectivity, health care organizations can ultimately improve patient care while reducing waste.

Device connectivity can improve patient care efficiency

Connected devices are on the rise, with the global connected medical device market projected to reach $1.34 billion by 2021. It's no wonder why there's a heavy emphasis on this facet of the industry: Medical device communication can help health care organizations save time and money.

Consider the advantages of connected medical devices from a data collection perspective. When the disparate health care systems within a single organization are linked together, critical patient information is far more available to clinicians and care teams across the organization.

Additionally, connected medical devices have the ability to lower the margin of error that can sometimes occur at the bedside. In a recent survey, nearly half of all nurses polled said they'd witnessed medical errors attributed to a lack of coordination among medical devices, and 60 percent of those surveyed believe that those errors could have been prevented or reduced had the devices been connected.

Connected medical devices should also drive more intentional delivery of critical information to the caregiver. For instance, alarm fatigue could be decreased by routing the delivery of critical alerts to a mobile device. Automating the critical alarm delivery process creates a streamlined approach, which helps ensure that clinicians are responding to the right alarms at the right time to the patient in need.

Enhancing communications with mobile-enabled workflows

As the industry shifts toward value-based reimbursement models and patient-centered care, mobile technology is an increasingly popular topic. Mobile devices such as smartphones have the potential to improve efficiency and communication and prevent clinical errors. In 2015, 90 percent of physicians reported using mobile technology to provide patient care.

Today, thanks to mobile technology, clinicians can have access to patient information at their fingertips within seconds. Some of the most popular clinical apps have features that cross-reference medication properties and safety information or provide quick references for diagnosing various conditions.

At a health care organization, mobile devices can be used not only to search for and view clinical information, but also to update patient records and connect to other members of a patient's care team. This happens when mobile devices are optimized for exchanging information with other platforms, such as an organization's electronic health record (EHR).

For health care organizations, the biggest barrier to introducing mobile technology into workflows is the need to protect private patient information and the desire to keep from disrupting current processes. Ultimately, secure messaging enhances care coordination, eases clinical practice and improves the overall quality of care.

Operational efficiency with location-connected devices

Changes in the health care industry, such as declining reimbursement and the shift to value-based payment models, are increasing the pressure on hospitals to drive waste out of their care delivery process.

Location-based technologies can help reduce waste both in terms of physical asset utilization and staff productivity. Real-Time Location Services (RTLS) technologies can track devices like infusion pumps, thereby decreasing the number that are misplaced or lost each year. Tracking these devices can lead to a decrease in annual spend on devices through increased utilization and supply chain management. A further benefit is the reduction in staff time spent searching for a device, an activity that can occur several times a day.

RTLS can also be leveraged to optimize the workflows for caregivers. When caregivers and patients are tracked, their location can be leveraged to auto-associate the caregiver with the patient. This decreases the time needed to search for correct patient information in the EHR. Another example of increased workflow optimization through location-based technologies could be signing a physician into the EHR once he or she crosses the threshold to his or her office.

As location-based technologies become more widely adopted, the care process can be better orchestrated around the patient, providing for increased efficiencies in patient flow and even staffing levels.

CareAware, Cerner's EHR-agnostic device integration platform, enables seamless connectivity between medical devices, nurse call systems, location-based technologies and other network-connected systems. Learn more here.

Join us May 16-18 at the CareAware Summit to learn how our interoperable technologies and device connectivity can help your organization reduce health technology errors and create unparalleled connectivity across the care continuum. Register here.

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