Achieving interoperability—dismantling the technological silos that prevent clinical information from being shared across healthcare IT systems throughout the organization—can be a challenge. Fortunately, an emerging set of technologies is capable of helping hospitals break down the barriers to sharing, analyzing and using information. Gartner calls this group of technologies the Real-Time Health System (RTHS). These technologies help hospitals access and use point-of-care data more effectively to improve the quality of patient care.
We spoke with Amplion President and CEO Frank Grant to learn about his insights on the Real-Time Health System technologies, and how they can help achieve higher Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores and lower costs.
Q: What are the core tenets for a system to be classified as a real-time health system (RTHS)?
Grant: To be classified as a real-time health system, Gartner requires a system to be five things: aware, adaptive, collaborative, mobile and demanding. By aware, we must be able to assemble valuable data and understand what that data means. Once we understand what the data is, we can be proactive and have an adaptive approach to what happens with that information. This approach should allow our care teams to collaborate on up-to-date information to make the most informed decisions possible. Clearly, we need to allow for caregivers to receive this information wherever they are, hence the mobile strategy—especially with the proliferation of smart devices. However, mobile means more than that; the system should also fit into the caregivers’ workflow and help them optimize their effectiveness and decrease time taken to respond to patients. Since we are so dependent upon the system working well, we need to demand the finest from it in terms of response time and uptime. And, finally, we must demand a proper user interface that works for the individual caregiver.
Q: Nurse staffing is typically based on acuity, not based on demand. How can RTHS use data to balance the workflow?
Grant: In order to balance the workload effectively, you have to understand true patient demand. All actions happening in the patient room—the alarms, such as an IV pump beeping; the reminders, such as hourly rounding or turning patients every two hours; and all of the nurse call messages—need to be captured and analyzed. You may have two patients who both have the same acuity, but one patient who has more alarms that go off in their room or is using the nurse call more frequently. So, if I am a nurse assigned to three high-demand patient rooms, regardless of the acuity, I may have a very difficult shift.
The RTHS helps to provide that information, so that the appropriate staffing requirements can be made. The Amplion Alert platform provides data on the total interactions, by room, to the charge nurse. The charge nurse can then assign rooms to the nurses to balance out the workload between each nurse. This is more equitable to the nurses, prevents burn-out and allows the executive leadership to be aware of their highest demanding patients.
Q: How, specifically, does RTHS break down data silos?
Grant: Caregivers are no longer given bits of outdated, unactionable information. The Amplion Alert Care Assurance Platform can provide the doctor, nurse, respiratory therapist, physical therapist, etc. with the latest information regarding any individual patient. That helps the care team stay in touch with what is presently occurring with patients and adjust their care plans accordingly.
Q: How do you envision clinical communications and the delivery of care evolving as hospitals implement RTHS to harness data and improve efficiency?
Grant: Improved efficiency is the true value of the RTHS. First and foremost, it makes caregivers more productive. They receive relevant information when they require it. When this information is available to the entire care team, the care is naturally better coordinated and delivered. When patients receive care more quickly and effectively, the patients feel safer and more satisfied. Also, the patients know that the system is set up to serve their clinical requirements, which helps hold the staff more accountable. The hospital can understand who is performing properly and who could use additional assistance. Thus, the hospital should be much more operationally efficient.
All of the above makes any RTHS-enabled hospital much more desired by both the patients and the caregivers. The reputation of the hospital will also be enhanced by the greater efficiency of the staff and increase in patient satisfaction.
Q: How does real-time data help improve the patient experience and yield higher HCAHPS scores?
Grant: HCAHPS scores have a lag time of 6–8 weeks from when the patient being surveyed was in the hospital, while real-time data provides an instant view into how that patient perceives their care. If a patient is a high-demanding one, his or her needs can be addressed quickly. Real-time data helps you discover any potential patient issues at the front-end versus having to wait to receive the HCAHPS scores weeks later. When patients feel heard and properly cared for, they are much more likely to give the hospital positive HCAHPS scores.
Q: What are the cost benefits of utilizing RTHS technologies?
Grant: The goal of a CEO or COO is to operate an efficient and effective hospital. Without the data to understand what is happening currently in the hospital, a hospital leader cannot make any immediate changes to impact operational efficiency or improve patient satisfaction. Even if I am collecting historical information, all I am doing is looking in the rearview mirror. The cost benefits include:
- The ability to attract and retain staff: To attract and retain the staff members I want, I must understand how the staff is functioning and provide them with the assistance they need to properly deliver excellent patient care.
- An understanding of current delivery costs: Receiving real-time information allows me to monitor costs and adjust accordingly.
- The alleviation of gridlock: Bottlenecked areas of the hospital can be identified and corrected more quickly.
- Higher patient satisfaction and HCAHPS scores: With reimbursement rates tied to HCAHPS scores, patient satisfaction has a direct impact on my hospital finances.
- A bolstered reputation: As my hospital improves its HCAHPS scores and caregiver satisfaction, its positive reputation grows in the communities we serve.
For more information about the real-time health system and how these technologies can benefit your hospital, download a copy of our latest Ebook, Real Time or Left Behind? If you want to know the cost of outdated technology to your hospital, staff and patient care, talk to one of our technical specialists today.