More Efficient Healthcare System — Illusion or Near Reality

Media scrutiny of the U.S. healthcare system has put immense pressures on leaders and executives to curb soaring U.S. healthcare costs. Comparisons of nations’ spending on healthcare, average life expectancy and health outcomes reveal that the U.S. is lagging behind many other high-income countries.

The attention on the US Healthcare legislature and pricing models, had also brought up into light some additional key challenges spanning from security and resource management to patient experience and facility optimizations.

The Global Health Care Outlook: healthcare leaders have called for new technologies, processes, positions. Healthcare organizations have invested in artificial intelligence (AI), created the  Chief Experience Officer role, begun transitions from various traditional, mostly fee-for-service technological models to value-based models... Yet, the myriad of complex security solutions, the inefficiencies in facility and resource management, the fragmented patient experience in the healthcare space are still struggling with climbing out of the past, and moving into a new reality.

Complex Security Solutions

According to the 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study, by IBM,  the per capita cost of a data breach in healthcare is $408 — higher than any other industry in the U.S. The Healthcare IT teams are striving to prevent increasingly sophisticated attacks and to keep up with ever-changing HIPPA regulations. Does a simpler solution exist, or is the road to security marked by exponential increases in complexity?

Inefficiencies in Facility and Resource Management

In 2015, according to the CDC, “NCHS Fact Sheet”, the mean wait time for ED treatment was 48.3 minutes in EDs with 50,000 or more annual visits. It may seem that the problem of long wait times stops at EDs, but the effects are far-reaching: health outcomes are negatively impacted, healthcare personnel experience undue stress, patient satisfaction declines. The amplitude of such challenges points to important  inefficiencies in facility and resource management.

Leading healthcare organizations address the issue by focusing on a value-based model, which eliminates insufficiencies. The result -- measurable, but not broad enough  improvements: not every healthcare organization can invest the time and resources, required for the analysis of every task and process.

A Fragmented Patient Experience

The highly fragmented U.S. healthcare system often blocks patients from getting on time critical diagnosis and treatment, by having them wait weeks for referral.  In the waiting rooms of specialized care facilities, patients are required to fill out basic information, which is already stored in electronic medical records (EMR) but accessible only to their primary provider.  Few U.S. Hospitals Can Fully Share Electronic Medical Records . In 2015, only 30 percent of the hospitals were able to locate, send and receive EMRs from outside care facilities.

Various technologies have been adopted to address the issue and improve patient experience and the personalization of care. Indeed, advancements in artificial intelligence, deep learning, and high tech have led to improvements; patient-to-nurse communications are being automated, repetitive tasks are being handled by robots, and scheduling is done through an online portal. Unfortunately, these technologies have introduced a new set of challenges: compatibility and interoperability.

The Possibilities with technology in healthcare is aiming at increasing safety, productivity, efficiency, and patient satisfaction.

Offering real-time data analytics and localization, long-range facial recognition and edge computing to protect data, technology is a noteworthy solution for the  mounting challenges in healthcare.

Significant are the benefits of technology for healthcare facilities:

  • Personalized visitor assistance and guidance

  • Automated appointment scheduling and coordination

  • Emergency coordination and localization

  • Card-less, biometric access control

  • Intelligent tracking

  • Real-time, proactive threat detection

The challenges in healthcare, as listed above, will become even more evident as the aging population increases and the nursing shortage becomes more pronounced. Those, who want to lead the change, will need effective and long-term solutions. Investments into exponential technologies, with most  potential to reduce costs, increase access, and improve quality of care over time, promise the most advantageous  returns for the healthcare organizations.