Amid the pandemic, providing optimal patient care entails “working smarter” through streamlined workflows supported by mobile connectivity: study

Through an online survey of around 500 senior-level hospital leaders within the clinical, IT, and procurement disciplines to gain a better understanding of the role of technology in acute care hospitals. Across the Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America regions, smarter and more-connected workflows stood out as a key prescription for optimal patient care.

Some 89% of executive decision-makers and 83% of clinicians surveyed “agreed” that real-time intelligence was essential for optimal patient care, requiring increased investments in clinical mobility tools, real-time location systems (RTLS) and intelligent workflow solutions to support smarter, more connected workflows.

However, more than two-thirds (67%) of hospital executives in the same survey still did not feel their organizations were investing enough to maximize staff efficiency.

Key findings

What does “smarter and more-connected workflows” entail?  In the survey, approximately two-thirds of executives acknowledged that physicians and caregivers were overextended during their shifts and were spending too much time locating medical equipment and supplies.

Over half reported their administrative staff were equally overburdened and unable to complete their work during their shift. In view of this:

  • Approximately 80% of respondents planned to automate workflowsin the next year to improve supply chain management, make it easier to locate critical equipment and medical assets, improve emergency room and operating room and staff scheduling.
  • About three-quarters planned to use radio frequency identification (RFID) and related technologies to track equipment and specimens, improve patient flow and security, and create more dynamic workflows and improve staff efficiency, safety and compliance.
  • Just as many executives in the survey indicated that they would integrate IoT sensors, prescriptive analytics, and AI to help improve both inpatient and outpatient care.
  • A majority of respondents surveyed were committed to giving the “right device to the right worker”, a shift from 2017 when “bring your own device” (BYOD) strategies were equally popular.
  • 84% of respondents believed the quality of patient care would improve if nurses, physicians and non-clinical healthcare workers had access to collaboration tools and the convenience of using their mobile devices to access healthcare applications.
  • 49% of the surveyed executives were providing employees with hospital-owned devices intended for healthcare as more clinicians need durable and rugged devices, hospitals require more remote device management capabilities, and data security becomes a top priority. Around 80% of respondents cited an increase in medical workflow accuracy and precision as well as a reduction in preventable medical errors among other benefits.
  • In the next few years Telehealth and remote-patient monitoring will be invaluable for both clinicians and patients, and most hospital executives planned to increase spend to support new applications.

According to Johnny Ong, APAC Healthcare Practice Lead, Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific, the firm that commissioned the survey: “Team communication plays a key role in patient care while mitigating risks of viral transmissions and maintaining staff morale. Mobile devices are critical tools for hospitals to better manage their resources in future, given the increase in demand to automate the orchestration of high traffic areas in hospitals.”

As hospitals embrace technological innovations, they must ensure that they are plugged into the right information systems, connected to one another and work together as a cohesive ecosystem, Ong continued. “Equipping each front-line staff with a clinical mobile device in hand is the first step in pursuing a new level of efficiency in patient care.”