Digital Health is Integral to Good Healthcare

Stop thinking of digital healthcare as part of your healthcare ecosystem. 

“We are at the point where digital health is simply health,” Daniel Barchi, executive vice president and CIO of CommonSpirit Health recently told Becker’s Hospital Review

Digital tools are no longer nice-to-have add-ons; they’re essential to the provision of timely, top-notch care. Consumers and healthcare providers expect 21st century technology. And yet, while uptake of digital healthcare increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare continues to lag behind many other industries in the digital transformation. As noted by John Glaser, executive-in-residence at Harvard Medical School, and Ranil Herath, president at Emeritus Healthcare, in a recent Healthcare Dive article, “tedious manual processes … lurk in every corner of even the ‘most wired’ hospitals and clinics.”

To date, most digital transformation efforts – across all industries – have fallen far short of expectations. These lackluster results reflect a disconnect between technology specialists and industry insiders. Too often, according to Glaser and Herath, “technologists don’t understand the nuances of an industry, and industry experts don’t understand the nuances of the technology.” 

To seize the potential of digital health and thrive in the 21st century and beyond, hospital leaders must shift their mindset and embrace digital innovation. 

Digital Innovations Improve Operations

Leading hospitals and health systems are already using digital tools to reduce administrative tasks, boost access to care, and create efficiencies. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center system is using digital automation to assist with scheduling. Jefferson Health is also using automation via IT in human resources, and many systems nationwide have embraced online scheduling and remote patient monitoring.

According to a 2022 Harvard Business Review article, digital technologies have a “substantial role to play in optimizing hospitals’ operational decision-making, which in turn can lead to improvements in the quality and efficiency of care and patients’ access to it.” Specifically, hospitals can use digital tools to enhance patient flow, staffing, scheduling, and supply chain management. 

Efficient patient flow is contingent upon accurate assessment of patient needs and effective management of hospital resources. Digital decision-support algorithms can assist with patient assessment, while artificial intelligence (AI) tools can predict admissions, discharges, and transfers. Some hospitals are already using prediction-informed bed management dashboards to inform staffing and facilitate patient flow.

Digital algorithms and analytics can also predict staff absentee rates and the need for surge staffing, allowing hospitals to effectively schedule and support available staff. Digital tools support evidence-based clinical practices too, including nurse rounding and bedside shift reporting. Soon, AI tools may recommend optimal staffing levels and team composition, given patients’ needs. 

Digital tools can mitigate supply chain challenges as well. RTLS-based asset tracking systems prevent loss and support the effective management of available assets. Improved inventory management practices can decrease the need for surplus equipment, saving hospitals money. Improved asset management can also save valuable staff time. 

Interconnected Digital Solutions Streamline Care

To effectively transform healthcare, digital solutions must work within the context and culture of the healthcare system. Forward-thinking hospitals consider interoperability, scalability, usability, and security as they consider digital solutions. Easy-to-use, integrated digital products lower the barriers to adoption, so hospitals can quickly experience the benefits of technology. 

The SwipeSense platform is a one-stop shop for patient safety and operational efficiency. The technology infrastructure supports electronic hand hygiene monitoring, asset tracking, nursing insights (which includes purposeful hourly rounding and bedside shift report), and contact tracing

Staff-worn badge reels communicate with room entry sensors and hand hygiene sensors, triggering automatic hand hygiene reminders when necessary. Location hubs in patient rooms electronically communicate with the badge reels to facilitate nursing insights and contact tracing, and asset tags communicate with location hubs so staff members can quickly and easily locate needed supplies. 

The platform simultaneously supports multiple applications and integrates securely with most electronic health records and HR software. Users can easily access core metrics in one place, without logging in to multiple systems. With this information, hospital executives, unit leaders, infection preventionists, and staff members can make informed decisions and provide excellent care.

Embracing digital health is a necessity for hospitals that want to provide top-notch care in the 21st century and beyond. The SwipeSense platform is one example of a comprehensive digital solution that integrates seamlessly with existing platforms and empowers healthcare providers to deliver excellent care. Request a demo to learn more.