Why Is Hospital Care So Complex, and What Is Being Done About It?

Software can help make predictions, analyze data and make communication easier.

nurse computer
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In every hospital, there's always a lot going on at once. Hospital care is so complex due to the sheer volume of activity occurring 24/7. There are many different types of caregivers who work in labs, pharmacies, therapies, bed management and so on. All those teams have to work together to coordinate care for every patient.

The industry is intense as well as complex because it deals with people's health, and some situations are urgent. It's a fast-paced environment, and everything in it is highly utilized. It's kind of like braking in traffic. When you're tapping your brake on an empty road, it won't make much of a difference because there are no cars around you. When you tap your brake in traffic, it creates a ripple effect behind you. Even the smallest disruptions can make a big impact — and the stakes can be high.

Hospitals are caring for more patients than ever before, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this. With a high volume of patients and limited beds and healthcare professionals, nurses are having to handle increasingly complex situations.

Technology Can Make Things Simpler

Fortunately, technology can make the system easier and allow people to do things they previously thought were impossible. For instance, let's say out of 800 beds, there are 100 discharges to be made in a day. You might wonder which beds you should attend to first. Technology can help streamline this process by using an algorithm that identifies the beds that should be prioritized. Software can analyze the beds that are most important to free up first, the tasks that need to be completed to create that free bed, and any barriers that might come up.

Technology can also help make predictions. An example of this is software that can identify which patients are at an elevated risk of central line infection due to being on the central line for too long. Without technology, nurses and physicians would have to simply watch for this infection by keeping an eye out for patients on the central line. However, in a health system with thousands of patients, it's hard to say which ones are at an elevated risk without the use of software. If you don't have the right tools, it's hard to find all the needles in the haystack.

New Innovations Can Help Solve More Problems

Healthcare tools that deal with real-time optimization and unified communications are still in relative infancy, and there's room for them to become more popular. Real-time optimization software can give a holistic image of all the activities happening in a system. This allows healthcare workers to have a bird's eye view of what's going on, which gives caregivers all the information necessary to make choices and solve problems.

Unified communications also make it easier for nurses to share information, make requests and stay updated. Technology can bring ease and convenience and help keep teams in sync. Caregivers often deal with sensitive information and need software that can maintain patients' privacy while also being efficient and intuitive enough to keep their work streamlined.

When I received feedback from a hospital in Florida using our software, one caregiver shared that they were initially skeptical of software because it tends to make their life more complicated. But things were easier when all the necessary information was at their fingertips.

Something else that was brought up in the feedback was the need to eliminate uncertainty in the moment. A caregiver mentioned that when people go to the bedside nurse with a slip of paper, the moment they flip it over, the information becomes outdated. Situations change so quickly in healthcare, and every second counts. Using outdated, wrong or incomplete information can have a huge impact. It's essential to use the most current data to understand what's happening instead of guessing or using old notes. Technology has the potential to bring this immediacy.

Colin Powell laid out a list of rules for life after serving as a platoon leader in Vietnam. One of them is to check for small things. Another popular saying in the military is, "Great organizations do routine things routinely." These tasks and checks, which may seem small on the surface, are essential for keeping complexity at bay — on the battlefield and in healthcare. Technology can help make these routine tasks easier.

With the Right Software, We Can Ease the Complexity

Hospitals are so complex largely because there is so much going on at once, and the work is intense. In healthcare, people's lives can be at stake. Not only that, but multiple teams need to coordinate with each other and make sure everything is running smoothly. They ensure the right tasks are prioritized, barriers are resolved, and everyone on the team is working in synchrony.

With work that is so demanding and intricate, technology can offer support. Software can help make predictions, analyze data and make communication easier. Problems can easily pop up at any moment, so it's essential that prevention methods are in place and routine tasks keep everything in order. Software can help with these tasks so caregivers don't have to juggle so much, making the complexity more manageable for everyone.

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