Patient safety will always be one of the most important measuring sticks in the healthcare industry, yet it’s lagged behind for much of the last couple of decades. But as new technology is introduced into the field, all indications suggest that safety is improving across the board.
Medicine and technology will always have a close relationship. The right technology can increase efficiency, enhance quality, reduce costs, and – most importantly – promote better patient safety.
In 2019, we’re seeing some of the direct byproducts of this mutually beneficial relationship.
Let’s explore a few of them:
1. EHR Leads to Better Communication
Traditionally, communication has been one of the major sticking points between patients and their doctors. Trying to get in touch with doctors can be tough and the endless back-and-forth often proves to be exhausting for both parties. Enter electronic health record (EHR) software, which – among other things – improves accessibility through streamlined communication.
Often in a patient’s journey, they see multiple doctors and providers. Unfortunately, this increases the risk of misinformation and communication failures. EHR is beneficial in facilitating the sharing of records across healthcare providers. These platforms are designed to reduce errors by compiling and maintaining all records and data points in one patient portfolio that all providers can see.
The biggest challenge with EHR – from a provider standpoint – is overcoming the stigma of automation and depersonalization. Patients want to engage with their doctors and aren’t particularly keen on excessive use of computers during their visits. (They’d rather talk to their doctor and maximize face-to-face interaction.) To help providers overcome this issue and make the most out of EHR, medical researchers have compiled a list of best practices that should be followed.
2. Enhanced Professional Training
Humans aren’t perfect, which means medical errors are quite common. However, we do know that proper training leads to lower error rates among doctors, nurses, and other physicians. Thus, one of the major keys to improving patient safety is to overhaul traditional training methods and implement systems by which new professionals enter the field with a greater sense of preparedness.
There are lots of different training aids and solutions being used in the industry, but simulation technology is one of the more exciting and useful applications.
Medical simulation technology with built-in digital video allows students and providers to learn through hands-on practice and procedures as frequently and often as necessary in order to hone skills, overcome mistakes, and increase comfort level.
“Simulation is an important solution to the challenges of patient safety, allowing enhanced and more effective professional education, with reduced safety risks for real patients,” Intelligent Video Solutions explains. “The difficulty has been integrating simulation into traditional medical student education programs, a problem that is easily solved by using video to record patient safety and simulation sessions.”
With advanced video recording systems, companies like Intelligent Video Solutions are making a positive difference in how healthcare professionals perform when they’re thrust into real-world situations.
3. Electronic Prescribing Reduces Errors
“Prescribing errors are another common medical error that can potentially lead to serious complications, writes Christine Queally Foisey, CEO of MedSafe. “Electronic prescribing can help reduce prescription errors by allowing clinicians to send prescriptions electronically to the pharmacy. Medical alerts, clinical flags, and reminders are also ways technology can help reduce medication errors and improve patient safety.”
Prescribing errors can be deadly, yet are almost always preventable. As electronic prescribing becomes the standard across the industry, thousands of lives will be saved each and every year.
4. Better Patient Tracking
Most people are familiar with wearable devices by now. Millions of people own smart watches and fitness trackers. But did you know that wearables also have a place in healthcare?
As the American Society for Clinical Oncology explains, “Tracking physical activity using a wearable device could potentially be used for monitoring symptoms and severity in those who may not be able to self-report symptoms because of various barriers such as literacy or severity of illness.”
Better patient tracking, combined with improvements in telehealth, will allow patients to receive superior around-the-clock care from the comforts of their own homes. This is a trend that will only continue to grow in the coming months.
Putting it All Together
We can talk all we want about efficiency, profitability, and ease of care, but these matters all take a backseat to patient safety. At the end of the day, it’s the patient’s health that’s most important. Healthcare organizations that invest in the proper technology will find that increases in patient safety lead to improvements in almost every other area of operations and management.
Whether you’re inside the healthcare industry or on the outside looking on, improvements in communication, error rates, training, and patient tracking are all positive trends. Let’s continue to keep an eye on these developments as we expectantly wait for even greater innovation and change in the coming years.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant.Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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