Hospitals and other care facilities are facing a barrage of new technologies and software applications that claim to reduce supply costs and improve clinical outcomes. How can hospital leaders and administrators discern the most important technology implementations for a financially and clinically successful hospital?
Here is our list of the 5 most essential hospital technologies:
1. EHR system
Electronic health record management systems have been in the spotlight for healthcare providers and policymakers—and for good reason. EHR systems facilitate patient data sharing, improving care coordination and preventative health initiatives. The ability to easily gather and share patient health information also improves understanding of population health trends, which helps to advance public health initiatives.
Top 3 Inpatient EHR Vendors by Market Share:
Epic Systems Corporation: 25.5%
Cerner Corporation: 24.0%
Fig 1 Definitive Healthcare tracks over 50 inpatient EHR vendors and over 65 ambulatory EHR vendors.
EHR systems are so important that federal agencies are providing incentives for hospitals, physician group practices, and other care centers to implement a certified application. Medical professionals that demonstrate meaningful use of an EHR system could be eligible for reimbursement payments, while those who cannot exhibit meaningful use, or who have not implemented an EHR system, could face penalties.
The implementation and application of telehealth technology has rapidly advanced in the past 5 years. Emergency departments and rural care facilities in particular can benefit from telehealth services to reduce wait times and improve access to specialists located in urban areas. New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center (NYPWC) began leveraging telehealth last year in its emergency department. The hospital’s emergency department faced increasingly long wait times—up to two and half hours for low-acuity patients. Low-acuity patients were sent for a video conference with a remote physician affiliated with NYPWC rather than waiting for an in-house physician. Using this system, NYPWC emergency department wait times plummeted from an average of 150 minutes to 18, according to Definitive Healthcare data.
Top 3 Telemedicine Vendors by Number of Hospital Implementations:
American Well: 222
Fig 2 Definitive Healthcare tracks over 30 telemedicine vendors.
Remote consultations can also improve care access for rural or chronically ill patients that are unable to travel to see specialists. Psychiatrists are already leveraging telehealth capabilities by offering video sessions for regular appointments and for emergency consultations. Rather than requiring high-risk patients to check into urgent care or emergency departments, clinicians can conduct evaluations remotely, freeing up emergency beds and allowing patients to receive care in less time. Physicians can leverage telehealth and have an immediate positive impact on patients while potentially reducing costs associated with inpatient admissions.
3. Patient Portals
Patients are growing increasingly accustomed to monitoring their lives online, from paying bills to checking tracking numbers for online purchases. Hospitals that utilize patient portal software are opening the doors for patients to check in with nurses and physicians remotely, without the hassle of scheduling an appointment days or weeks in advance. This frees up physician schedules, allowing care providers to focus on the patients with the greatest needs. Online portals can also make it easier for physicians to monitor patients with chronic illnesses by allowing them to keep track of their own symptoms regularly.
Top 3 Patient Portal vendors by Market Share
Epic Systems Corporation: 26.3%
Cerner Corporation: 14.3%
Fig 3 Definitive Healthcare tracks over 45 patient portal vendors.
Many portals also allow patients to pay medical bills, request prescription refills, view lab results, and schedule follow-up appointments. All these services can help prevent nurses and hospital administrative staff to get bogged down by small tasks, streamlining workflows and saving time for patients and hospital staff. In the near future, portals may allow patients to request video conference consultations, melding the abilities of patient portals and telehealth applications. Reducing the need for in-person visits will likely reduce care costs for hospitals and other providers.
Electronic prescribing, or ePrescribing, allows practitioners to write and send patient prescriptions to pharmacies electronically rather than handwriting or faxing request. This method offers several advantages over traditional methods of pharmaceutical prescribing. At a basic level, there is a lower likelihood of pharmacists misunderstanding a typed prescription than a handwritten one. Electronic services can also alert physicians of generic alternatives to more expensive brand name drugs.
Top 3 ePrescribing Vendors by Implementations:
Dr. First: 1,106
Fig 4 Definitive Healthcare tracks more than a dozen ePrescribing vendors.
Additionally, ePrescribing software can be integrated with EHR systems. This allows physicians and pharmacists to monitor a patient’s prescription history to make sure there is no chance of negative drug interactions or allergies to medications or their components. Industry experts view ePrescribing as one way to reduce instances of drug abuse and fraud, as practitioners must log into applications using secure information. Currently, over 90 percent of U.S. pharmacies participate in ePrescribing programs.
5. Medical inventory software
Hospital supply chain management is one of the most efficient ways to reduce overall supply costs and cut facility spending. A recent study by Navigant reported that hospitals could save up to $10 million annually by streamlining their supply chains, particularly for pharmaceuticals. However, supply chain management is difficult when more than 75 percent of U.S. hospitals still rely on manual inventory management. Manual methods cannot easily account for how long medical devices and other supplies sit before being used, track how often each type of device is used, monitor clinical effectiveness, or measure other essential metrics. This kind of disorganization leads to overspending and negative clinical outcomes.
Top 3 Inventory Control Vendors by Implementations
Fig 5 Definitive Healthcare tracks over a dozen supply chain & enterprise resource planning vendors.
By switching to a digital inventory management system, hospitals and other care facilities can monitor and alter delivery schedules for medical supplies depending on usage, cost, and clinical outcomes. Digital inventory monitoring can also reduce overspending on physician preference items, allowing hospital administrators to order alternative equipment that is more cost-effective or clinically viable. Surgery and orthopedics specialists have the most to gain from implementing a digital inventory management system: the average cost of admission for an orthopedic patient is more than $17,500.
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