By Kurt Forsthoefel, Director of Medical Marketing
The consumerization of healthcare and rise of value-based care models has put greater focus on the point of care experience. While much of that focus has been on patients, systems are recognizing that enhancing the caregiver experience is critical to achieving their mission. A better caregiver experience can greatly impact the overall quality of care and lead to better clinical outcomes; both of which are essential to the clinical and financial success of any healthcare delivery organization.
Recently, Tom Schwieterman, MD, MBA, chief medical officer for Midmark, and I participated in a webinar with Modern Healthcare where we discussed how healthcare organizations can enhance the caregiver experience at the point of care.
One major impact to the caregiver experience has been the growth of electronic medical records (EMR) and the increasing prevalence of new technology at the point of care. While new technology can help improve clinical outcomes for patients through better data, it is not without its detractions. Rapid innovation through sensors, analytics and genomics have added complexity to health systems that have not taken the time to rethink the exam space. Those that have proactively invested in next-gen point of care systems will be better able to manage through these changes.
Increased use of technology can provide meaningful savings to healthcare; some studies show that it could result in $139-163 billion in savings by 20251. However, this increased reliance on technology, when not managed appropriately, has the potential to negatively impact patient/caregiver interaction. The more time clinicians have to spend interacting with technology, the less time they can devote to their patient, putting a strain on the patient/caregiver relationship. Additionally, it can increase burdens on already stressed caregivers. We understand that many patients noticed the disruption at the beginning of the implementation of EMR and continued to feel less satisfied with those experiences after it was fully implemented.
If clinical outcomes are improved through technology, why does all of this matter? The overall patient experience and feelings of confidence in their healthcare provider are greatly impacted by interactions with caregivers and the overall provider experience. Healthcare providers who are dissatisfied and overworked can cause a number of problems from reduced productivity, increased likelihood of incurring medical errors, less appropriate prescribing behavior and increased reliance on unnecessary tests. Increased burnout of providers also can result in higher employee turnover and reduced continuity of care for the patient. All of this adds up to lower patient satisfaction scores and reduced profits for the healthcare system.
Increased use of technology at the point of care does not have to result in a negative for the healthcare experience. There are several things that a healthcare provider can do to be empowered by technology. This starts with the exam room, which can represent the optimal use of technology to make medicine better (more efficient, more complete, better outcomes) while enhancing the human experience at the point of care. Considering carefully how to integrate technology, healthcare systems need to ensure that technology relieves some of the burdens that are on healthcare providers today and helps reduce the barriers between the provider and patient. The rule of thumb should be that any new technology introduced should help to simplify the complexities in today’s healthcare rather than introduce new ones.
If a new technology does not fit effectively within your current system, you may want to consider how you might be able to incorporate it over time. Is there a roadmap that can guide your progress? Rolling out new technology takes time and training with staff. Sometimes innovative designs of low-tech products, such as a workstation that raises and lowers to enable providers to maintain eye contact with patients, can be a solution to improving the healthcare experience.
Advanced tools can revolutionize healthcare. Knowing how, and when, to implement new technologies can help provide a better point of care experience for both caregivers and patients. For more specific details on what to look for when incorporating technology and how to improve exam space workflow, watch our webinar: https://www.modernhealthcare.com/RethinkClinicalSpace.
1 Shubham Singhal and Stephanie Carlton. May 2019. The era of exponential improvement in healthcare? Retrieved October 17, 2019, from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/the-era-of-exponential-improvement-in-healthcare