How to Lessen the Burden on Healthcare Providers
One of the biggest lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the need to ease the burden on our healthcare providers, not just by trying to keep them safe and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed, but by doing whatever we can to make their job easier.
One way that our team at SK&T has been helping healthcare systems do that is by further automating and mobilizing all the mission-critical workflows that go into patient care.
There are many ways we can do this and build on previous efforts to streamline, digitize, and optimize care delivery for better efficiency and better patient outcomes. In this article, we’ll take a look at a few quick examples, how they work, and how they help our healthcare providers can get more done with less effort and stress.
Arguably the best strategy for minimizing the burden on our healthcare providers is to equip nurses, physicians, and staff with mobile computing technologies and smart badges so they can quickly and securely access EMRs and patient records, communicate in real-time and manage and coordinate care, all with touch-enabled workflows that save time and effort at every stage.
A good example is Zebra’s TC52-HC healthcare mobile computer, which is an Android touch screen device that delivers octa-core processing power, high-speed Wi-Fi, and access to EMRs, alerts, voice, secure texting, and other tools at lightning speed. Devices like these are a great way to save time and effort by making mobile workflows as intuitive, seamless, and efficient as possible.
When the TC52-HC is paired with a smart badge and single sign-on software, staff can simply tap their badge to authenticate their identities and start securely using all the apps they need, even on a device that’s disinfected and shared with other staff on the next shift. The next user can simply tap their badge with the same integration, and the previous user is automatically signed out, and they’re signed in and can get to work right away.
Another simple way to make life and work a bit easier, especially for busy nurses and technicians, is to switch from traditional barcode scanners to small, compact, and wearable companion scanners. Devices such as Zebra’s CS60-HC healthcare companion scanner are small, lightweight, yet durable devices that nurses or technicians can place in a pocket or wear on a lanyard.
Despite their small size, these devices capture virtually any 1D or 2D barcode in any condition, even if a barcode is smudged, dirty, or poorly printed. They also easily pair wirelessly via Bluetooth with other devices such as mobile computers. This makes them great for nurses or technicians on the go because they can be freed from carrying cumbersome devices or having to rely on carts and mobile workstations to wheel devices around.
C60-HC scanners are also the first of their kind to offer a corded option as well. If you prefer, you can switch them from wireless to corded by simply connecting them to other devices with an optional USB cable. This means you can use these mini devices as a hands-free presentation scanner on a cart or workstation and not just as a handheld device.
Of course, since they’re designed for healthcare, they’re also made with disinfectant-ready plastics and a physical design that helps eliminate places where germs can potentially hide. They also have patient-friendly day and night modes, with options to choose between audible or haptic vibration for scanning feedback, and Zebra’s Direct Decode Indicator projects illumination onto the barcode to make sure it can be read in dim conditions.
Another way to simplify workflows for healthcare providers is to streamline admissions and help eliminate errors in patient care, medication, and specimen tracking by creating more automated identification and tracking systems.
You can do this with basic components such as barcoded patient ID wristbands and barcoding scanning, but you can also get more sophisticated by deploying mobile apps that help automate your specimen and medication tracking, a chain of custody, and your pickups and deliveries for labs and pharmacies. These days, there are proven healthcare apps for streamlining and error-proofing everything from medication tracking to supplies management and medical courier operations, so now is an ideal time to explore options and look for every area where you can leverage these solutions to reduce or eliminate manual and labor-intensive processes.
Some hospitals are taking technology a step further by using RFID to wirelessly track patients and their locations as they move through the admissions process and toward emergency surgeries where timing, coordination, and accurate patient identification are crucial.
Providers and staff can be automatically alerted to the status and location of incoming patients, even before they arrive at the hospital and then at key checkpoints along the way, using RFID readers and antennas that read and detect RFID-enabled patient ID wristbands with radio signals as they move past the readers.
Automation and tracking strategies like these can add up to a big difference in reducing the overall effort required to track patients. And there are numerous other potential RFID applications involving tracking of at-risk patients who might wander, quickly locating and tracking medical equipment and supplies when they’re needed, and automating inventory management by eliminating the need for item-by-item and physical barcode scans to track assets.
These are just some of the ways that hospitals are using mobility and automation to reduce the burden on our frontline healthcare workers and create better efficiency at a time when it’s needed most. But there are many more potential strategies and solutions to consider.
To learn more and find out about strategies, case studies, and solutions to tackle your biggest healthcare challenges, connect with our team at SK&T, and let’s start a conversation about how our technology experts can help.