Technology is supposed to make us more productive, right? When it comes to our personal computers, smartphones and home electronics, I think it’s fair to say that technological advances have greatly improved the way we live and work.
In the healthcare industry, however, that hasn’t always been the case. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 set the use of electronic health records (EHRs) in the healthcare system as a critical national goal. The act greatly incentivized EHR adoption and “meaningful use” of electronic records to significantly improve care.
As a result, health systems invested significantly not only in EHRs but also in computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems, health information exchanges, patient portals and other systems to manage population health and improve quality of care. Although a main goal of HITECH was safer, better-quality healthcare, many of the resulting systems put a further burden on the healthcare professionals they were intended to help, as data-capture efforts and the data itself became overwhelming.
Consider last year’s survey by the American Academy of Physicians, in which half of all respondents said EHRs had a negative impact on their efficiency or productivity. Other studies have shown the negative impact of “alarm fatigue” when physiologic monitors deliver an abundance of alarms and alerts to overwhelmed clinicians. In healthcare, more technology has not always led to better productivity.
Healthcare communication is one area where technology truly can ease the burden on clinicians. Rather than taking time away from patient care, mobile communication gives clinicians more time at the bedside. Instead of forcing nurses and physicians to learn new ways of working, smartphones put a familiar, intuitive tool in their hands.
With more than 75,000 caregivers now using Voalte smartphones in hospitals across the country, it’s gratifying to hear the benefits that better communication technology can bring: more efficient workflows, better care collaboration, less time waiting for call-backs and much more. Carl Josehart, CEO of TIRR Memorial Hermann told us, “Voalte is the best thing we have ever done for our nurses at this facility.”
As you consider your technology investments, consider the impact those systems will have on the people who use them every day. Will they help or hinder their ability to provide the best possible patient care?
Sean Friel is Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing at Voalte.