I’ve been working in the healthcare IT industry for more than 25 years at major corporations such as Siemens, Cerner and IBM. For the most part, the technologies I helped hospitals implement were related to meeting federal mandates for Meaningful Use of electronic health records. These projects were certainly necessary, but I think it’s safe to say nobody was particularly excited about them.
So you can imagine how I felt at my first Voalte Platform go-live at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, where the nurses were thrilled to receive their Voalte smartphones. In all my years in healthcare, I’ve never seen end users so enthusiastic about getting their hands on a new technology.
It makes sense that there is such a keen desire for smartphone solutions for care team communication and collaboration. Three healthcare trends in particular are fueling the demand:
- Shift in provider payment models – Healthcare organizations previously were paid regardless of whether their patients got better. As the industry shifts from the old fee-for-service model to value-based care, providers will be paid based on clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. When patients can get a quick response to nurse calls, reach a physician efficiently and heal in a quiet environment, that plays a big role in boosting their level of satisfaction.
- Rise of consumerism and competition – Patients are becoming better consumers of healthcare as the cost of their insurance deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses grow. They want to go where they are going to get the best care for their healthcare dollars, whether that’s at the hospital down the street or a facility three states away. As a Forrester report stated, “The empowered healthcare consumer … is one key driver of a change in a massive industry in the midst of transformation.” As patients shop around for the best care, hospitals that invest in the latest technologies for high-quality care will come out on top.
- Staffing shortages and frequent turnover – I’m always impressed at how resourceful nurses can be with very limited tools. I’ve seen nurses collaborating about patient care using white boards, sticky notes, pagers, overhead intercoms and legacy phones. They get the job done, but struggling with inefficient tools takes a toll on nursing satisfaction and job turnover. According to the 2016 National Healthcare Retention & RN Staffing Report, the average cost of turnover for a bedside RN ranges from $37,700 to $58,400. Putting a powerful smartphone in their hands makes a nurse’s job easier, which can result in better job satisfaction and higher retention rates, as well as higher-quality care and patient satisfaction.
It’s gratifying to be able to equip nurses with the solutions they need to do a difficult job, and do it well. The smiles on the faces of the nurses at Maimonides Medical Center said it all.
Tom Wagner is Area Sales Manager at Voalte.