A key to optimal patient care is having the right data at the right time, which also includes the ability to exchange it across platforms. But that’s easier said than done in today’s healthcare environment, where caregivers often are given too much data with too little context to develop an actionable care plan. In the face of too much and too little information, clinical insecurities worsen clinical burnout.
As critical care grows in complexity and data sources become more disparate, the need for cohesive, standardized patient management is increasingly evident. However, adding more technology to fix the woes of other technology often can require many additional resources and can become overwhelming.
Overall, building a patient management program – most notably in the wake of COVID-19 – is critical. Healthcare IT News sat down with Dr. Huiling Zhang, head of medical office for connected care at Philips, to discuss these issues to help healthcare CIOs and other health IT leaders wrap their heads around technology-enabled patient management programs.
Q. Caregivers often are given too much data with too little context to develop an actionable care plan. With too much – or too little – data, clinical insecurities worsen clinical burnout. What can be done to resolve this problem?
A. To be successful and develop actionable care plans, clinicians need the right amount of data, with meaningful insights, at the right time. Otherwise, we risk inefficient clinical decision-making, inefficiencies among hospital staff, patient safety risk, and, ultimately, clinical burnout.
Standardized patient-monitoring solutions can help address this issue by capturing patient data from devices across the enterprise with real-time clinical monitoring, and securely transferring the information directly to EHRs.
A successful standardized patient monitoring solution integrates with existing IT solutions and delivers a consistent interface for connected devices across acuity levels. Additionally, it enables visibility into patient conditions anytime and anywhere for real-time monitoring, and continuously feeds data from disparate sources into the EHRs.
These solutions can help mitigate stress on care teams by reducing tedious tasks, facilitating faster, more accurate care decisions, and providing staff with the freedom to focus more attention on patient care.
Addressing alarm fatigue can also improve clinical work environments and allow staff to deliver better patient care. Alarm-based data can be delivered directly to the appropriate clinician’s smartphone, allowing them to assess the situation and make informed decisions about a patient’s state.
This technology can determine exactly which clinicians need to be alerted, avoid interrupting nonessential personnel, and tailor alerts to the needs of specific patients to drive effective and timely decision-making.
Another way to address the issue of clinician burnout, especially during the pandemic when the Delta variant persists and as hospitals continue to face large patient influxes, is by implementing critical care training.
Critical care nurses often are tasked with caring for their own critical-care patients, as well as supervising noncritical-care nurses to ensure standard levels of care are maintained. Protocols for cross-training staff so that the appropriate care teams are informed will help health systems address these problems and further solve the issue of clinician burnout.
Acute telehealth and virtual command centers, equipped with real-time data sharing and two-way communication between the bedside and virtual care stations, are another helpful approach in alleviating frontline clinician burdens. Centralized clinical command centers can help provide holistic patient views from a remote location, helping alleviate infection risk, as well as addressing sudden increases in patients and allocating resources effectively.
Q. Critical care has been growing in complexity, and data sources for it have been becoming more disparate. A cohesive, standardized patient management solution is one way to go. However, adding more technology to fix other technology could overwhelm the system. What are your thoughts on ways to go with critical care?
A. When caring for critically ill patients, conditions often are unpredictable and can deteriorate rapidly. Health systems need cohesive, comprehensive patient management systems to provide connectivity across the care continuum.
Technology that can provide continuous surveillance, predictive analytics and advanced interoperability can help clinicians closely monitor patients and avoid gaps, delays or inaccuracies in patient data, while also giving caregivers the time they need to devote to their patients. To achieve this, there are three characteristics acute patient management solutions must have.
First, they must focus on early deterioration detection. Signs of a patient’s deterioration can show six to eight hours before a critical event, and any delay in recognizing and addressing this can lead to critical – or even fatal – circumstances. Early deterioration detection solutions that are user-friendly and interoperable with other solutions can help provide clinicians with the right patient data at the right time, improving both patient outcomes and clinical confidence and collaboration.
Second, patient-management solutions must be scalable and secure in order to build fully integrated IT environments with cohesive data streams. Further, implementing enterprise-wide patient monitoring solutions that are intuitive to use and scalable for different settings and needs will help.
Third, these solutions need to prioritize workflow optimization. In order to avoid workflow inefficiencies and costly care – two of the biggest hindrances in critical care – standardizing workflows and equipment, as well as organizing training, can help. Health systems can leverage technology partners in these instances to help implement and support change management efforts that will help address clinical and operational goals.
Q. Clearly, care teams cannot treat what they do not know. Gaps, delays and inaccuracies in patient data can leave already overburdened care teams struggling to put the pieces together. When systems can’t keep up, data can be missed and consequences can be high. What can healthcare provider organizations do to get a handle on these data issues?
A. Hospitals need solutions and tools that enable real-time data to flow smoothly with the right governance, and that leverage predictive insights to help equip care teams with the information needed to make shared decisions. To achieve this, organizations need robust data-sharing infrastructures and technologies that can work together across platforms.
Effective monitoring of patients is of the utmost importance here – not only to alert clinicians when a patient’s condition deteriorates, but also to enable organized data capture and support good care decisions. Standardizing with a single advanced monitoring system is crucial, especially when units rely on a variety of solutions that don’t work together in unison.
Another consideration for hospitals is leveraging cloud-based systems that collect, digest and analyze data and allow it to be accessed anytime and anywhere, including in traditional hospital environments. Connected devices that continuously feed into cloud-based software keep care teams informed of a patient’s condition and provide them with the ability to personalize care and activate interventions.