Hospitals are using a wide array of technology to provide a better patient experience. This ranges from apps that help determine cancer risk to devices that allow medical professionals conduct examinations remotely. But, this is just scratching the surface of how technology enables doctors to provide better patient care.
“Combining new and evolving technologies with the traditional basics of providing compassionate care allows us to provide new and more effective patient-centered care,” says Richard Davis, president and CEO at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C.
It used to be if you needed to share X-rays of a broken limb with a specialist, you’d have to fax multiple forms to obtain a CD of the image. Today, more than 800 hospitals, medical groups, and private practices use a medical image management platform by Ambra that gives patients the convenience of requesting and uploading their X-ray images using a web browser.
A Prevalent Belief in Health-Enhancing Medical Technology
The general public believes that technology will improve healthcare efficiency, quality, safety, and cost. However, few people consider that these same technologies may also introduce errors and adverse events. Given that nearly 5,000 types of medical devices are used by millions of healthcare providers around the world, device-related problems are inevitable.
While technology and how it enables doctors to provide better patient care holds much promise, the benefits of a specific technology may not be realized due to four common pitfalls:
- Poor technology design that does not adhere to human factors and ergonomic principles;
- Poor technology interface with the patient or environment;
- An inadequate plan for implementing a new technology into practice, and
- An inadequate maintenance plan.
Patient care technology has become increasingly complex, transforming the way nursing care is conceptualized and delivered. Before extensive application of technology, doctors and nurses relied heavily on their senses of sight, touch, smell, and hearing to monitor patient status and to detect changes. Over time, the health professional’s unaided senses were replaced with technology designed to detect physical changes in patient conditions.
Consider the case of pulse oximetry. Before its widespread use, nurses relied on subtle changes in mental status and skin color to detect early changes in oxygen saturation, and they used arterial blood gasses to confirm their suspicions. Now pulse oximetry allows nurses to identify decreased oxygenation before clinical symptoms appear, and thus more promptly diagnose and treat underlying causes.
Medical Technology and Patient Care: Risks and Rewards
While technology has the potential to improve care, it is not without risks. Technology has been described as both part of the problem and part of the solution for safer health care, and some observers warned of the introduction of yet-to-be errors after the adoption of new technologies.
For example, nurses and other healthcare providers can be so focused on data from monitors that they fail to detect potentially important subtle changes in clinical status. Problems may emerge based on the sheer volume of new devices, the complexity of the devices, the poor interface between multiple technologies at the bedside, and the haphazard introduction of new devices at the bedside.
Despite the billions of dollars spent each year on an ever-increasing array of medical devices and equipment, the medical profession has paid little attention to the implementation of technology and its integration with other aspects of the healthcare environment.
GDS hopes to change that for Boston-area doctors, hospitals, and other medical offices.
Patient care technologies of interest to nurses range from relatively simple devices, such as catheters and syringes, to highly complex devices, such as barcode medication administration systems and electronic health records. Technology can be broadly defined to include clinical protocols and other “paper” based tools, but here we will focus more on equipment and devices that nurses are likely to encounter in delivering direct care to patients. It’s our express aim to provide a conceptual and pragmatic model for the management of IoT-connected medical technologies that nurses are likely to encounter and to delineate strategies for promoting their effective and safe use.
Electronic Medical Records
Healthcare professionals who work with medical billing and coding know the strides technology has made. In the last few decades, medical billing and coding have switched from being a paper-based system to a computerized format. Under HIPAA laws, medical practitioners had to develop new software in order to securely send out electronic bills.
Doctors are benefiting immensely from the drive toward electronic medical records. With one touch of a button, doctors can access all the care a patient has ever received and can figure out possible illnesses. Another benefit of this new technology is that it enables statistical documentation of the whole population. It can also help to make the healthcare system more transparent and can be integrated with reimbursement data. As the healthcare system changes, this will prevent unnecessary costs and make it easier to get the reimbursements needed to treat a patient.
Need Safe Technology That Enables Medical Professionals to Provide Better Patient Care?
GDS helps companies nationwide establish better healthcare IT best practices so today’s medical practitioners can secure patient data, collaborate with their patients better, and keep providing the care for which they’re sought-after.
For specialized management of technology that enables today’s medical professionals to provide better care for patients in safe, as well as secure, compliant ways that guarantee total data protection, visit GDS and contact us at (888) 849-6818 or info@GDSConnect.com for more information.