Patient outcomes allow hospitals and healthcare facilities to measure how well they’re doing.
The World Health Organization defines an outcome as a “change in the health status of an individual, group or population which is attributable to a planned intervention or series of interventions.” Measuring outcomes will ultimately improve experience of care and the health of populations, while reducing healthcare costs.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) groups patient outcomes into 7 categories:
- Safety of care
- Patient experience
- Effectiveness of care
- Timeliness of care
- Efficient use of medical imaging
For healthcare facilities, communications is at the heart of improving patient outcomes. As technology solutions grow more sophisticated, all outcomes groups are impacted. Better communications allow patients to receive the life-saving treatments they need, when they need it. Here’s a look at how communications technology is improving patient outcomes.
Mortality is the most important patient outcome. If mortality is improved, that means more lives are saved after admission into the hospital. Communications technology can reduce the time required to contact staff and get them to their required stations.
In hospitals, the odds of survival go up when problems are more immediately addressed. For example, templates for scheduling emergency hospital shifts can mean the difference between being fully-staffed and understaffed. If you can contact offsite staff immediately, your whole team is more prepared to respond to life-threatening situations for patients.
2. Safety of Care
Safety of care improves with a prepared, well-rested, and properly trained staff. When hospital staff is overworked or underprepared, slip-ups are more likely. Patient safety suffers in these cases.
One way to improve safety of care is via running effective emergency drills. The CMS even requires drilling through recently implemented regulations. Drilling effectively means using the right critical communication solutions. When your communication system can alert everyone in different parts of the hospital, or assign tasks to key personnel, or account for everyone in the building in real-time and with mobile alerts, you’ll run better drills and be better prepared for patients. Also, communications technology logs more data, so that better analysis is conducted post-drilling.
Readmission refers to unplanned readmission into hospitals after a patient has completed treatment. Ideally, readmissions occur on an infrequent basis. Communications technology can lower readmission through data streamlining and proper accountability.
Manual data entry is inefficient and can lead to inaccuracies. Today, communications technology automatically updates data and connects systems for interoperable communication. The more accurate information a nurse or physician has, the better they can perform their jobs. When patient data from several systems is pulled up and updated automatically, readmissions are likely to go down.
4. Patient Experience
For patients, being in the hospital is often a stressful and scary experience. While patient experience doesn’t necessarily mean the difference between life or a death, a positive hospital experience is extremely important. Communication can go a long way toward improving this experience. In case of long delays or bad news, prompt communication and full transparency will help.
Communications technology can perform tasks like reducing IT downtime and alerting affected personnel and patients. Workaround solutions can be relayed quickly to staff members, who can maintain the vital lines of communication with all individuals. Patients don’t want to sit around in hospital beds wondering what is going on or when they will be seen. Communications technology can cut down on those waiting times.
5. Effectiveness of Care
Effectiveness of care is about looking holistically at each patient and making the best decisions for each case. Effectiveness of care in turn impacts readmissions, patient experience, and many other patient outcomes.
Effectiveness of care is all about treatment in the moment, but the decisions that precede that treatment are impacted by communications technology. For example, networked hospital communications can provide audit trails and records that inform nurses and physicians about surgery, notes, requests, and consultations.
6. Timeliness of Care
Timeliness of care improves when an entire healthcare facility is able to prioritize patient cases effectively. This prioritization cannot happen without visibility into the complex systems and individuals within the hospital’s ecosystem.
For example, traditionally hospitals got in touch with staff by calling landlines, leaving messages, paging, and sending email and text messages. These methods of communication were difficult to track and audit. With communications technology, recipients can check in to notify they’ve received a message, providing rapid personnel accountability and compliance with emergency processes.
7. Efficient Use of Medical Imaging
Medical imaging tests and screens for various medical conditions through pictures, such as CT scans, MRIs, and mammograms. These screens are effective, but can be very expensive and resource-intensive.
Hospitals can get more bang for their buck through communications technology. Networked communications platforms can allow for end-to-end messaging that unifies all communication modalities, including mapping, photo uploads, and scanning. Tools like MRIs and CT scans go further when they’re uploaded across an entire network, providing integrated information to several teams at once.
By adapting communications technology, all patient outcome areas are impacted for the better. Teams can react more efficiently to alerts, ensuring faster response times and faster delegation of duties. Communications technology also helps streamline information across disparate teams and systems.