The pandemic has fast-tracked the adoption of various technologies in healthcare i.e., telemedicine.
How should we embrace these technologies?
Would these changes be the beginning of a whole lot of transformation that health technology is going to bring?
Should we start discussing how we can use these technologies efficiently and safely without causing patient harm?
- How can you get more clients or patients without breaking a bank?
- How can you improve the quality of care you provide?
- How can you improve patients’ experience and your own experience in the work you do?
- How can you reduce the cost of doing business and the cost of healthcare?
If you ever pondered on the questions above, you are not alone.
Our health system has put us in a position whereby we are constantly in a crisis mode, day in day out, extinguishing various fires.
It might seem there is no other way since we have gotten used to the way we practice, but what if there is another way?
Would you go for it?
Currently, you have so many technologies in place that can provide you with all the information you need to manage healthcare efficiently and safely especially in this period where the adoption of digital tools is on the rise.
Health records and information technology are the keys to providing patient-centered care while observing the safety of the patient helping us attain universal health coverage in Kenya.
It gets better…
You can measure the performance of almost every process in some way.
All the investments you put in digital tools, their return on investment can be measured through various ways and that is what is fascinating about these tools.
You will be able to quickly identify waste and reduce or eliminate them.
I remember sometimes back; I got a website designed in the hope of getting more clients for a business I had.
I doubt it if I added more clients by putting up that website, the reason being, I could not measure its effectiveness or reach.
I thought by just having a year-old website and social media pages with no goal-oriented posts was enough.
Maybe that works for some but unfortunately, it did not work for me.
In your organizations or practice, some of you have marketing departments and some do not.
For those with marketing departments, ever thought of the following questions:
- How many clients did the marketing department get me this week or month exclusively from their activities?
- Does the revenue from these clients offset the money invested into the department including personnel salary?
- Which marketing strategy brought in more clients or revenue? I would do more of these.
- Which marketing strategy should be abandoned maybe because it does not target your type of client? Or not profitable?
If you do not have a marketing department, do not worry. The key is to provide the right information to the right audience at the right time.
This can easily be done even in a solo practice, just by optimizing your online presence for your type of clients.
The most important part is to measure the performance of all these marketing strategies and stick to the ones that work while tweaking those that do not work to achieve your goal.
We have sites like google analytics that help with tracking or monitoring your website performance and visitors.
Hootsuite helps you manage all your social media accounts.
When you get sick, in most cases what is the first thing you will do? Google, right? the majority of us google our symptoms when we get sick, and sometimes it’s out of curiosity.
What if I find the information that I am looking for from your website, plus a prompt for booking for a telemedicine consultation or in-person visit right away.
You have just landed a client out of a blog or information you posted online which in most cases is way cheaper than mass advertising marketing i.e. TV ads.
Your online presence is paramount in this era, and it’s not just about your presence, it is about what content you put out there.
Helping your patients benefit from the services you offer by creating awareness and providing health education will help you grow your business.
There is a lot of distraction on the internet, it only takes around 3 seconds for someone to decide to abandon your website, so you must make sure your website is fast, looks good on mobile, and easily found on google through searches related to services you offer.
Moreover, you could use your online presence be it a website or social media profile.
- To distribute e-bronchures thus reducing cost on prints.
- For customer service or customer self-service which reduces strain on your employees.
- To provide products and services for sale over the internet which generates more revenue.
Here is an article on how to go about designing and marketing your medical practice online.
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Quality of Care
Medication errors happen a lot in healthcare settings, putting in the wrong medication, dose, route, or quantity of medication when prescribing or dispensing.
Due to our human factors, these errors do occur, and you cannot blame it on carelessness sometimes.
We all want to see our patients get better and I doubt if anyone does these errors intentionally.
This is where you should have a smart health information system come to your rescue to prevent patient harm and improve the patient’s experience.
Getting a health information system like an electronic health record that can prompt under dosage, overdosage, automatically pick the right medication having been pre-fed with insurance information.
Clinical notes and medication information should be able to integrate with laboratory results whereby the system can notify the provider if a certain medication is what is causing a particular condition based on the laboratory results.
The benefits of digital health, which in simple terms refers to the use of technology in health, are enormous.
You can take advantage of these software programs to increase your production capabilities by up to 50%, for instance automating manual tasks which get more done with accuracy and less time.
Offering decision support tools to reduce the time taken to arrive at a decision can save a patient’s life.
You can adopt therapy monitoring tools to notify you of impending serious complications before they manifest i.e. sepsis and intervene in good time.
Most processes in healthcare can be optimized with health technology for efficiency and safety, especially error-prone areas like prescribing, dispensing, and administration.
From day to day running of your business to capturing valuable data automatically which will reduce electronic health record burnout by you spending less time in front of the computer.
These software applications if correctly implemented will always have a return on investment.
The trick is to get a software application that is specifically tailored for you and your needs rather than adapting to pre-made (of the shelf) software applications.
You can always add on new features or functions in a software application.
Starting with the most basic features or functions and learning what is needed and what is not needed as the application is being used, would be the best route to getting a smart long-term software application that every feature will be relevant to you.
Remember, having extra features that you do not use is just another form of waste, you paid for something you do not even use.
Watch out for our subsequent blogs on how to increase the efficiency and safety of the various processes you have in health care by use of health information systems software applications.
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Improving patients’ experience with data analytics.
Healthcare has a lot of documentation and some are duplicated.
The information is spread out in different reports.
Compiling all this information, copy-pasting from one document to another, trying to analyze messy data, can take a toll on someone.
It takes a lot of time to analyze this type of data and you are never sure how accurate it is.
Of course, this leads to not-so-accurate conclusions, affecting the quality of care.
You can alternatively get a health information system where you store all your data nicely integrated and communicating with each other.
Moreover, you can retrieve specific information from different reports and integrate them automatically to be analyzed and visualized.
With all your data integrated and visualized, you can now start asking the right questions to get an insight into what the data is saying, intervene and assess the effectiveness of every decision you make as you improve on patients’ experience.
Patient experience can be improved by knowing what patients have undergone already and how they felt about it or what outcome they got.
With data in one place, offering patient-centered care will be easy, you can use the data you have to test out different interventions to see what works by constantly monitoring the changes in patterns or trends.
Having that power to detect patterns and turning high-volume data into actionable knowledge might be what you need for precision medicine and decision-making to accelerate universal health coverage.
With data in place, to perform analytics:
- Choose the problem you want to solve
- Organize the relevant data for that problem
- Cleaning of the data, sort of preparing data i.e. removing some blank or inaccurate information
- Visualization in various ways using charts and graphs to detect patterns and trends.
There is more…
This same data can be used to train computer programs that enable automation of various processes in your health system i.e. identity verification, documentation.
Programs that can identify and provide an assessment of the probability of future outcomes i.e. some programs that support preventive health, offer medical supplies prediction for effective inventory management.
You collect a lot of data from the health information system that you use.
What do you do with it?
Do you use that data to its fullest potential?
Imagine all the answers and insights you have gotten from a shallow analysis of your data, now imagine if you had the power to dig deeper into that data, what would you find?
Data might not have all the answers you need but it will lead you to ask the right questions, which leads to more questions that might lead to the answers you are looking for.
Your greatest strategy might just be within your reach, hidden in your data.
Check out our article on what more you can get from Healthcare Data Analytics.
So how do you get to implement all these?
Getting on board
How to implement the above involve different disciplines in the Information Technology field. It revolves around having a website, digital marketing, software application development, and data science using artificial intelligence.
Being digitized is not a sprint but a marathon, it’s a learning process of knowing what works and what doesn’t, then adapting, as necessary.
Consider it as a long-term relationship with your IT consultant.
Tripleaim software as our name suggests here is focused on implementing these technologies to strengthen the health system in Kenya.
Healthcare workers also deserve time to enjoy life like everyone else, going on vacation, attending your child’s sports day event.
You all have various places you wish to go, but because of work, it’s always ‘next time am on leave…‘.
Adopting these technologies to reduce the crisis and the ever-burning fires in healthcare might be the key to your freedom.