What Should Doctors and Clinics Look for When Making Technology Choices?

The obvious advantages of technology adoption have made it an integral part of the fabric of businesses today. There is hardly any business that is untouched by technology and in order to stay ahead of the curve, all businesses today are making sure that their information systems evolve and grow at the same pace as the technological advancements.

The healthcare industry, too, has extensively adopted technology to streamline processes, increase efficiencies and productivity, and improve patient care and healthcare outcomes. By 2022, we can expect the global healthcare information systems market to technology market to grow to approximately 60.00 billion from approximately USD 41.20 billion in 2016. These are compelling figures that show that technology adoption in the healthcare segment in on a healthy incremental growth.

Having said this, it is not just large hospitals that can leverage technology for its benefits. Small practices too can reap the same benefits from technology. However, when making a technology choice there are some parameters that should be considered to ensure that the technology helps in improving costs and efficiencies along with patient outcomes. The technology solution should be a comprehensive product that not only helps in clinic management but can provide integrated healthcare experiences. In this blog, we take a look at a few parameters that doctors must look for when making technology choices to give their practice the technological edge.

Usability

Great usability forms the crux of any good information system. When selecting an information system for their practice, doctors, thus, should ensure that the system has easy to use user interfaces, allows easy data entry with minimal typing, facilitates easy data exchange etc. and ensure that the software that they purchase facilitates high performance. It should have an intuitive user interface and should ensure easy navigation of the system.

Implementation

Which technology solution are you most likely to use – one that is available in a ready to use, plug-and-play format or one that demands a huge time investment to achieve the same result? When choosing a technology solution for a practice, it is best to choose one that provides comprehensive features but comes in an easy to use, plug-and-play format and does not have a steep learning curve. Considering doctors and their administrative staff both are extremely busy, purchasing a technology solution that is complex, has a steep learning curve and takes a long time to implement will only impede the use of the solution and leave it as an overhead cost.

Comprehensive Solution

Good things come in small packages. However, today the package has to be small and yet has to be comprehensive. Doctors do not have the time to invest in making different technology choices for different functionalities and hence demand a solution that is comprehensive and fully-functional and at the same time. A technology solution should, thus, connect the entire practice ecosystem on one common platform. From patient management, practice management, finance management to data analytics, the solution should connect all the dots easily and demand minimal effort from its users to ensure that the doctors can focus on their most important area – their patients. Many a times technology implementations in clinics fail mainly because the doctors do not receive a comprehensive solution and have to make multiple technology purchases to meet their requirements.

Mobility

Today, if a technology solution does not provide mobility then it is most likely to fail. Since doctors are always on the move, they need to make sure that the solution in use gives them the mobility advantage so that they can be productive even when they are on the go. Thus, the solution should be accessible on the mobile and should allow them to make iterations from the phone itself. For example, if a doctor wants to access a patient’s health record, or upload patient history or share test results etc. they should be able to do so from their handheld device irrespective of their location.

Scalability

If a technology solution does not offer scalability then it is most likely to fail its purpose. Having a cloud-based solution that can handle multiple loads and increase its capacity and facilitate the addition of additional features according to the needs of a practice become essential for successful implementation of a technology solution for any practice.

Patient integration

Patients today are the consumers of healthcare. The technology choice, thus, should provide an integrated platform where they can store their health records, test results, health history, provide prescription management etc. and allow them to access these anytime, anywhere so that the patients can get proactively involved in their own health management.

Along with the above, the technology should take into account how its users are going to utilise the solution. The solution provider should talk to the users and assess their usability demands and then make iterations to the solution and provide customisation options to suit the needs of the customers to ensure that the solution meets the user demands. The product should provide an interoperable structure, understand the clinical goals and increase cost efficiencies in order to benefit the practice by increasing productivity and ensuring that the key priorities of the practice are met at all times.

5 Technologies That Are Finding Their Home In Modern Clinics

In a doctor’s overscheduled life, the one thing that has elevated premium is ‘time’. Hospital visits, clinics, surgeries, and paperwork are just a few of the things that fill up a doctor’s day. With little or no time left in hand after doing the most important thing that they do, that is to look after their patients, managing a doctor’s diary is no mean feat. However, given the time that we are in, technology is making itself quite comfortable in the doctor’s clinic and helping that ecosystem become more organised, sorted and productive, which, at the end of the day, is making the life of the doctor easier to manage. In this blog, we take a look at five technologies that are making their home in modern day clinics and helping them function better, smarter and with greater efficiency

Appointment Management System

Managing multiple calendars for appointment management is a time-consuming task, one that is prone to the errors of overscheduling which leads to poor time management. Modern day clinics are leveraging appointment management applications that give them a bird’s eye view of the doctor’s schedule and helps them plan, schedule and organise patient appointment better and avoid overlaps. Since most doctors usually have more than one clinic to run, with the help of such a system scheduling and re-scheduling of appointments can be done with greater efficiency and each clinic can keep track of the daily appointment schedule without the burden of unnecessary overlaps.

Patient Data Management

In order to enhance the quality of care and improve patient outcomes, patient data management systems are being leveraged not only by large hospitals but smaller clinics as well. Having a central data repository that contains all the relevant patient information can be a huge boon for the doctors. There are so many times that the doctor and patient’s time is rendered unproductive because the patient is not able to provide some relevant report or health-related information at the time of the appointment. Having a record of all reports, x-rays, blood work, scans, lab reports, and other such test results and patient history etc. in one central database that can be accessed anytime, anywhere ensures that the time spent with the patient is productive and constructive and unnecessary delays are avoided at all costs.

Smartphones aka mHealth

Since smartphones today are being used for everything from managing your banking and finance activities to shopping, why should healthcare be left behind? Doctors today are using their smartphone for a lot more activities than just checking their emails. Healthcare applications that allow them to manage their practice, access patient data and health records, check their clinic’s finances, referrals and resource utilisation etc. are witnessing increased adoption. With the help of technologies such as the cloud, all the information that a doctor could want to ensure that his/her practice is running smoothly is now readily accessible at their fingertips through their smartphone. Utilising such integrated healthcare management applications is helping doctors manage their time better as they can access any piece of information that they want, when they want, irrespective of where they are.

Big Data Analytics

Big Data has generated a lot of hype and the healthcare industry is no stranger to this technology. While for a decade or so, big data adoption was done primarily by larger medical outfits and pharma companies to improve their outcomes, accelerate innovation and drive research, big data analytics is now making its home in modern day clinics as well. Such clinics are utilising data analytics to meet their analytics and reporting needs and improve patient outcomes. For example, with the help of big data analytics, clinics dig deep into patient data and lab results to identify trends in a year when a particular ailment strikes more viciously than others. It can also help them identify patients who are ‘at-risk’ for these ailments and help them take preventive action. Data analytics is also being used in clinics to analyse the relationships between treatment plans and diagnostics, identify potential treatment plans, establish benchmarks for quality, optimise operational workflow management and also create data-driven patient population lists.

AI Diagnostics

While computers and Artificial Intelligence cannot replace doctors, they most certainly can help the doctors by providing them with clinically relevant data in real-time to better patient outcomes. Diagnostic AI systems are already in use in some modern day clinics and use biometric data clubbed with the patients’ health data to assess the conversation between the doctor and patient and make notes and suggest treatment plans. AI systems also send pop-up notifications to the doctor’s phones when they see that a particular medication might not work for a person for some reason such as a genetic trait. This allows the doctor to change the prescribed medication quickly. These systems can also help doctors identify which patients are more likely to require certain medications in the future and assess the risks associated with alternate medications etc.

Just like hospital management systems have made hospital operations better and have significantly helped in improving patient outcomes, adopting technology in the modern day clinic is only going to improve efficiencies, help doctors win the race against time, and enable them to keep their focus on the singularly most important facet of the entire healthcare ecosystem – the patient.

Must-have Modules in a Hospital Management System

The topic of conversation in the recently hosted ‘India 2020 – 7th National Conference on Health & Hospital Management” at the DY Patil University, School of Management focused on the opportunities and challenges present in the healthcare system. Dr Daver Medical Director, HN Reliance Hospital, emphasised the importance of technology in healthcare and said, “We need leaders in our industry who can come up with innovative ways, with a passion and agility, to bridge the gap between people and the healthcare system.” Given the changing dynamics of the healthcare industry, technology has become a big contributor to bridge the gap between people and the healthcare system and ensure better healthcare delivery and cost-effectiveness. Doctors too are warming up to technology to gain more visibility into patient information to enable better care delivery and improve collaboration.

Today, providing world-class medical care and ensuring high patient engagement is now top-of-the-mind for most of the healthcare providers as this business is becoming intensely competitive and crowded. Leveraging technology thus becomes essential to ensure that other concurrent tasks, which, though administrative, are equally important to ensure the smooth running of the hospital, do not hijack patient care and impact engagement levels. Currently, one of the largest concerns that hospitals have is that the healthcare ecosystem that is still largely paper-based. This leads to a lot of time and resource wastage. Thus, introducing a cloud-based Hospital Management System that assists the hospital in managing the financial, operational, and administrative tasks ensures that the hospital is running smoothly, efficiently, and professionally. So what modules should a good Hospital Management System have? We cover some essential points in this blog.

Department Management

Large and small hospitals and multi-speciality clinics have large department scheduling and staffing requirements to oversee almost on a daily basis. A good department management module has to provide a detailed yet simple view of multiple schedules of the many physicians present in each specific department and their availability within the hospital. The HMS should also be able to give a snapshot of new, recurring or follow-up appointments for individual doctors or speciality departments. In the case of unavailability of doctors, the HMS should be able to reassign or reschedule appointments. The HMS should be interoperable to allow authorized users to access information from other departments such as pathology, laboratory etc. to facilitate easier transactions within departments and higher productivity.

OPD and IPD Management

Managing the day care and in-patient requirements is a huge task for the hospital management since there are many components involved. Right from admissions, bed management, nurse management, service eligibility, transfers, returns, insurance management to discharge; a Hospital Management system should have a scalable architecture, configurable workflows, and minimal typing so that all the information can be stored and updated easily and can also be retrieved comfortably when needed.

EHR/ EMR management

Having an easy-to-use Electronic Health Records Management System has to be a salient and fundamental component of a Healthcare Management System. The EHR or EMR management should not only include the detailed medical history of the patient but should also enable the hospital to store lab reports, x-rays, other investigative reports, admission and procedure notes, medical record tracking and also allow the doctors to make and update progress notes regarding the patient with ease. Further, ensuring that the EHR/EMR system is accessible to both the patient and the physician via a cloud platform makes way for greater collaboration when needed.

Finance Management

Good finance management is critical to ensure the functional fluidity of a hospital. The aspect of finance, however, does not end only with billings and insurance. Purchase, inventory management, consumption tracking, stock damage, returns and re-orders, supplier payments, credit and debit adjustments, pharmacy sales, prescription-controlled pharmacy sales, cashless billings, flexible consumer plans, discount offers, taxes, etc. are just a few things that a Hospital Management System should be able to effectively manage. Since healthcare is becoming increasingly collaborative, a Hospital Management System should also have a central tracking system that manages the inbound and outbound referrals and associated aspects.

Electronic Mediclaim

Today more and more healthcare insurance providers are entering the market and new policies emerging almost every other day. A good Hospital Management System should be able to update these insurance offers with minimal effort and should be able to enable faster and efficient processing of insurance claims. Along with insurance, a Hospital Management System should also be able to electronically process Mediclaim benefits. By electronically processing the Mediclaim policy, hospitals make it much easier for the patient or the beneficiary to collect the claims and hence ensure greater patient satisfaction.

Hospital Analytics

When it comes to running a hospital well, you can only manage what you can measure. A Hospital Management System should definitely have an analytics module that aggregates all data such as schedules analysis, billings and insurance analysis, performance benchmarking, reporting efficiencies, resource utilization etc. to weed out performance deficiencies and make informed business decisions that can make the hospital run more efficiently.

The hallmark of a good Hospital Management System has to be a user-centred design that ensures the key priorities of the system are met across the complex healthcare environment. However, what is even more important is that the product understands the clinical goals, contractual responsibilities and cost efficiencies and offers an interoperable structure that makes it easy to access anytime, anywhere.