At a time when hospitals are under more pressure than ever to deliver efficient, patient-centered care, healthcare professionals have more data at their fingertips than ever before. Is there technology to leverage that data and support the collaboration necessary to bring it all together?
In a word, yes. Hospitals across the country are implementing collaboration tools that improve patient outcomes and streamline workflows. Central to their success is the ability to access information and communications from any device via the cloud.
Access via mobile devices
In a 2018 survey, Spyglass Consulting found that 73 percent of U.S. hospitals have developed, or are in the process of developing, mobile-based communications and collaboration solutions. Here are some examples of how they’re leveraging mobile devices:
Virtual desktops allow users to access data and interact with coworkers easily via a web browser. That means no matter what the device – desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone – the interface is consistent. No more switching from one platform to another in order to communicate with colleagues.
Virtual meeting places enable healthcare teams to share images, documents and data. For example, imagine a nurse who needs to confer with a specialist who at that moment is only available via mobile device. At a push of a button, she can set up a conference call that’s accessible via any device and share crucial patient data.
Capture and share. Healthcare professionals at Miami’s Nicklaus Children’s Hospital can use a mobile device to capture and upload clinical images into their electronic health record (EHR) systems. When a nurse at a bedside takes a photo and uploads it into the secure EHR, other members of their team can immediately see the patient’s status and confer on the care plan.
Mobile social intranet. What if staff across multiple hospitals could overcome interoperability issues and collaborate easily? They can, by using APIs. One hospital system created a tool to connect different communications platforms and enable staff to communicate via a mobile-based social intranet. Information that was previously trapped in various silos – such as emails, chats, social platforms and customer service inquiries – are brought together in one centralized, secure virtual location. As a result, healthcare professionals across campuses can discuss cases with colleagues and easily share data, files and images.
Telemedicine. Hospitals are making increasing use of communications via Internet-based devices. A common use case is communicating remotely with stroke victims, where time is critical. An on-call neurologist, sitting at her child’s soccer game, can connect via her smartphone, laptop or tablet to monitor a patient miles away. Working with the attending nurse, she can question the patient and determine a course of action. Many hospitals are also using such technology to reach patients in rural areas, where hospitals aren’t easily accessible.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is also aiding collaboration in hospitals today. Medical IoT devices can transmit health data to a patient’s entire medical team. With the click of a button, a physician can see a patient’s latest vital signs or get critical alerts on his smartphone when sensors note a serious change. He can then initiate a video conference with the care team to determine the best treatment options.
In addition, many hospitals today use IoT devices to track the movement of patients and equipment. The technology is called radio-frequency identification, or RFID. A care team can “see” when the patient leaves the operating room, for example, and prepare for her arrival on the floor. Staff can manage workflows more efficiently and locate essential equipment.
The cloud and collaboration
Interoperability issues, legacy systems and outdated hardware pose significant obstacles for many hospitals. But connecting healthcare professionals to both crucial data and each other is possible via the cloud. Today, web-based tools, accessible from any device, are bringing more collaboration and efficiency to hospitals.