The workloads and expectations on healthcare organisations have grown exponentially, especially in these trying times. Given the industry is heavily understaffed, existing personnel have to cope with long working hours while delivering quality service. Healthcare standards have also advanced where one anticipates contact-free, faster and efficient processes.
If healthcare providers choose to continue with their current procedures, patients and visitors may view them as outdated, with poor quality of care provided. Consequently, patients could potentially switch to other healthcare institutions. Prospective partnership and collaborations may also be shelved
As such, this article looks at some of the tools Australian healthcare organisations could adopt to upgrade their existing system.
1. Compliance management system
A lot can happen within the healthcare premise, which increases the chances of non-compliance occurring. The cost of non-compliance can range from fines, damaged reputation, lawsuits, suspension, to licence revocation.
For instance, misusing information is a type of non-compliance. According to My Health Records, “harsher fines and penalties will now apply for inappropriate or unauthorised use of information in a My Health Record.” Furthermore, the limit for civil fines have been increased to AUD$333,000, and a maximum of 5 years jail duration for criminal penalties.
Healthcare organisations can mitigate the risks associated with non-compliance through a compliance management system!
So what does compliance software do? A compliance management software helps institutions with legal compliance requirements. It does so through a structured approach, utilising three main elements. These three pillars form the foundation for the software, creating a comprehensive guide for employees and management on compliance obligations.
A compliance officer is the one overseeing certain aspects of the system such as compliance programs and audits. They do so through creating procedures within the systems to compliment external regulations. Upon spotting potential compliance risks, compliance managers resolve it by patching the loopholes through compliance software.
With the combination of a compliance officer and compliance system, healthcare organisations can have greater internal and external compliance overlap, reducing compliance risks.
Internal and external compliance audits
Audits are conducted to ensure the organisation’s processes do not violate the regulations.
Compliance officer, or employees within the organisation, are the ones who typically conduct the audit. The audit is used to monitor, refine and update the system with the latest compliance rules, thus reducing potential non-compliance.
Independent third parties perform external audits to verify if the internal compliance is aligned with governmental compliance requirements. Through external audits, institutions can be certain consumers and various stakeholders are protected.
Thus, having both compliance software and an officer can effectively help healthcare organisations manage compliance obligations.
2. Medical equipment management software
As its name suggests, a medical device management system is used to keep track of an institution’s medical assets. It is also adept in ensuring your medical equipment is compliant with the regulations.
Through the software, healthcare organisations can grasp a bigger picture about its inventory and the level of maintenance required. You may wonder, “So how is this system capable of helping me manage my devices?”
Real time equipment status updates
Anything can happen within the healthcare premise. Imagine a machine breaking down during peak periods. Yet, there are many patients awaiting their turn and your staff personnels can only rely on the remaining equipment.
If occurred frequently for a prolonged period, such circumstances can result in high stress intensity which negatively impacts staff personnel’s mental health. This may indirectly affect the quality of service provided to your patients.
A prominent feature of the equipment management software looks at real-time monitoring and job automation of assets. This reduces those panicky moments when a machine breaks down during peak periods.
For example, the system can flag out and prioritise equipment that requires urgent maintenance. Additionally, it can consolidate the status of the various equipment into “in good condition”, “ready to use”, “unavailable”, etc., you get the idea.
From there, healthcare organisations can schedule maintenance, make reservations, or purchase new assets to ensure there is sufficient equipment to cater to their patients.
3. Visitor management system
Organisations welcome people from all walks of life on a daily basis. This makes visitor tracking difficult. Not to mention, it can be a tiring process if your organisation records the data manually.
In the past, missing out a visitor or two on your logbook simply means not having their records. However, in today’s context, visitor tracking translates to contact tracing. Therefore, not documenting the details of all visitors may have serious repercussions.
To avoid instances of accidental data neglection, healthcare providers can adopt a visitor management system to speed up the process of efficient documentation.
Depending on the business structure, healthcare organisations can customise the system according to their needs with features such as visitors’ feedback. The institution may also incorporate functions to welcome visitors to elevate their experience during the stay.
If you think the visitor management software is merely a tool for tracking visitors, then you might want to reconsider it again. Beyond its hard features of data collection, the system delves deeper.
Enhanced physical and data security
A visitor management system can provide your organisation with an additional layer of security with its attributes. Setting up restricted access becomes an effortless chore with the software, and institutions can have better control over areas that require surveillance.
Simultaneously, the software signals the hospitals have taken proper measures to protect the people within the premises.
Reduced operational costs
With the system, healthcare institutions are capable of lowering costs from various aspects.
With real-time monitoring and analytics, organisations can assign manpower based on the demand. During non-peak periods, hospitals can release their staff personnels from visitor management duties to other departments. This can boost healthcare organisations efficiency.
Applying the same concept, healthcare institutions can anticipate peak periods and high demands. As such, they can allocate more manpower to reduce waiting times which enhances visitor satisfaction.
Healthcare institutions can also gain insights on their third party vendor servicing period, helping them avoid additional cost through transparent invoice billing.
4. Patient queue management
Going beyond visitor management, another key aspect healthcare organisations should prioritise is patient management. More specifically, patient queue management.
Having a crowd at the reception area can imply two things. The healthcare institution is either reputable for its medical services, or it can simply mean bad crowd control.
When we enter a room, a waiting line can be obvious. Patients will visually comprehended such information and form impressions based on it. Thus, handling queues is salient in forming a good first impression for potential patients.
What better way to go about it when you can use a patient queue management software?
We’ve all experienced a long waiting time and know how frustrating it is. Imagine patients having to wait for an extended period of time before it’s their turn, when they are already feeling uncomfortable. Through the software, patients can join the queue remotely from anywhere. Not only does it reduce instances of grumpy patients, but also encourage contact-free interactions.
For non-tech savvy patients, they may approach the physical kiosks for automated sign-ins. They will be prompted with mandatory screening questions such as their temperature, personal information and purpose-of-visit.
Real time updates and analysis
By using such a software, backend personnels can receive real time updates about the situation. They can receive data such as:
- The number of patients waiting in line
- The number of patients served
- The quality of the service
- Is there a need for special arrangements?
If the organisation only depends on manual labour to process this data, a lot of communication is required which reduces efficiency and potentially leads to errors.
Healthcare organisations can leverage the data obtained to glean insights on their operational efficiency. They will also have a better understanding on which departments require more manpower and send them down for timely assistance.
5. Electronic medication management system (EMMS)
Apart from accurate consultations, the most basic form of assurance healthcare organisations can provide their patients is error-free medication dispensing. However, it can be time-consuming for institutions if their staff personnels checks yet and again prior to dispensing medication.
To achieve both accuracy and speed, establishing a good electronic medication management system is of utmost importance.
According to the Australian Commission On Safety And Quality In Health Care (ACSQHC), the usage of EMMS in “healthcare services can reduce the number of preventable adverse medication events, and medication prescribing and dispensing errors.”
Streamlining patient’s medical data
Typically, a patient enters your healthcare organisations after it has been quite some time for an appointment or check up. During the consultation, they may convey inaccurate information about their medical records based on what they vaguely remember. This is where the EMMS comes in handy.
Doctors and nurses can retrieve a patient’s medication data from the EMMS containing their medication history and allergies. This helps doctors accurately assess their patients, and reduces the chances of giving a wrong prescription.
Moreover, with the EMMS, staff personnels dispensing the medication can promptly retrieve a patient’s updated medical data. This reduces the waiting time for patients to receive their medication, contributing to a better experience.
By having all the data consolidated in to a system, it implies lesser paperwork needs to be done. As such, doctors and nurses can spend more time communicating with their patients, which enhances their understanding of their patients’ conditions. Not only does this boost consultation efficiency, but also build a closer relationship with their patients.
6. Electronic health records (EHR)
Electronic health records is another comprehensive system which is widely adopted by institutions in the healthcare industry. It can be quite similar to electronic medication management systems, but with added features such as financing.
Some basic functions of electronic health records is storing patients’ health information which includes personal information, laboratory testing history and medication history. The best part about the system is the data can be shared across healthcare organisations!
Through a centralised database, it can reduce instances of data duplication and error. Patients also get to enjoy not having to repeat their medical history every single time they visit a new doctor.
Two of the more common electronic health records system are electronic patient record software (EPR), and electronic medical record software (EMR).
Electronic patient record software (EPR) is where healthcare organisations store their patients information. On the other hand, electronic medical record software (EMR) serves as a patient’s journey map. Within this map, healthcare institutions can have access to:
- Medication types and dosage
- Past and planned procedures
- Patient’s recovery course data
Enhanced billing clarity
The inclusion of a financial module is a key feature for patients. Hospital expenses can be quite hefty and patients often want to know more about what goes into their bill.
Through such a system’s characteristics, hospitals can upload patient’s billing information onto the system. Patients can access these information on an alternative platform, separated from the institution’s internal system.
Additionally, patients can easily access all their hospital financing, such as billing information and invoices on the software software. Therefore, making claims becomes an easier chore than before.
Prior to the adoption of any of these tools, healthcare organisations should relook at their current system. Some considerations are which aspects should be refined, and which areas can be kept status quo.
Having an in-depth understanding of your institution’s current position is a great starting point. Hospitals can create a good system using this knowledge, thereby promoting productivity and cost-efficiency in the long run.