Productivity is defined as output within a certain time period. But this definition is derived from the Industrial Age. When it comes to healthcare, nuance matters: Balanced metrics are more appropriate than a simple KPI (key performance indicator).
The Hippocratic Oath of ancient Greece requires a professional to pursue maximum effectiveness in the medical field. "I ... will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them."
Quality care involves the following combination, according to World Health Organization (WHO): scientific approach; safety; timeliness; cost-effectiveness and cost-efficiency of treatments; and sensitivity to patients' wishes.
Here are tech trends that boost the effectiveness of senior care. And by effectiveness, we mean the increase of staff productivity; lower costs; better outcomes; and convenience.
Collaborate through EHR and shareable platforms.
Electronic health records is a modern adaptation of the Tower of Babel in which smart doctors and nurses are unable to communicate with each other.
One out of 6.5 Americans (or 47 million people) are senior citizens. The medical records of older Americans often reside across many legacy systems. Of what benefit are medical training and data intelligence if you can't use them? (Or even communicate.)
Silos impede productivity and effectiveness. They're also dangerous: Medical errors is the third-leading cause of U.S. patient deaths, killing over 250,000 Americans each year.
Hippocrates is rolling in his grave - but a number of startups are aiming to tackle the challenge.
Amchart is building a shareable EHR platform that's compatible with mobile devices. This accomplishes three objectives. Physicians and organizations can access a patient's big data, and improve diagnoses and treatments. They can also collaborate with patients and providers, as well as provide timely decision support. Informed decisions lead to better outcomes.
Helium is another EHR platform that aims to increase efficiency and performance in healthcare administration. The cloud-based platform uses data to provide real-time analytics, reports, and trends.
Use smart devices to prevent costly injuries, and improve convenience.
For frail seniors, a minor accident can potentially become a medical (and financial) nightmare. Falling is the top cause of injury and death that affects one-fourth of older Americans, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Falling incidents lead to head bumps, bone fractures, internal bleeding, and more.
"Seniors who experience a fall double their chance of experiencing another fall in the future," says Christopher Norman, a nursing expert on behalf of Caring.com, an online resource for caregivers. "It's crucial to provide immediate help and assistance if and when a fall happens."
Detection devices, most of which are priced $20-$50, are detailed in Caring.com's guide for medical alert systems. Some charge as low as $10 a month for fall detection, making them extremely cost-effective. Brittle bodies need frequent help from staffers: Real-time attention saves lives and deflates hospital bills, before injuries get worse.
Medical alert systems assist in other ways. Remote nurses can periodically check on seniors, which cuts unnecessary walking to and from a physical facility. Devices such as wrist bands, neck wear, and smart-watches can continually monitor vital signs and relay potential problems. They can automatically remind patients to take medicine or begin online therapy. Most ways that boost effectiveness and improve outcomes.
Analyze patient data and make senior care easier with artificial intelligence.
Google's success shows that data is the new gold mine. But healthcare administration is fraught with red tape: Data silos spotlight bureaucracies' resistance to change; unwillingness to share info; and inability to collect real-time actionable intelligence.
To say that artificial intelligence can boost productivity in healthcare would be an understatement. Healthcare AI will be a $190 billion industry by 2025. For now, it appears AI will be most helpful in pulling, organizing, and identifying patterns in big data that lead to early diagnoses, prevention of diseases, accurate treatments, reduction of medical mistakes, and convenient user experience.
This new era is being called data-driven medicine.
AI-assisted platforms and smart devices are also increasing capabilities in general. Voice assistants, machine learning, and other AI approaches are contextualizing big data, as well as customizing patient treatment and long-term care.
Over 4 trillion gigabytes of healthcare data is generated annually. And this figure doubles every two years, according to 2018 research by Datavant.
AI analysis can complement a clinician's experience, and AI can also connect the dots between fragmented records. For example, computers can identify patients who are at higher risk for certain illnesses based on lab results taken at different facilities at different times.
Productivity and effectiveness go hand-in-hand. In senior care and healthcare, they're essential. Technological advances like smart devices and AI are also raising the bar. Effectiveness means being faithful to doing things right, and to focus on what matters. Just as Hippocrates suggested 2,400 years ago.