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New technologies help hospitals improve operations

Devin Scott, Chief Executive Officer, Stealth Power

In the past several decades, the healthcare industry has gained a reputation for being slower than other industries to adopt new technologies. When considering the fact that resources and funding are often prioritized for patient care along with the fact that investment in technology is not seen as a revenue-generator like it is in other industries, it’s understandable why there are barriers to wide-scale adoption of new innovations. As a result, the advanced technology that society has come to expect in most organizations is not always present in healthcare.

However, when the right products come around, healthcare IT decision makers can be just as excited as an IT leader in any industry, and there are many recent developments in the technology space that have gotten their attention. These are technologies that are increasingly benefiting operations, patient outcomes and cost, and they will only continue to make waves in hospitals across the country.

Automated disinfection systems

A hospital’s sanitation strategy is instrumental to its operations. The speed, cost and efficiency at which hospitals eliminate harmful microorganisms have an enormous impact on an organization’s bottom line, to say nothing of patient health. Growing concern around hospital-acquired infections – driven by Medicare’s 2014 decision to reduce payments for the worst performing hospitals in that area, as well as concerns about Ebola and Zika – has led to the development of new and improved hospital disinfection tools that are fit for the modern healthcare system.

While traditional disinfection systems rely on the hands-on application of chemicals, these new automated disinfecting robots rely on either hydrogen peroxide vapors (HPV) or ultraviolet-C light to disinfect hospital rooms, emergency vehicles and other potentially infectious spaces. The automated robots can spend anywhere from five minutes to three hours effectively disinfecting a room without disrupting hospital operations. The reduction in germs has already proven to reduce hospital-acquired infections, which has resulted in financial benefits for the healthcare systems that are using the technology. Additionally, patients of these hospitals are beginning to realize fewer infections from organisms like MRSA and C. diff., and while the results are still early, they are promising.

As disinfection systems continue to improve, hospitals and patients alike will continue to reap the benefits of optimized sanitation.

Data analytics

With the near-universal use of EHR systems in the healthcare industry, the availability of data on everything from accounts receivable to disease incidence is abundant. In order to make actionable insights on this information, more and more hospitals are adopting data analytics platforms to harness the data already at their disposal to improve operations.

While data analytics in healthcare is not a new concept, the growing conversation around the U.S. healthcare system has led to a more conscientious nation focused on improving costs and efficiencies. When coupled with the ever-improving data analytics landscape, the result is the improved efficacy of data management tools. These analytics platforms can track organizational performance, patient progress, revenue cycles and more to produce objective metrics on cost-effectiveness, productivity and health.

Data analytics in healthcare will continue to gain traction as consumers increasingly demand transparency into their healthcare spending, and it will be exciting to see organizations reap the benefits of data-driven decision making.

Idle reduction technology

In order to operate, ambulances need constant electric power to run vital equipment for patient care. Historically, this has required ambulances to continuously idle their engines, leading to costly fuel bills, expensive engine repairs and an increase of harmful emissions. In fact, exhaust chemicals such as nitrogen oxide, benzene and sulfur dioxide – primarily ingested by paramedics, patients-in-transit and emergency room patients – have been linked to diseases such as asthma, heart disease and cancer. As a result, hospitals are spending tens of thousands of dollars per emergency vehicle in unnecessary fuel and maintenance costs while exposing their employees and patients to dangerous fumes.

In order to combat these negative results from engine idling, many healthcare systems are now adopting idle reduction technology for their ambulance and EMS fleets. Idle reduction technology operates for hours at a time without fuel in order to decrease fuel and maintenance costs, all while reducing harmful and unhealthy combustion engine byproducts. The return on investment for a typical idle reduction system takes less than one year, so it’s no wonder healthcare systems are adopting the technology to improve their bottom lines.

The financial, health and environmental benefits of idle reduction systems render adoption of the technology a no brainer, and hospitals are understandingly adopting the practice more and more.

Looking forward

The future of hospital technology will be characterized by efficiency and the optimized use of resources. As operational technologies advance, machines that maximize productivity with limited human involvement will continue to gain popularity and improve bottom lines for hospitals, while increased visibility into everything from patient care to billing cycles will result in a system of continuous improvement.

Investing in the right technology strategies for your organization can produce enormous benefits for doctors, patients and hospital staff alike. It’s important to note that while investing in new technologies is necessary for growth, it’s equally necessary to monitor the results of new technology deployments in order to best serve your needs. As the conversation around healthcare continues to change, it’s imperative that hospital decision makers are armed with the best technology to optimize operations, improve quality of care and reduce unnecessary costs.