Optimizing the Benefits of Digital Health Operations

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By Nate Kelly, Chief Commercial Officer at Hospital IQ

Although much of the healthcare industry has made great strides to embrace a more virtual, digitized future, many health systems remain that rely on outdated, manual, disparate processes and technologies to operate. While the implementation of electronic medical records (EMRs) and other solutions h ave helped prove the benefits of a more digitally-native industry, health system operations continue to struggle – largely due to inaccurate and/or historical data and analytics that feed these systems false insights and  lead to poor operational decision-making. The rise of digital health brings with it a plethora of new value and benefits to be reaped when investing in digital, automated operations, and with the help of predictive analytics, health systems can fully replace the antiquated industry standard of reactive decision-making, shift to proactive, predictive processes, and increase overall operational efficiency tenfold. 

There are numerous benefits of digital healthcare, but the primary benefit to be highlighted here is the availability of accurate, real-time data to better inform management, clinical, and operational decision making across healthcare enterprises. Organizations have yet to be able to fully realize these benefits due ongoing data challenges and unified communication  issues within the area of operations management. 

While EMRs have done great work in serving as data repositories that make many kinds of data more accessible, sharable and useful for systems, there remains a way to go  until we’re able to fully deliver on the benefits of this increasingly digitized healthcare industry. There is so much more data waiting to be leveraged by health systems to reach peak operational efficiency, and in a timely manner. By tapping into advanced digital health and operation management platforms, health systems can do more with their data and overcome the challenges prohibiting them from becoming data-driven, proactive healthcare entities. 

Organizing disparate data for a better view

Although EMRs can be great resources for data, like clinical, patient data for treatment, some scheduling data, and some operational data, there are handfuls of electronic systems deployed within health systems which  make data unnecessarily disjointed and disparate. With a serious lack of strategic organization and consistency, data is spread through multiple disjointed systems causing critical information, including time and attendance, patient acuity, bed management, environmental services and patient transport, staff scheduling, patient scheduling, and more, to be scattered across a number of disconnected  systems and operational stakeholders, and difficult to access in general, let alone in the timely manner that is actionable and enterprise focuses. While having these disparate systems can help manage specific component(s) of operations, there still is no system in place that will focus on the whole picture and enable enterprise-wide operational excellence.

Receiving and making better use of real-time data 

Health system leadership, analysts and data teams need real-time visibility to be able to utilize predictive analytics, direct actions that have immediate impact,  and operate more efficiently. Traditionally, this information is pulled from disparate systems to assess, study and understand past events, and those data sets are then converted to reports which are intended to help improve future processes. When healthcare-based informatics and reporting teams are consistently pulling data from various information systems, it makes obtaining accurate, real-time data on a regular basis incredibly difficult. With the current processes, hospitals and health systems are taking reactive approaches to what has already happened instead of proactively making decisions on what is currently happening or what will happen soon; which can decrease operational efficiency and affect patient outcomes.

While the statement stands true, “To know your future you must know your past,” in healthcare it’s just as critical to know the present. Increasingly, health systems are reassessing current data processes and implementing enhanced technologies that bring intelligent automation and AI-enabled insights into the mix to understand the present state of operations while it is still present. This intelligent automation brings all your data to the forefront, and easily allows health systems to attain a birds eye view of enterprise-wide operations, enabling organizations to operate proactively and timely.

Creation of digital health command centers

While real-time data-driven insights and predictive capabilities are needed to optimize the benefits of digital health, leveraging this newly attainable knowledge will remain a challenge when it takes place inside of the countless, disparate existing workflows within health systems that were never meant to support real-time operations like we’re seeing today. The development of command centers is a proven method to overcome the workflow issue. 

Essentially, digital health command centers can address the lack of workflows for real-time and predictive data at the point of care delivery. These command centers provide a shared, singular place for health system leaders, units and teams to effectively direct operations in a collaborative, informative, intelligent way. Command centers optimize shared visibility across health systems, which boosts optimized operations, leads to more strategic decision-making, and helps leaders boost staff allocation and satisfaction as well. Health systems are realizing the benefits of real-time, predictive data-driven operations as they transform existing systems and workflows into channels that support this new way of care delivery and operations management.

Delivering on the benefits of digital healthcare

The state of health information technology is saturated, overwhelming and confusing, and the broader concept of digital transformation can be frightening. However, it is important to remember that all the real-time, insightful, actionable data that advanced solutions use and that health systems need to become proactive, data-driven entities are already within the current operations systems being used, it just needs to be better accessed and used. By leveraging advanced technologies and operational processes centered around intelligent automation and artificial intelligence, leaders are replacing outdated performance reports with real-time insights and decision-making. 

While there are challenges for health systems to embrace data-driven operations, innovation is making it easier to overcome them. Healthcare has only just scratched the surface of the benefits from digitization but there is much that still needs to be done before it can reach its full potential. It starts and ends with intelligent operations and real-time data analytics, and it’s more within reach than ever

About Nate Kelly:

As the Chief Commercial Officer, Nate draws on more than 17 years of experience in healthcare operations to lead the sales, sales operations, business development, and clinical solutions teams. Most recently, Nate was the Vice President and General Manager of Cerner’s Health Networks, where he was responsible for large-scale growth and client alignment and satisfaction. Prior to that, he was the General Manager of Health Operations at Cerner, responsible for product management, development, and go-to-market of Cerner’s capacity management, RTLS, and workforce management products. Nate has a strong understanding of Hospital IQ’s products and value and an entrepreneurial spirit that will drive continued growth.

Nate earned his MBA from the Crosby MBA program at the University of Missouri Trulaske College of Business, his BS from the University of Minnesota and is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.