Written by SmartSense | Patient Safety, Healthcare
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March 6, 2023
Written by SmartSense | Patient Safety, Healthcare
Improving patient safety and satisfaction are important key performance indicators (KPIs) for hospitals and healthcare organizations. One proven method to help achieve these KPIs is to implement an Internet of Things (IoT) Sensing-as-a-Service. Sensing-as-a-Service integrates multiple sensors with machine learning to analyze large datasets, deliver digital task management, and streamline complex compliance procedures into prescriptive workflows.
To overcome any challenges to employee adoption, a Sensing-as-a-Service platform sifts through raw data to focus only on relevant metrics, interprets their meaning for staff providers, and simplifies them into actionable insights that drive optimal decision-making. For healthcare providers still using manual data management processes, eliminating obstacles to potential efficiencies is close to impossible.
It is critical, therefore, to adopt Sensing-as-a-Service with AI-enabled digital decision-making and task management capabilities. With the right solution in place, healthcare organizations can follow an effective roadmap for transforming data into action that mitigates operational risk, streamlines human workflows, and improves patient outcomes.
Operational risk management (ORM) is a critical component to the success of any healthcare organization. When executed correctly, ORM reduces risks associated with failed internal systems that result in product loss. Hospitals, for instance, must adhere to rigorous maintenance schedules for thousands of medical devices, such as vaccine storage freezers, MRI machines, defibrillators, and IV pumps.
Failing to observe these protocols could lead to a major equipment breakdown resulting in expensive repair costs, prolonged operational downtime or, in a worst-case scenario, negative patient outcomes. IoT Sensing-as-a-Service mitigates this risk by digitalizing task management for the hospital’s equipment repair team. With physical IoT sensors attached to each device, the solution generates continuous feedback loops about their functional status.
So, for example, if a vaccine storage container unexpectedly fails to maintain its optimal temperature, the sensor sends that information to a digital dashboard alerting maintenance workers in real time with guidance to alleviate the issue before vaccine efficacy is compromised. The system also notifies staff about simple routine assessments and then confirms their completion, which helps avoid mishaps caused by human error – such as forgotten tasks or miscommunication among employees.
Operational risk management can help ensure that the efficacy of medicines and vaccines is maximized. For example, when COVID-19 vaccines first launched, they had to be stored at -72° F; any excursions would violate compliance regulations, reducing capacity and thereby compromising timely administration. If the temperature of a COVID vaccine reached 0° F for a few hours—providers could not know for sure if the medical value of the vaccine actually had been reduced to nothing but a placebo.
The benefits of Sensing-as-a-Service go beyond temperature: humidity, oxygen levels, and positioning are equally important to vaccine safety. With remote, continuous, automated monitoring, providers can feel confident that all products are in compliance 24/7.
Combining digital decision-making and task management with real-time asset traceability, Sensing-as-a-Service effectively streamlines human workflows. Healthcare providers can focus more on patients by coordinating point-of-care logistics without the need to check asset compliance every day.
Envision a physician at a pediatric hospital responsible for monitoring high volumes of mother’s milk. Rather than wasting two hours of employee labor required to manually monitor each asset, an IoT-enabled solution connected to a physical sensor placed inside each refrigerator automates the reporting process and safety requirements. The physician can therefore shift more hours to patient-facing tasks that have a direct impact on care quality.
For both front-line workers and C-suite executives—the latter of whom spend as much as 70% of their time making decisions—there’s a growing need for prescriptive “easy buttons” to help them save time. A system that generates endless reports filled with data that must be interpreted neither reduces their burden nor frees up hours to attend to patients.
In the past, employees were trained in the classroom and expected to refresh their knowledge using SOPs or reports. Today, however, both training and task management should be available on demand, including real-time prescriptive actions that tell employees what to do next.
So what are the KPIs of streamlining human workflows? In a nutshell: better collaboration, employee satisfaction. and reduced attrition. And most important, improved patient satisfaction and maximized patient outcomes.
Every day, health care providers make life-and-death decisions. According to the World Health Organization, the occurrence of adverse events stemming from unsafe care is likely one of the 10 leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Yet in an Accenture survey, nearly 50% of providers admitted to following their gut instinct as opposed to relying on data-driven insights.
In an increasingly complex healthcare environment, instinct is no guarantee of patient outcomes and satisfaction. In fact, survey data reveals that the demand for improving the patient experience has not been satisfactorily met in both urban and rural regions. As evidence of this situation, rural primary care professionals recently ranked quality as a greater concern than access to care in their communities.
Without the right tools, healthcare employees lack the support they need to deliver patient care at the level required for continuous improvement. Sensing-as-a-Service provides the framework necessary to maintain and improve patient outcomes, whether treating traumatic injuries and conducting remote cancer screenings or monitoring medical device performance and confirming HIPAA compliance.
While no technology can replace the expertise and nuance of healthcare professionals, IoT Sensing-as-a-Service can significantly improve decision-making in healthcare operations, increase capacity to direct labor toward improved patient care, and thus optimize patient outcomes overall. When prescriptive actions and digital workflow management are combined with real-time data, compliance is better supported, while vaccines, medicines, lab samples, and other critical inventory items are better protected.
According to IDC’s Future of Industry Ecosystems Report, IoT devices are expected to generate more than 73 billion terabytes of healthcare data by 2025 – that means a global market share exceeding $543 billion. With the rate of digital adoption across healthcare showing no signs of slowing down, it’s vital for organizations to invest in Sensing-as-a-Service architectures that maximize the value of their data insights.
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