4 Ways Hospitals are Streamlining Their Operations
By The Altus Team
Published Oct 30, 2021
| Updated Nov 14, 2023
| 5 min read
Many components must work in harmony for a hospital to run at peak efficiency and effectiveness. With the focus on providing the best possible experience for staff and patients, hospitals have begun to find ways to improve the way they run. Keep reading as we explore four ways today’s hospitals are streamlining their operations.
1. Supply Chain Management Technologies
Inventory management is crucial for patient and staff safety as well as for streamlining operations within hospital systems. Supply chain management (SCM) can be an area where hospitals thrive, or it can be an area in which systems lose money and are slowed down. Many hospitals see the value in SCM and are implementing new technologies to better execute their inventory management processes.
SCM keeps hospitals supplied with all the products and services needed to care for their patients. Without effective and organized SCM, hospital systems become inefficient, lose money, and ultimately can’t as effectively serve their patients. In one survey among nursing staff, 85% of respondents report challenges documenting supplies. The same survey indicates that 65% of respondents say their hospital’s supply documentation system is too time-consuming.
In the past, supply chain management was organized on manual spreadsheets. Today, some systems still rely on documents like Excel or Sheets to manage inventory ordering, delivery, and usage. This results in over-ordering, product expiration, unexpected issues with out-of-stock supplies, and more. But SCM technology can change all of that.
Supply chain software streamlines the entire SCM process from start to finish. These technologies establish a system-wide database that creates a more accurate and efficient supply chain process. This saves time for providers and nursing staff on the front end with easy data entry and supply requests. These systems allow administrators to order supplies so there are never out-of-stock issues that result in on-demand shipping costs. SCM tech saves time and money, and it allows staff to spend their resources caring for patients.
2. Automating Repetitive Tasks
Like many other industries, the medical sector has suffered a shortage of workers. Nurse shortages are nothing new, but the pandemic and the economic aftermath have led to a more pronounced lack of medical staff to meet increasing healthcare needs here in the U.S. Anticipating a further decline in medical staff numbers as well as streamlining existing operations, some hospitals are working toward automating repetitive tasks.
In an industry where face-to-face patient care is the norm, it might be difficult to imagine how automation comes into play. But the reality of patient care requires hours of paperwork and documentation on the part of providers and nursing staff. It’s in this area where AI and automation can streamline hospital operations.
According to MedPage Today, for every hour spent providing patient care, doctors spend 2 hours typing, entering data, and completing paperwork. Even when face-to-face with the patient, providers are typing on their medical records carts to record patient data. But implementing automation technologies reduces that time and allows doctors and nurses to provide more focused and effective patient care.
Chatbots are increasingly popular automation services that help hospital systems streamline care and operations. Bots will never replace the care of a nurse or doctor, but they do help providers complete patient care more efficiently. Chatbots provide instant conversational responses and access to care for patients seeking medical attention or advice. In the hospital setting, chatbots serve a variety of functions:
1. Assess the patient's symptoms
2. Differentiate between diseases
3. Help with triaging to prioritize patient care
4. Collect follow-up care information from patients
When hospital systems utilize chatbots and other methods to automate these types of repetitive tasks, they promote better patient care and create a smoother flow of operations.
3. Utilizing Big Data Management Systems
Examining big data allows hospital administration to evaluate every aspect of how the system runs. Management gains an accurate view of resource allocation and how to better streamline operations.
Data can be used to overview schedules, evaluate time spent on specific patient care tasks, compile medical supply ordering trends, and even manage hospital capacity. Management systems give a bird’s-eye view of how the staff is scheduled and being used across the hospital. This can unearth inefficient scheduling that results in overstaffing or understaffing. Organized data reveals where a system is excelling as well as areas that need restructuring or reorganization.
Collecting data across hospital systems is crucial. But if that data can’t be interpreted and understood in helpful ways, there’s no point. Data management systems take that data and organize it in a readable way that empowers administration to make changes that benefit providers, staff, and patients.
Data collection impacts public health, not only individual hospital systems. Monitoring and analyzing patient data across systems provide insight for doctors and researchers studying diseases like COVID-19. Data collection and management have shed light on how COVID affects different demographics and is used to notify individuals at risk for sickness.
When hospital systems utilize modern data management systems, administration can make decisions that benefit the hospital, the provider, and the patient.
4. Providing Safe and Efficient Equipment
Nurses and providers spend a significant portion of their day inputting patient data. Whether at a patient’s bedside or in a common workspace, doctors and nurses are responsible for recording medications, treatments, and plans that contribute to a patient’s healing and health. Because of that, hospitals should provide safe and effective equipment for data entry to take place.
Hospital systems are turning to companies like Altus to provide ergonomically designed workstations for their staff. Portable medical carts designed for nursing staff prevent musculoskeletal disorders, increase accurate data entry, and create a healthier and more enjoyable work environment. All these factors combined contribute to a better patient experience and streamlined operations within hospitals and hospital systems.
In an age where providers and nursing staff are under more pressure and in higher demand than ever, utilizing resources to streamline hospital operations isn’t simply a convenience; it’s a necessity. Increasing efficiency starts with the staff. By working with Altus to provide safe, comfortable equipment, hospitals can take steps toward a more effective and efficient environment that results in better outcomes for patients and staff alike. Contact us to learn more about our safe and effective equipment.