The American healthcare industry has been struggling under the weight of environmental trends, including an aging population that needs chronic care and requires more clinician collaboration than we have ever seen before. Shortages of physicians and nurses are projected, contributing to fatigue, burnout, and attrition. A growing number of clinicians today work across multiple locations and treat increasing numbers of patients outside of hospital settings. Add to the mix the steady growth in acquisitions of smaller health systems by larger health systems. These trends are driving the increase in mobile clinical communication plaEach of these trends adds to the complexity of an already burdened healthcare industry.
The emergence and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has exploded across the United States—and the world—pushing healthcare delivery past its breaking point and fueling a desperate search for the tools needed for delivery of patient care in a time of crisis. An already fragile industry weighed down by many environmental trends struggles not only to provide adequate care but also to safeguard its frontline workers’ health.
The Financial Impact of COVID-19 is Devastating to Healthcare Delivery.
The cost of the COVID-19 pandemic has been catastrophic for the health industry. Hospital and health system revenues have declined sharply due to the pandemic, while the costs of providing specialized care to the novel coronavirus patients are increasing. Estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation suggest that treating a patient with COVID-19 could be more than $20,000 and over $88,000 for patients requiring ventilator support. These projections do not consider the costs of providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to nurses and doctors or the escalating costs for the medicines and specialized equipment needed to treat COVID-19 patients.
According to the American Hospital Association, “the nation’s hospitals and health systems will collectively lose $36.6 billion, including payments for COVID–19 patients, from March to June 2020 treating COVID–19 patients alone.” Add to that, the faltering economy and loss of health insurance due to record-breaking unemployment numbers also affecting the industry.
COVID19 is also impacting ambulatory care facilities and nursing homes. For many ambulatory care facilities and outpatient clinics, pauses in elective surgeries, shelter-at-home mandates, and concerns about exposure to the virus have cut deeply into revenue. Nursing homes across the country have been forced to quarantine and operate under lockdown with limited staffing. In all cases, budgets and staff are stretched, making any ability to reduce cost and simplify processes essential.
As healthcare systems prepare for a second wave of the virus and face surges of new hospitalizations, the search for robust technology solutions to streamline communication and scheduling is essential. Tools that provide urgent real-time patient updates and test results can accelerate patient care, improve clinician efficiency, and ultimately strengthen financial performance.
COVID-19 fuels increased acceptance of mobile device usage in healthcare.
The world has gone mobile. According to a recent study by Kantar Media, four out of five physicians use their smartphones at work. Bedside nurse usage of mobile devices is projected to grow to 97 percent by 2022, up from 65 percent in 2017, according to the Future of Healthcare 2022 Hospital Vision Study published by Zebra Technologies.
The use of mobile electronic platforms in the healthcare industry extends to its patients as well. Most major hospitals offer smartphone apps and eHealth patient portals to increase patient engagement and encourage people to participate actively in their medical care. Accenture reports that two-thirds of the largest U.S. hospitals provide mobile apps for patients.
The pandemic is helping ease earlier restrictions on mobile device usage as healthcare embraces new technological solutions built on mobile platforms. And it makes sense. Mobile digital tools that are easy to use, quick to set up, and fall within increasingly tight budget guidelines have incredible value. And, while these innovations are essential to managing care during the pandemic, the acceptance of new levels of mobile and digital technology will benefit the healthcare industry for years to come.
Streamlined clinical communications are vital in the pandemic.
The importance of streamlining clinical communications cannot be overstated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The negative financial impact of inefficient clinical communication has been well documented. U.S. Hospitals waste more than $12 billion annually as a result of communication inefficiencies, according to the study Quantifying the Economic Impact of Communication Inefficiencies in U.S. Hospitals. These estimates are conservative because they do not factor in all the dimensions of economic waste arriving from poor communication in healthcare settings.
Mobile technological solutions help simplify clinical collaboration and unify disparate communication technologies, reducing cost, and the potential for inefficiencies. Perhaps more important during the pandemic, patient health may suffer if communication between clinicians is impacted by missed messaging, slow delivery, or scheduling confusion issues.
Mobile clinical communication platforms (CCPs) provide critical cost efficiencies.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, streamlining communications across a broad range of clinical settings is vital to containing the spread of the disease and providing accelerated healthcare to patients suffering from its devastating impact. For physicians and nurses on the front lines of patient care, access to patient records, test results, and imaging is essential.
Mobile clinical communications platforms (CCPs) help accelerate the delivery of this critical information. Cloud-based clinical communication platforms can connect teams and individuals immediately and allow the sharing of updated results from electronic health records (EHRs). Clinicians also have access to real-time scheduling functionality and secure HIPAA-compliant texting, all of which help them provide streamlined patient care to a growing number of COVID patients.
How are Cost Efficiencies Realized?
Cost efficiencies are realized in multiple ways. Using a single unified clinical communication platform (CCP) allows healthcare organizations to eliminate outdated equipment and redundant software such as pagers, legacy telephone systems, specialty on-call schedule apps, and software specifically for VoIP calls. A robust clinical communication platform with embedded scheduling and EHR integration can significantly reduce the time clinicians spend coordinating and updating schedule changes, tracking down on-call physicians, verifying room availabilities, and waiting on test results and pharmacy orders.
A cloud-based mobile CCP offers healthcare organizations the best of all worlds. It is easily and quickly set up (often virtually), takes advantage of the mobile devices clinicians are already working with, and requires little maintenance from the organization’s IT department. Cost savings can come from reduced hardware, implementation, and ongoing maintenance – delivering low total cost ownership.
Cloud-Based Mobile CCP Halo Platform Streamlines Clinical Communications
The Halo Platform by Halo Health is a mobile clinical collaboration platform that reduces costs, streamlines clinical communications, and helps accelerate patient care by improving time-sensitive clinical workflows. Halo enables healthcare systems, ambulatory facilities, and nursing homes to reduce costs by consolidating legacy and redundant technology and devices into one cohesive system-wide platform.
Halo’s workflow management system operates like a brain that controls all communication channels in a healthcare system. Its native, real-time, role-based on-call scheduling ensures that the right communication gets to the right person, roles, and teams at the right time.
Halo’s clinical collaboration platform is built to handle the most complex enterprise-wide health system deployments, including many that exceed 20,000 users. It connects all clinicians throughout the health system and its surrounding community.
Halo is powered by Amazon’s AWS Cloud, with redundant cloud-based backup. The HIPAA-compliant Halo Platform is highly scalable, secure, and reliable. It works with the smartphones and mobile devices that clinicians already use and offers easy-to-use and feature-rich messaging.
Halo’s native platform design and open architecture, combined with AWS Cloud hosting, ensure reliability, security, interoperability, and scalability for hospitals, ambulatory settings, and nursing care facilities. Since its launch a decade ago, the Halo Platform has been continuously enhanced with input from physicians and nurses and is easy to configure, use, and update.
Halo has a vital impact on accelerated patient care delivery.
Especially valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic, Halo helps accelerate patient care delivery by closing gaps in EHR, scheduling, and other clinical communication workflows by instantly connecting to the right clinicians and support staff with the correct information. It delivers instant critical results via mobile devices and improves response times of critical care team mobilization for STEMI, Code Blue, Stroke, and Sepsis conditions.
Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, shortages of physicians and nurses had been projected. Current staffing levels are strained by COVID response. Technical solutions, like Halo, provide value in lessening clinician burnout by reducing alert and information fatigue and ensuring consistent, seamless, and standardized work experience across roles, teams, and sites. Halo eliminates the time spent searching for on-call physicians and coordinating consults, as well as interruptions to off-duty physicians.
Halo improves financial outcomes.
Halo’s impact on cost is substantial. It saves healthcare organizations both costs and time through the consolidation of technology and reduction of maintenance costs. It replaces inefficient, disparate scheduling processes and systems that do not provide real-time coverage changes. Halo also helps organizations realize cost savings through vendor consolidation, eliminating the need for limited point solutions such as pagers, VoIP systems, and other less robust clinical communications systems. Last but not least, Halo exists to maximize the efficiency of time-sensitive clinical workflows such as patient throughput, alert and critical result delivery, critical team activation, and requests for physician referral and consult, just to name a few. All of these inherent workflow improvements help contain costs for healthcare’s most challenging conditions, including sepsis and infection control, chronic care, emergency care (i.e. STEMI), and much more.
Best practices for managing care during COVID-19 are being developed and rolled out as quickly as possible. To survive a surge and prepare for the next wave of the virus, healthcare systems are working to ensure clinicians have access to mobile technology that streamlines communications. In response to the nationwide crisis, acceptance of mobile devices and related clinical applications continues to grow. Mobile clinical communication platforms offer essential benefits and cost reductions for organizations struggling to meet the challenges of healthcare, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Thanks for stopping by. Learn more about Clinical Collaboration Platforms and ROI in our white paper: “COVID-19: Making the Case for a Mission-Critical Communication Platform,” to learn how Halo Health’s mobile clinical collaboration platform accelerates and reduces the cost of care, during COVID-19 and beyond.