The Perils of Pen and Paper: Improving Healthcare Operations Through Automation
Pivoting for Patients
The healthcare industry has been under extreme pressure with the pandemic, the great resignation, supply chain shortages and an increasing demand for services. All of these factors have forced organizations to pivot in order to continue to provide service to patients, keep employees satisfied and maintain control of rising costs as a result.
Adapting to Changing Times
During the pandemic, healthcare organizations quickly adapted to provide virtual consultations for non-emergency care, sought traveling clinicians to add resource, and increased spending in electronic health records and digital technologies to improve accuracy and streamline workflows.
The inherent risks of manual, paper-based processes are magnified in a healthcare setting – particularly when it comes to tracking equipment, supplies and other critical assets. Poor inventory management not only affects quality of care and employee safety, but also results in increased costs for the organization as a whole. And while many healthcare providers have been hit hard by the pandemic, there are many ongoing obstacles that need to be managed; this includes lost biological samples and stolen/hoarded drugs and supplies.
Onboard for Digital Systems
According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Trust Partnership in its 2021 Future of Healthcare Report, 47% of surveyed healthcare providers cited digital as a top organizational priority – does this mean 53% of respondents aren’t prioritizing digital? We know they are likely feeling the effects of manual processes, but are they making the connection between the efficiency of digital and the effect it can have on their overall operations?
The Perils of Pen & Paper
Paper-based processes are typically prone to errors. Human error associated with data entry and calculations take top billing when it comes to inaccuracies in day-to-day processes. In a healthcare environment, this can be detrimental (and deadly!) to both patient care and operating margins. Here are a few examples of the impact it can have on workflow processes:
- Short supply – Miscalculations, along with limited visibility of inventory and item location can cause stock outs and misplaced supplies, slowing down productivity.
- Increased spending – Manual tracking and putaway processes can cause inaccuracies that force management to spend more on equipment and supplies they already have – but are unable to locate.
- Equipment Failures – Paper-based maintenance records are easily lost, inaccurate or not managed at all. Unreliable information can lead to frustration and struggles when equipment does not operate properly.
- Limited Flexibility – Manual processes make it difficult for clinicians to access critical data and information. Without information at their fingertips, employees spend more time searching for items, and less time caring for patients.
Benefits of Digital Track and Trace Solutions
In a healthcare setting, accuracy and productivity are vital. Healthcare facilities that opt for digital systems are able to reduce the time it takes to track and manage equipment and supplies. Information is at their fingertips with the use of a mobile computing device (handheld computer, tablet, smartphone). Barcode scanning and RFID technologies allow users to easily track and locate items anywhere in their facility with ease. This takes the burden off employees and allows them to focus on their patients and duties. Benefits include:
- Improved Inventory Management
- Controlled Costs; Fewer Losses
- Higher Quality of Care for Patients
- Improved Safety for Employees
Inventory counts that typically take days with a manual system take just a few hours when performed with a digital solution. And items that are correctly located, maintained and accurately stocked are made available when needed, enabling clinicians to serve their patients effectively.
Greater visibility of data means management and clinicians can make informed decisions. This helps aid in controlling costs, time and resources. When an asset or items is moved from one location to another, the system is updated and the information is made available to personnel. This eliminates the guesswork and unnecessary spending associated with inaccurate data.
Most important, patient safety and care improve. Clinicians are properly equipped and informed regarding patient identity, needs and requirements.
Improving Operational Ability
Digital asset tracking and management is an ideal solution for managing inventory in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Scanning information digitally instead of recording it on paper dramatically improves inventory accuracy, and provides item-level visibility across the enterprise. Authorized users can track supplies and equipment on their mobile devices, and receive alerts when an item is almost out of stock – or when an item isn’t where it should be.
For more information on solutions Barcom provides to help improve operational efficiencies in healthcare settings, please contact us.
4136B Jersey Pike, Chattanooga, TN 37421
Phone (423) 855-1822 | Fax (423) 499-6317