Jul 28 2023
Patient-Centered Care

Focus on Integrated Clinical Automation Platforms to Mitigate Nurse Burnout

Clinical automation solutions can create workflow efficiencies and improve patient care when implemented with interoperability and the future in mind.

Economic headwinds, burnout from the pandemic and other factors such as documentation burden have led to decreased job satisfaction and staff shortages at many health systems. The ongoing challenges in today’s workforce landscape are leading some organizations to consider clinical automation.

Clinical automation comes in many forms and can improve clinical workflow efficiencies and patient care. The more organizations automate collecting data about patients’ health, the better chance they have to make good decisions when providing care.

However, when implementing automated solutions, it’s crucial that the technology have a positive effect on clinician experiences rather than bogging them down with something new to learn. The best way to ensure success is to identify a problem that’s important to clinicians and then deploy a solution and strategy that can be integrated with other technologies in the clinical workflow.

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Clinical Automation and Patient Room ‘Next’ Improve Care Delivery

Patient Room ‘Next’ is a strategy that supports clinicians by automating patient care. It explores the next iteration of technology for patient care in five categories: machine vision, machine audio, content interaction with patients, sensors and telehealth. The solutions come together to provide real-time insight into a patient’s current health status and vitals in a more touchless way.

Using this strategy, sensors and cameras can monitor patients for changes. These technologies are integrated into one platform that can then notify a physician or nurse, rather than a clinician having to deal with multiple alerts from different sources. By consolidating alerts into one location, a clinician has a clearer picture of a patient’s health and, as a result, the platform augments clinical decision-making.

Under this strategy, the patient room can refer to anywhere care is delivered, which extends the continuum of care beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar healthcare visit. The “next” part of the strategy refers to what’s next in patient care. As technology advances, there will be further iterations of Patient Room ‘Next’ to improve clinical efficiencies and patient care and experiences. We’re continuing to look to the future while working to solve today’s problems.

Overcoming Challenges to Clinical Automation Implementation

Implementation challenges aren’t usually related to a technology problem but instead a cultural or financial problem. In some cases, healthcare organizations have given nurses and doctors so many solutions to improve their workflow that they end up doing more harm than good. As a result, clinicians often don’t want to have to learn another technology. How do we get them to see that what we’re trying to do really is good for them and their workflow?

The idea that one set of technology and one platform can handle several tasks and continue to evolve over time to meet future needs is foreign to a lot of organizations that are used to point solutions. However, with Patient Room ‘Next’ and its variety of solutions, health IT and clinical leaders can continue to build on the platform. That’s why health IT leaders should choose platforms rather than single-point solutions.

Clinicians aren’t conditioned to think about solving future problems one or two years out. They’re used to trying to solve the problem in front of them. Patient Room ‘Next’ focuses on taking care of multiple problems at once in as few steps as possible. It requires someone to sit back and think about these problems from a big-picture perspective. A culture change may be needed to create that mindset.

READ MORE: Learn how health systems are updating patient rooms to improve experiences.

A lot of people focus on innovation, but it should really be transformation. It’s important to bring in the technology that’s there, change some processes and workflows, and transform the way healthcare is being done today, rather than pushing innovative technologies that may not transform workflows and care in the way an organization wants.

When assessing which problem to focus on, choose the one that clinicians and executives can support and that will garner financial backing. Everyone will be happier if they all easily recognize the problem and know how to fix it, and you won’t have to sell the platform solution. You want to choose a platform that can do more than what you bought it to do.

Implementing several point solutions can impede interoperability and create workflow inefficiencies. Having one platform sets the organization up for success in achieving interoperability. Remember that everything still needs to connect back to the electronic health record. Clinical automation changes how data is collected. Ensuring that the platform moves the data where it needs to go without any duplication is critical, or you risk creating additional workflow problems. With a Patient Room ‘Next’ strategy and a single platform, interoperability and integration among all of the technology solutions used becomes easier, but it still needs to be considered from the outset.

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Measuring the Success of Clinical Automation Initiatives

Health IT leaders should ensure that new technology implemented to solve a specific problem is working successfully by identifying KPIs and monitoring how they change over time. To do that, an organization needs baseline data to measure against.

For example, healthcare leaders can use the Patient Room ‘Next’ strategy to target falls and measure how the fall rate changes after implementing sensors, artificial intelligence and other clinical automation solutions.

However, many healthcare organizations don’t have the data necessary to create a baseline for their specific use case. In that case, they can measure satisfaction and impact on the workflow. Can nurses help more patients because automation is taking some documentation or errands off their plates? Other softer measures include whether nurses and doctors are satisfied, how they feel about their work-life balance or even retention rate.

WATCH: Learn more about how clinical automation offers relief amid staff shortages.

Partnership Boosts Clinical Automation Implementation

Clinical automation involves technology solutions, and turning to an IT partner can ensure that the implementation is set up for success. At CDW, we talk to our customers to identify common problems and then we find solutions. We’ve spent a lot of time looking at solutions and vetting them down to a handful that we think will solve real problems.

In addition, we are integrators. We can handle the installation, services, logistics and anything else required to get those clinical automation solutions up and running. While shifting your workplace culture to be accepting of new technologies may be up to the healthcare leadership, CDW can handle all the other parts of the process. We ensure the technology implementation isn’t as much of a burden as it may feel in the beginning of a project.

The Future of Clinical Automation Involves More Workflow Efficiencies

As clinical automation advances, it will lead to completely automated documentation. Providers will be able to document everything going on with the patient, whether that’s pulled from the spoken word, written notes or sensors.

Patient Room ‘Next’ is about being touchless. The goal is to ensure that as technology advances and is integrated with the concept, the sensors used won’t be intrusive to patients. The more data we can collect from touchless sensors, the closer we’ll be to building predictive models that will alert clinicians when a patient’s health or vitals are likely to worsen. That will allow a doctor or nurse to intervene before something serious happens.

Clinical automation will give providers more insight into a patient’s condition and allow them to deliver preventive care quickly and effectively.

This article is part of HealthTech’s MonITor blog series.


Getty Images (digital composite): Stígur Már Karlsson/Heimsmyndir (patient left), gahsoon (patient), ipopba (doctor)

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