Health care staff are fundamental to high-quality patient care and, during the pandemic, they have gone above and beyond their call of duty to care for the sick. But just as we need them the most, as hospitals and doctors work to contain new strains of the virus and the anticipated holiday surge, there is a shortage of nurses and other healthcare workers.
Medical workers are retiring, opting for early retirement, or dropping out of healthcare to pursue different career paths. And the shortage is expected to get worse before it gets better. We know that a significant segment of the workforce is nearing retirement, while enrollment in nursing and other training programs is dwindling. It’s also expected to have a cyclical affect; as the medical workforce gets smaller and smaller, they are also spread thinner and more likely to be overworked, which can lead to even more personnel getting burnout and quitting.
Related article: 6 Ways to Support Staff & Prevent Burnout.
5 High-Tech Ways to Augument Healthcare Staff
With all of these factors combined, it’s clear that the labor shortage in healthcare isn’t going away anytime soon. So, administrators and managers are looking for ways to support their current staff and make activities more efficient. And this is where the power of technology can really make a difference.
Let’s look at some of the high-tech solutions that can help medical practices and hospitals alike to survive the labor shortage crunch.
Medical staff are currently drowning in paperwork. Although documentation is a necessary part of healthcare, it’s not the best use of time for busy practitioners who should be focusing on treating patients. Voice detection and transcription can speed up the process of completing charts and updating electronic patient records.
Transcription technology, in general, has come a long way; now, the average voice recognition app boasts a 75 – 85% accuracy rate. Plus, AI developers like Suki, Nuance, and Ubiqus have created apps specifically for the healthcare industry. The goal is to leverage automated speech-to-text technology so that healthcare professionals can spend less time on administrative tasks and routine communication.
Similarly, voice-controlled devices are being implemented more and more into the healthcare setting. These hands-free devices make it possible to Plus, they can quickly be deployed at scale for large medical offices, clinics and hospitals. Using drop-in features, especially when combined with a two-way video monitor, practitioners can check up on patients from their office or nurses’ station.
When staff is limited and time is valuable, this can be a huge help for healthcare providers. Patients can make requests and request information directly through Alexa or Google Home Assistant, saving staffers a trip to each individual room when help is requested. It also decreases in-person interactions with potentially contagious patients and save on the amount of PPE consumed in a day. At the same time, this remote channel of communications helps patients feel better connected with care providers and more informed about their treatment plan.
Queue Management Systems
When staff is stretched thin, getting patients in and out of the doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital at an efficient rate becomes even more difficult. It doesn’t take much for the waiting room to start filling up, making the work environment even more stressful for healthcare professionals and admin.
Appointment scheduling and queueing technology work to decrease patient wait times and keep appointments running on time. It uses machine learning to predict high-traffic times and real-time data from both staff and patients to optimize everyone’s time. For example, patients are notified automatically when appointments are behind schedule or they can push their appointment back when they are running late, making room for other activities. Software developers like QLess, Qmatic, and Qminder have created solutions with healthcare workflows and patient scheduling in mind.
Telemedicine can help to ease the burden on medical staff by enable patients to be diagnosed and get checkups for long-term care remotely. This technology not only reduces the number of patients in the waiting room, but it also reduces the average appointment time, allowing physicians and nurses to see more patients in the same time period. It’s also a cost-effective solution:
“According to a recent study, doctors who used a telemedicine platform for cardiology consultations saved around $500 in Medicaid costs for every patient treated over a six-month period.”– QLess
This agile solution has made it possible for countless practitioners to work from home or anywhere they have Internet access. Plus, it allows ambulatory staff members to coordinate medical information with specialists in other locations, which can help to provide the best possible care for patients.
Related article: What to Look for When Selecting a Telehealth Provider.
Portable Patient Monitoring Devices
Portable monitors are being used in the hospital setting to monitor patients while they are on the go. These portable continuous monitoring devices, can be easily moved from patient to patient and let nurses and doctors keep track of vital signs like ECG, respiratory rates, and oxygen saturation levels. This critical data is captured and sent back to a central monitor and the integrated EMR system, and caregivers are alerted directly if the vital signs indicate an emergency.
Why Health Care Needs to Adopt More Technology?
Other benefits of health care technology that simplifies administrative work include:
- Lower costs,
- Increased precision in care,
- Better share of reimbursement and revenue for the practice,
- Reduced paperwork,
- Decrease wait times,
- Targeted population health,
- Higher patient satisfaction.
Related article: What Is a Smart Hospital?
Augment Your Staff with PatientCalls
With full EMR integration and HIPAA compliance for data security and patient privacy, PatientCalls is the leading medical answering service in the United States. We continue to support physicians’ offices and medical clinics to operate at full capacity despite the staffing challenges. Medical answering services are a cost-effective solution to labor shortages and an easy way to lighten the workload for vital administrative staff.