For better or worse, technology is playing an increasingly larger role in everyday life. This is especially true in the healthcare field where technology advancements are helping change and enhance how patients interact with clinicians, hospitals and their own health information.
While these advancements can be exciting, hospitals often have limited resources to evaluate and integrate emerging technologies – a task that generally falls on in-house experts on the healthcare technology management (HTM) team. When there isn’t enough time to evaluate new tech, it can affect caregiver and patient satisfaction – not to mention the satisfaction of the technicians within the clinical engineering department.
The problem is that a job in the HTM department can be taxing, with many technicians nearing or reaching max capacity. In fact, a recent survey found that 60% of technicians characterized their workload as “heavy” or “excessive,” with respondents saying being short-staffed can make the job highly stressful. Technicians also reported that being able to work on emerging technologies was one of the main perks to working in HTM. In fact, without knowledge and expertise of advanced technologies, some speculated HTM professionals could face irrelevancy.
The question is: If HTM teams report the desire to work on emerging technologies while simultaneously reporting excessive workloads, when is there time to evaluate and integrate these new technologies – especially when these technologies are already shaping the patient experience?
Below, we took a look at three such technologies that are going to play a bigger role in the years to come for hospitals and their HTM teams to manage along with practical ways to give your HTM teams more time to spend on these strategic and new technologies.
With everything from electronic protected health information (ePHI) to technologically integrated medical devices to virtual care, data security is more important than ever in healthcare. Patients aren’t the only ones who want more access to their sensitive medical information – hackers do, too.
Unfortunately, the healthcare industry is more at risk for a data breach than other industries because there are an increased number of devices connected to web applications as well as the fact that most healthcare facilities use legacy systems that are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. In fact, reports show that the healthcare industry experiences more than double the number of cyber-attacks than other industries, averaging almost 32,000 intrusion attacks per day.
Hospitals know how important patient data is – not only to the facility, but to the patient and potential hackers as well. Keeping that information safe and secure should be a priority. Because of the heightened vulnerability, more and more organizations are budgeting to invest in advanced security technologies in order to better protect data transfers. That includes increased use of the cloud to store secure data with more effective and secure encryptions as well as incorporating blockchain technology into healthcare so consumers have more control over their data.
The healthcare industry has continued to find new ways to incorporate 3D technology as it has rapidly advanced in recent years. According to one report, the 3D printing healthcare market went from $579.0 million in 2014 to a projected $2.32 billion in 2020. Healthcare facilities of all types are using this technology to help their patients – from medical and surgical centers to pharma and biotech companies to academic institutions.
Patients are benefiting from the advancing 3D technology. For years, amputees have benefited from 3D technology with personalized prosthetics that are custom tailored to their specific needs. Many of these 3D-printed prosthetics are lightweight alternatives to traditionally mass-manufactured, factory-produced appendages.
Aside from prosthetics, 3D printing has even expanded to bioprinting technologies. 3D bioprinting adds the ability to produce living tissue, bone, blood vessels and, potentially, entire organs. While bioprinting is more complex than mainstream 3D printing, technological advancements are constantly being established. Some healthcare professionals are even looking further into the future, to when this technology could eventually end the need for human organ transplants.
For generations, wearable technology has been changing the way we think about health.
Did you know that the original design of the pedometer has been tracked to a sketch Leonardo Da Vinci made all the way back in 1472? For the record, the first pedometer wasn’t actually developed until 1780 by a Swiss watchmaker. Bet you didn’t think wearable technology was that old.
Modern-day wearable technology is more advanced than ever, allowing people to take a more involved and informed approach to their healthcare. With wearables becoming increasingly common, healthcare facilities are adjusting their care, treatment and therapy practices to incorporate the expanding breadth and depth of data that can be collected during and between patient visits.
This includes real-time health monitoring, in which wearables allow care providers to monitor patients remotely to help detect, observe and examine medical information to ensure both caregiver and patient have the most up-to-date care plans. This can be used not only to aid in uncovering ailments and assist in diagnoses, but it can also help reduce occurrences and complications with chronic health issues, such as asthma, chronic pain, diabetes and heart disease.
Wearable technology can be helpful not only for clinicians, but patients, too, and it’s typically a more cost-effective avenue for both the healthcare facility and patient alike. These technologies are not without their disadvantages, however. As with any connected healthcare device, wearables are not immune to data security issues. Similar to any other patient data, hospitals utilizing these devices should be cautious of how patient data is collected, used and stored.
What do All the Changes in Technology Mean for Your Hospital and How to Give Your Team More Time to Focus on These Items?
Incorporating new tech is great in theory, but do hospitals have enough time to evaluate and integrate? Introducing advanced technology and the accompanying strategic investments are typically based on the recommendations from the in-house experts. But with team members increasingly overwhelmed and stretched thin keeping up with lower-value tasks day in and day out (like searching for and repairing less sophisticated equipment), little time is left to evaluate emerging technologies.
When it comes down to it, delaying making important strategic investments in new technologies increases service costs, lowers team morale and, ultimately, hampers the patient experience.
There are only so many hours in a day and, for the healthcare technology management team, that can mean many of those hours are spent on day-to-day tasks, such as moveable medical equipment (MME) repair and vendor management. Leaders are increasingly searching for ways to lessen the burden on the low-value tasks their team members need to complete so more time can be spent on assessing emerging technology and growth strategies.
So, which strategies are clinical engineering leaders employing to get all these jobs done? We’ve put together an infographic that shares some quick-win action items your team can utilize, including:
- Eliminating equipment backlogs by supplementing your in-house staff with local, on-demand technicians
- Offloading your general biomed equipment so your team can focus on high-value work
- Alleviating administrative burden by consolidating service contracts
Ready to help your clinical engineering team deliver even greater value to your hospital? Give your HTM team the time they need to review and evaluate up-and-coming technologies. Contact a biomedical expert today to see how your facility can benefit from supplementing your in-house biomed team.