Hospitals eye a more connected caregiver experience

High-tech care delivery is coming—as soon as hospitals get more budget and stronger buy-in

by AT&T Business Editorial Team

Healthcare organizations are eager to use digital technology to modernize care delivery, according to a new report of industry leaders from HIMSS Media and AT&T. However, their efforts are hindered by a lack of resources, privacy concerns, and buy-in from care teams who must integrate the chosen solutions into their workflows.

The report, The Connected Caregiver: How Technology Is Enhancing the Caregiver Experience, is the third in a three-part series. It is based on a survey conducted in November by HIMSS Media on behalf of AT&T to better understand how healthcare organizations are digitally transforming so they can drive a more connected caregiver experience.

Past surveys took a similar approach to gauging support for the on-site patient experience and telehealth.

The mix of decision makers and organization sizes for the Connected Caregivers survey differed slightly from past surveys.

  • 47% were in clinical roles
  • 30% were business leaders
  • 23% represented IT
  • Nearly 60% worked in hospitals with 500 or more beds

The findings from this most recent survey show that:

1. There has been some technological progress to advance the caregiver experience, but most organizations are still in the early stages of their digital transformations.

  • 65% have made some headway on digital transformation initiatives (like advancing telehealth and enhancing the on-site patient experience)
  • Only 6%, though, have fully executed their digital strategy, which is consistent with other surveys
  • The remaining 34% are still in the planning stages (slightly more than initiatives tied to telehealth and the patient experience)
  • Only 1% have no plans

2. Hospitals are deploying a variety of secure telecommunications and digital technologies to advance a connected caregiver experience. Among the most popular solutions in use or being piloted are:

  • Single, integrated electronic health records (68%)
  • Teleconferences with other caregivers (63%)
  • Teleconferences with patients (62%)
  • Mobile devices for virtually seamless access to patient data (62%)
  • Ubiquitous, highly reliable wireless connectivity (59%)
  • Wireless bedside telemetry (55%)

3. Voice recognition, big data, and sensors/IoT are currently seen as the biggest enablers to assist caregivers.

  • 44% are actively researching or planning to use natural language processing or voice recognition
  • 43% are researching or planning to invest in big data initiatives
  • 42% are researching/planning to implement IoT technologies for asset and inventory tracking/management
  • 39% are researching or planning to use RFID-type badges to optimize workflows
  • 38% are leveraging AI and machine learning for clinical decision support

4. The key drivers behind connected caregiver initiatives include raising the quality of patient care, achieving better outcomes, and improving care coordination. Most respondents say they are seeing early successes, too.

  • 68% are motivated to improve the quality of patient care
  • 54% want to see better clinical outcomes
  • 54% want improved clinical communication and care coordination
  • 42% hope for reduced readmission rates
  • 40% expect to enable real-time clinical information sharing

5. Limited budgets, privacy concerns, and clinical resistance are the biggest barriers to leveraging technology investments to advance a connected caregiver experience. IT decision-makers were roughly 1.5 times more likely to cite clinician resistance and lack of in-house resources as major obstacles to adoption. Lack of budget was a major issue for most facilities under 500 beds.

  • 53% cite lack of budget to invest in new technology
  • 47% are concerned with privacy and security implications
  • 43% report clinical resistance a major issue

Commit to connecting your caregivers

It’s clear that healthcare organizations should be looking to allocate bigger budgets for transformative technologies. They should also be doing more to convince caregivers to use new solutions that will benefit them and their patients. Additionally, organizations must find solutions that are highly secure to protect patient data. The ultimate success of their overall digital transformations may depend on how well they overcome these obstacles.