When asked to describe their most pressing challenges, nearly every technology and IT department has similar responses: too many outstanding projects, ever-present backlogs, ever-growing demands, relentless roll-outs of new technologies, not enough time to innovate and the complexity of everyone’s favorite buzzword: interoperability.
VITAS Healthcare’s recent successful roll-out of iPhones to thousands of hospice professionals who deliver home-based medical care across 14 states and the District of Columbia has brought me to a simple conclusion: IT and technology experts in healthcare must fundamentally change their thinking about innovation and that interoperability buzzword.
Healthcare companies that survive and win in this 24/7, digital-mobile environment will be those whose technology teams acknowledge two basic tenets:
1. You will never be less busy than you are today.
2. Your opportunity to innovate and improve is never going to be better than it is today.
I know that’s hard to swallow. The fact is that the demands on our teams are not decreasing; it’s time to accept it, stop moaning about it and get on with the show. As technologists, we must borrow and apply to healthcare the mobile-first game plans and tools that are already successfully deployed in retail, manufacturing supply- chain, financial service and other industries, from buying groceries on Amazon or depositing a check from a smartphone.
Award-winning technology makes an impact
In a project that has spanned nearly five years, the VITAS mobile technology initiative put iPhone 6+ smartphones and tablets into the hands of 8,000 VITAS clinicians. Clinicians now deliver mobile-supported hospice care, communications, orders and interactions to patients’ bedsides, whether in private homes, nursing or hospital facilities, or assisted living communities—quickly, securely, reliably. The initiative earned VITAS the 2018 Process Excellence Network Awards (PEX) for a technology-enabled process improvement project.
The goal of these personal mobile “workstations” was to reduce paperwork, speed admissions of patients into hospice care, and place our interdisciplinary hospice teams at patients’ bedsides quickly. The spillover impact has been “outsized.” VITAS has:
• Saved clinicians’ time. By replacing keystrokes with swipes and the power of touch-based systems, we eliminated an estimated 60–70 keystrokes from bedside interactions. Mobile workflow applications allow our clinicians to set the device down if required, making patient interactions about the patient, not the computer.
• Embraced mobile clinical systems that are 20 times easier to train, reducing orientation from 20+ hours to one hour. On their first day, VITAS nurses simply enter their login credentials into the company-provided iPhone, and the phone self-configures.