Hospitals are always looking for ways to improve patient care. This can be challenging because hospitals have to deal with cost constraints, personnel issues, and patients’ high expectations. Here are some ways that hospitals are working to improve in the area of patient care.
Using Healthcare Analytics
Hospitals and other healthcare providers have the ability to collect a great deal of data on many aspects of patient care, medical costs, results of procedures and medications, time spent on procedures, staffing levels and much more. Healthcare analytics is the process of analyzing this data to discover trends and figure out ways to improve. Healthcare analytics is a complex field, and its capabilities are constantly expanding. Some of the areas that healthcare analytics can make better are improving wait times for patients, process improvements regarding making appointments and dealing with insurance, reducing readmission rates, and developing better and more personalized treatments for patients.
Providing Care Outside of the Hospital
Sometimes it is better not to have to admit a patient to the hospital at all. Hospitals are experimenting with other ways to care for patients. They are developing post-acute care programs outside of the hospital setting for patients who are not sick enough to need to be in the hospital. Many hospitals now have telehealth capabilities such as video visits with physicians and nurses, health apps for mobile phones and remote patient monitoring. Companies often have employee wellness programs that can deliver healthcare to their employees outside of the hospital, as well.
Using PAs and NPs
Hospitals are increasingly using physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) to deliver care that was formerly only performed by physicians. PAs and NPs are being given greater autonomy to make decisions regarding patients in their care. This helps hospitals that are having difficulty finding qualified physicians due to an increased physician shortage in parts of the country.
Creating Standards of Care
Standardizing care in a hospital means that standards are developed for the best practices for procedures to be performed for various conditions. Instead of each physician creating a completely personalized course of treatment, the physicians follow standard protocols developed ahead of time. This saves time and money while improving patient care. By using best practices developed by all the physicians in that speciality, the more senior physicians’ greater experience is utilized by all. This should result in improved patient care and better outcomes.
Companies often set goals for their employees, for individual departments and for the whole company. Hospitals can also set goals for employees, floors in the hospital, departments and the entire hospital. Goals are often determined by the results of surveys sent to patients. Surveys help the hospital determine what issues are important to patients and what goals are not being met. Once the goals are defined, hospital staff will be able to work toward those goals and create better results than if they didn’t have goals to shoot for.
Increasing Access to Care
Often, health conditions become worse and harder to treat when patients wait too long to seek care. Part of the solution may be to encourage people to see their physicians as soon as they have symptoms. But most of the problem is caused by a lack of insurance. People just can’t afford to visit the doctor without insurance coverage. The fragmented healthcare system is another cause for delays in seeking care. Hospitals are working to improve the healthcare sector by opening clinics that are more convenient and less costly than a hospital visit.
Another way that patients can have increased access to care is to have more medical staff. There is currently a nursing shortage, which means that it can take a long time for people to get the care they need. Thankfully, more programs are being introduced to ensure there are enough nurses, and the nurses that are already working have the most up to date information. One example of this is geriatric nurse practitioner programs which means more older people can be helped.
Hospitals are very interested in improving outcomes for patients in their care. They are experimenting with new ways to improve the care they give their patients. These efforts result in wins for both the hospitals and their patients.