While we have done a lot of in depth coverage of Hospital EHR systems, we haven’t spent nearly enough time on many of the other IT systems that make a hospital a success. I actually think this is true across most of the health IT industry media outlets. The $36 billion of government handouts might have had an influence on this, but it’s unfortunate. While many are distracted by the EHR incentive money, a lot of other beneficial hospital IT systems are getting left behind.
One of those non-EHR software that should be considered by a hospital is an end-to-end patient flow system. When done right, a quality patient flow system can increase patient satisfaction, improve the quality of care, and make a hospital more efficient. All of these are worthy goals for hospitals of all sizes.
Let’s take a few minutes to look at some of the important features that I believe should be incorporated in a hospital patient flow system.
End-to-End – If you’re going to implement a patient flow system, then you’re going to need a system that handles the entire patient flow. Yes, that means it should handle: transport, admitting/transfer, bed management, and discharge. As most of you know, I generally lean towards implementing best of breed software in hospitals as opposed to the all in one software behemoth. You should not follow this best of breed strategy with your patient flow system. If you want something that will kill patient flow, try to integrate multiple systems. Then, sit back and watch the finger pointing. An end-to-end system will avoid these issues, and will be key to a successful patient flow software implementation.
Customizable to Hospital Workflow – This seems like an obvious feature that you’d look for in a patient flow system. Every hospital I’ve seen has unique patient flows all over the place. However, I don’t believe most hospitals spend enough time evaluating how all of these unique patient flows will work with the patient flow system they’re evaluating. Yes, this requires early involvement from clinical staff across the continuum of care, but the benefits of involving staff early will pay off in selecting the right software and later implementing the selected system.
Graphic – There are a lot of times in software development where programmers over use graphical elements to make it look pretty without adding any real value. I don’t think that’s ever the case with a hospital patient flow software. In a fast paced hospital where nurses, doctors and other staff are quickly moving around the hospital, the visual queues of a graphical patient flow software can be life saving.
Mobile, Digital Signage, and Touchscreens – One of the most important parts of a patient flow system is which devices and interfaces it supports. It is one thing to say that a software can be used on a device and another thing to say it should be used on a device. It is well worth taking the time to understand how the patient flow system works across a wide variety of devices. Make sure that the software works well across mobile, digital signage, and touchscreen interfaces. Each one can help you solve a different patient flow challenge.
While at HIMSS, HP recorded a video of Central Logic’s CEO, Darin Vercillo, demoing some of the features of the Central Logic patient flow automation system across the range of HP devices. I think it provides an interesting visual of many of the things I mention above. Check out the video embedded below:
Obviously, you need to take a deeper dive into their patient flow software to see how it will work for your environment. However, I think the video does a good job showing you the potential of what a good patient flow software could look like across a range of devices. Considering the various workflows in a hospital, the right patient flow system will have to be flexible enough to work in a wide variety of settings.
What other things have you found differentiate patient flow software systems? What benefits have you received from a patient flow system? If you haven’t yet implemented one, why haven’t you done so yet? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and experience in the comments.
This post is sponsored by HP Healthcare, however opinions on products and services expressed here are my own. Disclosure per FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255.