Old Technology Means More Money Lost in Hospitals

closer up of pager with white backgroundBy Emily Murray

Arguably, technology is more important in the medical field than anywhere else, so why then are so many hospitals relying on outdated systems? This is what researchers behind the latest revealing survey would like to know. When old technology is relied on, the hospital loses money and the patient loses time.

How much money is lost exactly? According to the study U.S. hospitals are losing nearly $8.3 billion in productivity and increased patient discharge times due to outdated technology.

While the technology is available, it comes down to one main issue concerning the doctor-patient and even doctor-to-medical staff relationship:  security. Because some of the easiest ways of contacting a person are now largely social media based or through iPhone messaging, there are security and privacy issue surrounding contacting patients through these channels. Likewise, even withing the hospital there are security issues preventing this fast communicating from happening when patient information is needed from nurse to doctor or vice versa.

It was estimated that the average clinician wastes 46 minutes each day waiting for patient information. The reason for the lapse may vary. For doctors, outdated pagers may have spotty service or are unreliable. On the other end, maybe the patient doesn’t have email access or can’t use a personal phone at work, but the outcome is the same – massive capital lost. In just one year the average hospital loses $900,000 in productivity.

We have all been through the process of waiting to be discharged from the hospital and it’s essentially a similar experience across the board. You get the news you can go home and then you wait…and wait. This new study revealed that this is largely due to the lapse in time it takes for staff to communicate and get the necessary patient information for discharge, making the average wait 102 minutes while roughly 37 of these minutes are spent waiting for information with outdated systems.

A USA Today synopsis of the study reveled how one South Carolina hospital is trying to turn this around. The Beaufort Memorial Hospital began using a secure-texting system instead of pagers to rely information between nurses and doctors/ These iPhones are equipped with an app from the Apple Store that actually is capable of encrypting messages and storing them. The same hospital has also updated sign in methods and reduced the amount of log in information that needs to be memorized in order to speed things up while still keeping the system secure.