Back in 2001, the Institute of Medicine published a landmark report, Crossing the Quality Chasm, which included a framework of 10 “simple” rules for healthcare redesign in the 21st century. The framework included directives like “Knowledge is shared and information flows freely,” and “Clinicians and institutions actively collaborate and communicate to ensure an appropriate exchange of information and coordination of care.”
While the rules seem simple enough, like many things in healthcare they are easier said than done—healthcare is still striving for interoperability and seamless clinician and patient communication, all while doing more with less in the transformation to value-based care. However, many have made significant strides: A FHIR demo has been shown to enable exchange of patient medication information, the 21stCentury Cures Act was passed and is likely to have a positive effect on interoperability, and innovation is ongoing at the national and organizational level to bring clinical communications to new heights in healthcare.
We asked our own experts here at Spok for their thoughts. We wanted to know what’s next on the agenda given what healthcare has accomplished in 2016. Which trends will gain momentum, and what new priorities will seize the spotlight? Read their 2017 predictions below:
How will clinical communications shift in 2017?
As health systems look to do more with less, there will be a shift that elevates the focus on clinical communications and collaboration as a core enabler of highly efficient, highly reliable patient-centered care models. Ask any caregiver and they will identify gaps and frustrations in communication. How many times have those gaps and frustrations led to a patient safety event, a longer stay in the hospital, or the caregiver spending less time with the patient? Just as successful quality initiatives require a multi-disciplinary approach supported by highly engaged leaders, workflow-driven technologies, ongoing KPI reviews, and continuous optimization, improving clinical communications to support different workflows and care models must be addressed with a similar level of energy, commitment, and organizational support. With EHRs firmly in place to automate transactions and care processes and analytics solutions identifying insights for ongoing improvement, a unified communication strategy that ties together the care team, coordinates workflows, and mobilizes clinical events is the third leg of the stool to help organizations thrive and meet their constantly increasing quality, cost, and patient experience improvement goals.
How will the role of nurses in health IT evolve in 2017?
We will likely see three major trends for nursing and technology in 2017. The first is that the role of the chief nursing information officer (CNIO) will expand and become an essential role on senior teams. Many organizations will hire a CNIO to serve as a strategic partner and voice of nursing in technology projects and initiatives. Second, mobile strategies for nursing will be prominent in the coming year. Developing clinically driven workflows leveraging mobile technology to assist with quality care delivery will be important to nursing. I think we’ll see some decisions on whether nurses will bring their own devices or use shared devices. Finally, nursing retention and the nursing shortage is something that will keep CNOs up at night. Therefore, innovative solutions such as virtual nursing and a care team delivery model will likely be answers to ensuring the right care, at the right time, delivered by the appropriate healthcare team member.
What industry trend do you think will come to the forefront in 2017?
There is a lot of change and uncertainty in healthcare heading into 2017. But no matter what happens with legislation, the goal of delivering better, more cost-effective care will not change. I believe that organizations which have made deeper commitments to value-based care initiatives will have a much better understanding of what’s needed in order to fully realize the necessary efficiencies in their business plans. When you get under the hood, access to better data, tighter integration and seamless communication will be table stakes. Not optional. And anyone who’s been around healthcare for the past few decades knows that it’s much easier said than done. The trend of organizations choosing platforms vs. application silos will only accelerate. They will look for potential breaks in the communication chain and how to eliminate weak links. So I believe that open, secure platforms that can enable organizations to deliver high-quality, efficient care, and attain their business objectives will be absolutely top of mind for healthcare executives.
What industry innovation do you think has the greatest potential in 2017?
The greatest disruptive innovation will be the continued deployment of mobile technologies. As caregivers move from the desktop to mobile it will greatly improve their efficiency and ability to deliver care to patients. Many hospitals and health systems will enhance their support of an open messaging ecosystem, so they have the flexibility to support collaboration with all care team members on their preferred mobile devices—whether that means a secure messaging app on smartphones or Wi-Fi phones, an encrypted pager, or a voice badge. A broad, flexible, and device-neutral mobile communications infrastructure is the best foundation for improving clinical workflows for everyone and fostering the effective care coordination that drives better patient outcomes. We’ll see more organizations focusing on strengthening that foundation for mobile technologies in the new year.
What will be the most sought-after technology consulting service hospitals look for in 2017?
Healthcare recognizes they need to deliver more value and higher-quality care to their patients, and the industry is facing dramatic changes in meeting these expectations. The most sought-after consulting services for hospitals in 2017 will be assistance in how they communicate critical information better. Hospitals that get this right will increase patient satisfaction and meet industry requirements easily. But it is not so easy to get there on your own—Spok Consulting Services expects many customers to look to us to assist them with promoting deep adoption of their clinical communication solutions. Effective consulting services will provide clinical expertise that drives efficiencies and measurable outcomes within hospitals. They will identify new opportunities and assist in workflow design that works. Consulting services that focus on the improvements and long-term partnerships with the customer will help increase overall performance.
What makes you most excited for Spok in 2017?
What makes me most excited is that we are embarking on a journey with our customers to solve problems that have not been tackled yet. There are plenty of vendors that do messaging for physicians or for nurses, but no one has really nailed what healthcare truly needs to do to improve communication across the continuum of care: A clinical communication platform that encompasses all roles and stakeholders. We are the pioneers in creating the clinical communication platform in healthcare that will enable care providers to improve outcomes—we are doing OUR part in improving healthcare. What better motivation is there?