A Guide to Unlocking the Benefits of IWMS in Healthcare
With the amount of data, the vastness of their facilities, and the complexity of the services they provide, it is no wonder that hospitals and other large healthcare facilities often suffer from data management efficiency issues. In addition, as virtual care becomes increasingly prevalent, health data management, or the collection and sharing of data, is now more critical than ever.
However, these issues are not inevitable nor unfixable. Healthcare organizations need to begin treating data as a powerful asset and be willing to invest in a strategy for leveraging it in order to address issues of cost and efficiency.
Through streamlining systemwide processes, enhancing software ecosystems and standardizing data, many inefficiencies can be bypassed, providing access to a whole plethora of benefits. This typically requires a dramatic digital transformation of facilities and delivery networks.
Convincing health IT users that the destination is worth the journey can be a very challenging task, especially when many clinicians and administrative staff members feel overwhelmed by interacting with their existing analytics and management systems.
This article will make a case for integrated workplace management systems (IWMS) in the healthcare industry by looking at its benefits on two main fronts: patient health data management and healthcare facilities management. We will also unpack what these benefits are, how to develop strategies and implementation plans, and why it is worth the switch.
The Real Issue
The healthcare industry is experiencing the effects of Big Data, and most systems are not agile enough to keep up with this rapid expansion of data. In addition, the quality of the data is only as good as what you feed into the database, as well as how well it is organized. Fragmented data, spread over several platforms, is a challenge when these platforms are communicating with each other.
In 2017, more than half of hospital executives said that their organizations did not have an overarching data governance or data analytics plan in place. The lack of cohesive data strategy resulted in discrepancies in clinical reporting, conflict between departments, breakdowns in communication and culture, and unclear quality measurement processes. Far from ideal.
Especially in large facilities or across various campuses, there are often several different networks being used at once, which have their own separate applications and procedures. This makes computing unnecessarily complex and ultimately slows workflow and productivity.
What is not recognized is that facilities management is linked to Big Data in a considerable way; effective management requires systems that can adapt and keep up to the rapid developments in data and technology. This data can contain invaluable insights to steer development and decision-making, but without effective collection, storage and analysis, this value cannot be extracted.
Considering the incredible amount of healthcare data that exists for any human, the personal nature of healthcare data, and the life-or-death scenarios that depend on accurate data, one can see that good data management in healthcare is incredibly important. So, what should be done?
By investing in digitally upgrading data management systems, you can escape this outdated siloed network situation. This requires both a significant investment of time and funds but will save lots in the long run before long.
IWMS systems provide a holistic foundation for all processes and needs, driving down costs and boosting efficiency. By systematizing processes across networks, you can establish well-defined and reliable workflows that will facilitate successful navigation through everything from an individual’s health records to project life cycles.
In addition, these systems provide a new front-facing portal that can serve as a one-stop-shop for all data inputs and facility services, clarifying the processes needed to ensure that data is handled in a consistent manner.
Benefits of IWMS in Effective Healthcare Management
Usually, the selling point for such projects and investments is the need to guarantee a return on investment, whether that means freeing up latent capital or man-hours or providing tools the organization never knew it needed. Improved integrated data management systems allow you to hit the mark on all of these goals.
In fact, these systems make verifying this simple. With a single source of reliable data, you can ensure that finance department numbers match up with what was budgeted by building links between your broader finance systems and project tracking system.
Connectivity Beyond Technology
While at first such a system may be understood as a humble software and data solution — it is, after all, an integrated suite of software packages — internally, it’s valued even higher for the way it improves human-to-human connectivity. It effectively aligns clinical partners during project design and operationalization, and there are improved communications between clinical personnel and facilities in the department’s management of customer work requests.
More reliable data is another dividend gained. This increase in data reliability allows you to confidently strategize, schedule and forecast, as well as identify opportunities for improvement. Better visualizations and easier-to-digest reporting can help to ensure that potentially valuable data doesn’t end up in the trashcan.
Patient-centred care puts the patient in the front seat, alongside providers, who help the patient make shared and informed decisions. Mobile health applications have become an integrated part of many patients’ lives, and the data from these apps could potentially help the health sector a great deal. But to be useful for busy healthcare providers, data first needs to be organized, validated, and processed.
To deliver better care, the healthcare provider must be well-informed about the patients and link their health data with the most recent evidence. Time is a limiting factor, and providers do not always have the resources to read the patient’s records in detail.
It is thus essential to improve both the quantity and quality of health data since more data means more interpretation. These interpretations can become complex for healthcare providers as the dataset grows, as science continuously evolves, and as new guidelines are published, and new treatments discovered. Visually pleasing interface technologies can also speed up the learning process for staff members new to working with data.
Machine learning and other such automated analysis systems can be applied to and predict health outcomes and patterns that the human eye could have missed. These predictions can be targeted to help a specific patient group or used to describe trends and patterns on a population level for the authorities and the general public.
Improved Health Outcomes
This is the ultimate end goal of any health services provider.
Being able to track health trends in certain areas or among specific populations, it is possible to predict new trends and suggest proactive measures to counter rising health issues.
The same rule applies when implementing a new data management system as it does anything of high importance: Always do the right thing – not the easy thing.
Below are some steps to take not to implement this new system as quickly as possible but to develop the most robust and effective system possible. It’s a labour of love.
While upgrades and additions will be necessary to keep up with expansions and technology developments, the goal is to create a system that will adapt well to change, requiring thorough thought and careful planning.
Develop a data strategy
When preparing to transition or upgrade your data management systems, it is crucial to have a clear data strategy from the start. Ensuring that your data sets are aligned with industry standards means that all your data improvement efforts would lead to more consistency across the health system, improving not only local functionality but inter-organizational activity.
Establishing classifications for assets and spaces apply to both existing data and new data. It will ensure all data that flows into the new system is consistent.
Create a well-versed team
A steering committee should be in place from the beginning that consists of executive representation from several departments. Regular meetings to review progress and provide direction and alignment on decisions and risks can ensure all possible scenarios are thought through and all aspects considered.
This team is to be accountable for design and implementation and given the authority to make important decisions needed to keep the project on budget and schedule.
Integrate systems carefully
Facilities management should work very closely with other departments, in particular the finance and information technology system departments to align funding, budgets, commitments and actuals across software platforms.
Build a discrepancy report
A discrepancy report built within the analytics platform should contain the cost data from each system and quickly highlight when information in any system is not consistent. Monitoring this report frequently will allow you to quickly correct any discrepancies and keep your reporting as accurate as possible.
Follow data strategy needs
Let the data strategy needs drive how the system is constructed. The strategy for facilities asset and space data should be generated by the teams that eventually have to use the data. Ask these teams to present operational standards, and once these standards are finalized, they should be shared with the capital construction teams to ensure that the management of each project is designed in a way that serves each of its players.
Aim for continuous improvement
If a process is not operating as designed, evaluate what is and isn’t working and make changes as needed.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has eliminated any doubts as to the benefits or even the necessity of effective data management.
This is especially true when it comes to aligning project cash flows with the finance department’s projections. IWMS systems also provide an accurate picture of the situation and real-time updates on existing conditions, as well as the ability to map out scenarios for responding to the quickly changing crisis. From how to best amend the ongoing construction program to document changes to the patient care environment, all while carefully monitoring material and labour expended to respond to the pandemic, these systems can greatly improve all sorts of asset, project and space management under crisis conditions.
While improving facilities management efforts indirectly improves the overall provision of services, IWMS systems have capacities to directly improve care and patient experience by providing a user-friendly interface that empowers patients to become a partner in their own health provision.
It is not only patients who can benefit from using mobile apps. Healthcare providers can use their mobile devices to quickly receive test results, triage their patients, book appointments, communicate with their patients, use built-in decision support tools, and look up the newest guidelines before they even log onto a workstation.
Additionally, digitizing workflows makes work easier for facilities engineering team members and other hospital staff, as all customer work requests, and work orders can be assigned as soon as they are generated. This process leads to quicker completion times and increased staff satisfaction as anyone who creates a work order request is now provided with real-time updates that are automatically generated as the status of the work order advances.
Having systems that are compatible and standardized allows more effective collaboration between laboratory test facilities, pharmacies, inpatient and outpatient care settings can ensure that the quality of information stays high when data about serious conditions are shared across the care continuum.
Health data management is the central piece of electronic medical and health records. It helps the healthcare system improve care and decrease medical errors. It also enhances communication with other platforms where clear communication between systems is a top priority.
Health care providers can potentially deliver better care with better access to their patients’ health data. Patients can contribute data outside of in-person consultations and look up their health records to follow their care plans to stay engaged.
By clarifying and aligning processes across departments, implementing an integrated suite of software packages, digitizing workflows to better track projects and organizing all information around recognized health care data standards, IWMS systems provide the data management capacities to significantly improve the care provided.
IWMS system capacities exemplify an out-of-the-box approach to driving operational efficiency, which goes beyond solving a single hospital problem by creating opportunities to solve a national health system problem.