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Written by Balaji

One experience most of us can relate to is the inordinate delay that we see in most hospitals while discharging a patient. Our experience can be as an inpatient or while taking care of a friend or relative who has been through a hospital stay as a patient. If the process of admission is bad, then the experience during discharge is even worse. A good Hospital Management System can significantly help improve patient care besides improving the operational efficiency of the hospital.

It is important that the patient be provided integrated care from admission to discharge in the case of patients that are admitted to the hospital. There are several touchpoints that the patient goes through in a hospital. It starts with a patient booking an appointment. Is the patient able to find out the appropriate doctor for her illness? Is the information on the hospital website accurate and correct enough such that the patient can locate the right doctor that she should meet? Is the hospital reception able to help the patient in a friendly and professional manner?

Once the appointment is in place, is the patient attended to on time? Is the reception helpful in case the patient must wait to meet the provider due to a medical emergency? Is the doctor courteous and listen to the patient’s problems? Did the doctor build a connect with the patient? Did the doctor spend sufficient time with the patient? Is the fee charged in line with the market? Did the doctor examine the patient thoroughly and provide guidance on the treatment plan? If the patient is to be admitted as an inpatient, was the admission process transparent? Was complete information provided? Was the patient treated with dignity? As an inpatient, was she attended by the doctors and nurses on time? Were all reasonable patient needs met on time? Were all the charges clearly explained? Was there any overcharging? Was the patient subject to unnecessary medical procedures? Were the patient and her attendants kept abreast of all information relating to the patient’s health? Was the process of discharge timely? Was information about post discharge treatment given? Were follow-up appointments booked? All these are patient hospital touchpoints. A bad experience in any one touchpoint can cloud the perception of the patient’s overall experience with the hospital.

Improve quality of patient care and outcomes

A Hospital Management System helps in minimising clinical errors, improving patient adherence to medical advice and self-management of diseases and minimising issues relating to drug interactions due to significant increase in adverse event reporting. Any patient information that has already been captured should not be sought again elsewhere during the entire process.

It is important to focus on continuously improving the quality of patient care in the hospital. Greater patient satisfaction will mean better demand for the services offered by the hospital. The hospital can take the competition head-on and compete on quality of patient care and price. With the rise in medical malpractice litigations, hospitals would be better served by laying deep focus on patient care and outcomes. Reputational risk is also very high when patient care and outcomes are compromised.

The quality of patient care delivered by a hospital is a function of many parameters. Medical infrastructure, training, availability of skilled medical personnel and the efficiency of medical processes are certainly factors to keep in mind. However, the need for a robust Hospital Management System cannot be overlooked. Information technology is useful in eliminating errors and mistakes in prescribing medication in addition to helping with providing clinical decision-making support. Triaging helps in getting inputs from the most effective team with the use of telemedicine. Errors are also eliminated when the Hospital Management System integrates with bar code/QR code. 

Every touchpoint in a patient’s journey within the hospital is important and therefore the Hospital Management System should be configured in such a way that information is not asked again, systems are integrated, data is available easily for retrieval – all done in such a manner that privacy and security are the cornerstones from a patient’s perspective while controls and easy to use software are the basis for the system. Patient experience automatically will improve along with efficiency, convenience and comfort, clinical decision making, care outcomes, care delivery and costs. Every small detail can be tracked and measured. What gets measured gets done. This also means that the Hospital Management System can serve as an early warning system and detect early signs and symptoms of different conditions. Improved quality ratings are easier to achieve when a good Hospital Management System is in place. Patient ratings go up when the Hospital Management System supports quick and responsive processes in the hospital, on the back of good patient care outcomes. All the KPI’s and performance measures would see improvement as data becomes the core of all decision making.

It is simply not sufficient for a hospital to have advanced medical equipment without having supporting software which makes all processes within the hospital seamless. A hospital is perceived to be technically advanced only when the devices used in diagnosing and treatment are the best available in the market but when the integrated software supporting the patient journey works seamlessly and smoothly.  The Hospital Management System should support better communication between the patient and the provider. It is best if the Hospital Management System provides for a patient portal where the patient can login and obtain all relevant details pertaining to her medical condition and treatment. The patient portal can provide upon secure login by the patient, details of diagnosis, prescriptions, post admission guidelines, all invoices and statement of accounts pertaining to both outpatient and inpatient journeys.

A Hospital Management System ensures that doctors and care providers have accurate data to make sound decisions. Good data means better diagnosis and therefore better and more targeted treatment. In the long run, it also means that hospital revenue sees an uptick as the hospital build a reputation for ensuring better patient outcomes. Better revenue management is best achieved by plugging revenue leakages and ensuring adequate financial controls are in place without compromising the need for the Hospital Management System to be fast and convenient.

Patient care outcomes are better when a Hospital Management System is used. Medication errors are minimised in addition to adverse drug reactions. There is also distinct improvement in patient compliance to guidelines that are provided as part of the treatment. Patient care also is impacted by the compliance to practice guidelines which improves with the use of a Hospital Management System. The integration of all components of the patient journey results in facilitating care coordination and improving practice efficiencies. Moving towards patient centred care is important. No two patients can be treated in a similar manner. The care regime must be customised to meet the medical requirements of each patient, in addition to the needs and values. Expectations of care also depends on each patient. Outcomes also depend on the patient’s experience in the hospital. There are several other factors that determine patient outcomes such as how well the patient adheres to medical advice, patient safety in the process of providing patient care and in many cases avoiding the unnecessary use of medical services. Hospitals are continuously challenged to balance increasing patient load while focusing on outcomes, costs, and consistent medical practices. Telemedicine integrated with the Hospital Management System can help in monitoring patients remotely. It is especially useful when the patient is in a remote location with limited access to healthcare or in cases where there is an overload of patients or shortage of medical personnel necessitating patient monitoring through telemedicine. Patient behaviour can be tracked and changes as appropriate. Telemedicine is effective in many cases such as in providing psychiatric care and in chronic disease care. It is also as effective as face-to-face care in the case of acute care where ICU patients can be remoting monitored by a team of intensivists remotely. Wait times are reduced with a benefit on patient care costs as well.

A good Hospital Management System should take care of both medical and non-medical needs. In any patient journey, it is important that the communication be seamless and effective. Doctors and care givers need quick access to patient details. Unnecessary delays can be eliminated. Patient data can be tracked over time which is useful for Healthcare Providers in setting a treatment plan for patients. Personnel can also be trained on specific patient needs and requirements. Practice guidelines in terms of the use of appropriate medication, use of proper instruments and equipment can be ensured.

Conclusion

Patient care is a function of several factors. Outcome is one of the most important one in so far as patient care is concerned. Care outcomes improve when a Hospital Management System is in place as errors in prescribing medicines reduce, drug reactions are minimised, practice processes are adhered to, and patients provided information and data on the proper management of their medical condition. From a patient’s perspective good outcomes are a given from an expectation standpoint. However patient experience would also include the overall experience during the patient journey including at each touchpoint with the hospital’s staff and equipment. A decision support system, whether AI driven or not, can also be a great tool for hospitals to improve outcomes. The cost of treatment is also equally important. Costs need to be commensurate with the patient outcome and experience keeping in mind the competition. A Hospital Management System certainly can help with all these.

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