Managing facilities better in a social distancing world – ET HealthWorld

By Amrita Chowdhury, Director and Co-founder, Gaia

As a result of covid-19, The Internet of Things (IoT) became a key building block being deployed to eradicate the virus, get us back to work safely and to kick start the global economy by helping us to improve the hospital productivity and patient experience through data-driven operations.

Hospitals are critical, complex, and dynamic spaces, where requests and emergencies arise across departments on a continuous basis, creating a need for the sharing of critical support staff, resources, and equipment.

However, current hospital operations and processes tend to be manual. The movement of equipment, materials, and files are managed manually over dispatch calls. This is even more critical in the Post covid-19 scenario, when there is a shortage of staff or resources, need for social distancing amid available staff, and greater than ever need for sanitization and contactless practices.

In the short term, there are restrictions on workforce allowed at any given time. Patients are fearful of accessing non critical, non-emergency hospital services. The risk of cross contamination from spaces, equipment, or staff is higher.

Cognitive Process Automation enables seamless service orchestration in hospitals by monitoring, tracking, managing, and optimizing non-clinical workforce, workflows, and assets to ensure the effective delivery of high quality care and responsive patient engagement. By better allocating tasks to people, managing movement across hospital spaces, and adding “contactless” tech enabled processes, hospitals can further improve sanitation and health safety outcomes.

This Automation and Service Orchestration relies on a suite of interconnected digital technologies and tools that can automate and digitally transform every part of hospital operations and every space and function that serves and interacts with patients.

Along with automation, real time analytics provides hospitals with a unified view of operations, people, and assets, and actionable data with intelligent alarms and escalations to improve response times. It helps hospitals transform into event-driven and data-driven operations.

⦁ Hospital support functions can be automated. Digital tools can enable hospitals to track and manage last mile day-in day-out tasks. This helps the workforce deliver to high tolerance SOPs with higher service levels, and improves productivity and efficiency outcomes.

⦁ Several functions and tasks within a hospital require dynamic allocation and management of staff and resources. IOT, Digital, and AI based tools enable hospitals to improve efficiency and reduce critical delays by improved optimization.

⦁ Post procedure care is a large part of any hospital’s operations. Patient requests – both clinical or non-clinical – may arise at any time from in-patient rooms spread across wards, wings and floors. Digital tools powered by AI algorithms can enable hospitals to manage and serve these dynamic requests in a timely and responsive manner meeting different objectives.

The immediate challenge for hospitals is to exercise extra caution and care in addressing Covid19 cases, while creating safe spaces and social trust for prospective patients and practicing doctors to start scheduling other procedures and visits. Digital tools can be easily deployed and can help hospitals see immediate benefits in managing health and sanitation outcomes and improving safety perceptions.

The long run challenge for hospitals is to recognize the long term outcome, efficiency, and cost improvements offered by investing in non-medical technologies and non-medical processes. Back-end hospital operations and front-end patient experience management processes are critical elements of running a hospital.

Small improvements in these areas, through Cognitive Process Automation, Service Orchestration, and Analytics can give hospitals inordinate benefits. Such automations have become even more necessary in present times when social distancing norms are to be practised even within the hospital among the staff like doctors and nurses.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it. shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.

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