Why Healthcare Connectivity Can’t Wait For Another Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated healthcare changes at a pace no one was prepared for. From early 2020 until now, the need for healthcare organizations to provide their employees with tools to make data-driven decisions and automate time-intensive tasks has been amplified. The Great Resignation, and seemingly endless disruptions to the global supply chain, put tremendous pressure on healthcare organizations to ensure they have the right people with the right credentials, at the right place with the right supplies and equipment to provide optimal patient care. For organizations to thrive in this unpredictable environment, it’s imperative they have a connected enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that is driven by clinical data to provide end-users with contextual and up-to-date information.

For years, experts have been predicting a future shortage of healthcare providers. The pandemic has exacerbated this shortage. In a recent study surveying over 20,000 healthcare workers, 20% of physicians and 40% of nurses expressed intentions to leave their practice within the next two years. This voluntary turnover, combined with anticipated increases in retirements is very concerning in many areas, especially around the impact it will have on patients. A connected ERP system can help reveal insights to decrease turnover and speed up the onboarding process for new employees to minimize disruption and improve the quality of patient care.

Disparate systems make it difficult, if not impossible, to catch and react to early signs that an employee might be considering leaving an organization. Signs such as tardiness, unplanned absences, overdue or incomplete tasks, poor performance reviews, and feedback on surveys all could signal that an employee needs additional support or changes to retain them. Unfortunately, these can be easily missed because they are tracked in multiple, siloed applications. Small changes, such as adjusting a schedule, providing additional training, or modifying workload is much less costly than replacing an employee. By providing the tools to uncover these signals earlier, organizations can improve employee morale which has a direct effect on providing consistent, quality patient care.

Healthcare organizations are also tasked with ensuring the necessary equipment and supplies are always available. The last two years have been especially challenging for the global supply chain and the healthcare industry is not immune. Labor shortages as a result of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns had huge impacts on supply chain in 2020.  Moving into 2021, it seemed as though unexpected supply chain disruptors were constant. Despite these challenges, it remained imperative that organizations supply the necessary items to care for their patients. A clinically connected ERP system can automate the ordering of supplies based on use and driven by documentation already occurring in electronic medical records (EMR). This decreases the burden on the organization’s supply chain and alleviates additional stress on caregivers who would otherwise be forced to spend time searching for items or improvising, rather than focusing on patients.

Finally, a connected ERP system provides leaders with the complete picture to calculate the cost of care and how necessary changes will impact that cost. Artificial intelligence can quickly analyze data and support tough decisions, ensuring organizations can continue to increase revenue without sacrificing quality patient care.  In recent years, we have witnessed the tight correlation between finances, supply chain, and human resources in healthcare. Since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in the United States, frontline healthcare workers were begging their organizations to supply them with PPE and ensure realistic patient workloads. When organizations were unable to do so, healthcare staff were forced to reuse supplies or at times make or find their own. Respiratory care supplies ran low at many hospitals and typical suppliers could not meet the demand. Organizations with siloed systems struggled to quickly understand the financial impact it could have and were not able to make confident, data-driven decisions fast enough to adapt.

In a world where it seems like there is always a need to do more with less, technology that supports data-driven decision-making provided by information from clinical systems is essential. Often, healthcare providers and staff do not have the time or energy to gather information from multiple sources and are forced to make decisions with the information that is at their fingertips at that moment, potentially overlooking vital data. Healthcare organizations who can deliver the complete picture to decision-makers will be able to adapt to challenges and, at the same time, achieve higher levels of employee retainment and ensuring patients continue to return when they need care. It is only a matter of time before a new challenge arises; will your organization be ready?

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Brianna Zink is Sr. Director of Strategy, Service Industries, Infor