Technology is playing a crucial role in the current situation, with COVID-19 spreading so rampantly across the world. Robots are disinfecting the hospital premises and carrying meals to patients, drones are carrying medical supplies, and artificial intelligence (AI) is sorting scans to detect infection.

It’s not new.

Technology has always been an enabler for hospitals even before the COVID-19 virus came into the picture.

For a long time, hospitals have been using technology to provide better care, safety, and high-quality treatment to their patients.

Hospitals have been using technologies such as telehealth to offer medical advice to people living in remote or inaccessible areas. A recent study showed that ICUs with telehealth services showed a 20% improvement in patient’s cure.

Hospitals encourage patients to use wearable devices to track their heart rate, breathing patterns, etc. The data enables healthcare professionals to provide more data-driven and informed medical advice to patients. Hospitals are also able to prevent readmissions and offer value-based services to chronic patients.

Hospitals are becoming smarter. From AI to the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and robotics, they have the option to choose from an array of technologies.

However, with so many technologies available in healthcare, hospitals find it challenging to choose the one that perfectly aligns with their objectives.

In this blog, we delve upon the steps that hospitals must make take while choosing a new technology.

How do hospitals decide on new technology?

Define why the new technology is needed

Every technology offers some promise to improve the existing ways of functioning. For example, wearable devices can reduce the burden of the healthcare team who has to check the health parameters of chronic patients regularly. Business Intelligence dashboards can help hospitals to manage different data such as patient demographics, billing management, etc. It is essential to determine the purpose of investing in new technology. Is it to improve patient care or to automate and streamline human-intensive processes? Once the purpose is clear, the hospital will be able to narrow their options and make a more informed decision.

Discuss with the decision-makers and the team that will be using it

While selecting new technology, hospitals must consult the key decision-makers and the team that will be using the technology. Hospitals will have to answer a few crucial questions such as – will the technology solve the challenge that the healthcare team is facing? Will they need extra training to use the technology? Will it seamlessly fit into the existing processes and operations of the hospital? Does the hospital have the resources to migrate from legacy technology to a new one? Do they have the budget to invest and maintain new technology? Answers to these questions will prepare the hospital to adopt the new technology quickly without any hassles.

Check if the technology has worked well before

Before investing in new technology, hospitals should check if it has worked well for others. Online reviews and general peer reviews from other hospitals can indicate their success. Hospitals can also perform quality tests to check if it can work well within their current ecosystem. The objective is to ensure that they do not burn their fingers on the wrong technology.

Evaluate vendors

There are plenty of vendors in the market. Each of them will try to hype their services and benefits, making it difficult for hospitals to choose the right one. As Steve Lefar, the CEO of Applied Pathways, said, “The risks of overstating your abilities in the healthcare industry are huge.  The implications are literally life and death.  No one benefits from promising too much to consumers and being unable to measure up.” That’s why vendor evaluation is so critical. Hospitals should be able to trust them. It’s important to spend time with the vendors to understand if they have the skills and knowledge to lead the transition efforts. They must check if the vendors understand their business needs, can customize the solutions, and if they are transparent in their communication. It could be a lengthy process, but getting a trustworthy vendor is essential.

Identify use cases and choose metrics to measure success

Considering how cost and resource-intensive the entire process of adopting new technology is, hospitals should first do a pilot test before deploying it across the hospital. Identify processes that require technology intervention. Do a pilot test to see if it works well. To gauge the success of the pilot program, establish metrics for evaluation. Some metrics that the healthcare team can evaluate could include –improvement in the quality of patient care, patient satisfaction, improvement in clinical outcomes, etc.

Deploy once the pilot is successful

Once the pilot program shows changes, and the metrics are established, hospitals can move to the next step of implementing it. Hospitals should be ready to adopt the technology at a broader scale, optimize it, and iterate wherever necessary. Continuous testing and improvement on-the-go will help hospitals to derive more value from the implementation program.

Conclusion

Investing in healthcare technology is a huge decision. Technology increases the annual cost of hospitals by 40%-50%. It is, therefore, essential to be careful about the complete implementation process. Hospitals can take help from consultants who specialize in smart healthcare technology. These consultants can guide hospitals in the technology adoption process and ensure that they generate high ROI and accrue patient’s loyalty through a significant shift.