Technology can be a key enabler for healthcare organizations throughout the world. What exactly are the best technologies to help you navigate the 21st century and beyond? I'm going to cover that and more in today’s blog.
Healthcare organizations have gone through quite a bit of change over the years. Everything from regulation to pandemics to financial pressures, all sorts of dynamics have changed the state of healthcare as we know it. Along the way, health care organizations have struggled to remain profitable, continue to grow, and provide the optimal patient experience.
Here are the top 10 technologies (in no particle order) that can best enable you to accomplish your goals as a healthcare organization.
The first and probably the most common and well-known technology for healthcare organizations is EHR software or Electronic Health Records. This is a type of technology that allows healthcare organizations to track clinical information, patient information, billing information, scheduling, telehealth, basically all the patient-facing patient experience type of processes and all the data and records that go behind that.
Some of the common and most popular vendors that provide this sort of technology include Epic, and Cerner, for example, although there's other technology providers out there, these are the most common ones. EHR is one of the most fundamental aspects of healthcare technology today, and one that you may want to consider for your healthcare organization.
Now, healthcare organizations spend a lot of money on everything from supplies, to medicines, to equipment, and testing. There's a lot of opportunities to save money and to pool your resources and leverage the size and scale of your organization. That's something that procurement and supply chain management software can do. It can help you make sure that you understand where you're spending your money, which vendors you're spending your money with. It will track which vendors are performing, delivering on time, and delivering the quality you expect - sort of a supplier scorecard.
These systems provide the visibility needed to make the best purchasing decision for your organization. Not only to reduce costs but also to get the best quality and the best patient outcomes that you're looking for. If you're looking for a way to optimize your spending, procurement and supply chain management software can be a great way to do that.
An example of procurement software would be something like a Reba that's a software that allows healthcare providers and other organizations to track their procurement, their vendor relationships, and other functions to enhance their spending and level of patient care.
We've talked about the technologies that can enable a better patient experience, and that can automate some of your procurement processes, but there's also the back office financial and accounting side of things. Tying together all this data to more effectively analyze the bottom-line results of how well your healthcare organization is performing is key to long-term success. Most of the technologies I've talked about so far don't have that capability necessarily built in their software.
Many healthcare organizations find that having standalone software to handle their financial and accounting needs can be beneficial. Accounting and financial software not only helps you track the books in your general ledger, but it helps you get deeper into the analytics of your healthcare organization.
Those sorts of analytics and data related to your financial performance can be very powerful, and an extremely effective way to ensure that you have a more profitable and efficient healthcare organization.
If you're a larger healthcare provider, and an inventory intensive healthcare provider, you may have your own warehouses, and it may require you to track your inventory, locations of inventory, what orders you need to trigger to fulfill inventory shortcomings or demand from the different locations of your organization. With that automation need in mind, a door opens to the opportunity to use warehouse management systems or WMS as they're often referred to you.
These are systems that help automate the entire pick pack and ship process, the receiving process. If you do cross-docking or if you have a sort of con on warehouse where once the inventory gets to a certain level, you automatically trigger more orders. That's the sort of thing that a warehouse management technology can help you do.
There are a lot of common warehouse management providers out there, like GTA and Manhattan associates. Those are just two examples of two types of WMS systems that can help automate some of your warehouse operations if that's something that's important to your organization.
The fifth type of technology that can help your healthcare organization is Human Capital Management. HCM is another phrase for HR technology or HR systems. This is the technology that helps you identify and attract talent. It helps you track recruiting functions and track new hire processes.
It also helps you monitor performance management, benefits, payroll, all that sort of stuff that goes into human capital management. Also, resource management, scheduling and making sure you have the right types of skills, in the right place, at the right time. Anything to do with your people can be automated and made more effective with human capital management software.
This is especially important for healthcare organizations that have ebbs and flows and demand for their labor force, or organizations that might suffer from attrition. These are just a few examples of cases where healthcare organizations can benefit from human capital management.
Some common examples of human capital management systems include Workday, SAP Success Factors, for example, those are probably the two most common ones, Oracle Talent Management is another one. It is important to really look at technology as a way to automate some of those employee-facing processes that are important to you as a healthcare organization.
Out of the five things we've talked about it, I may have presented them in a way that sounds like those are five distinctly different technologies. The reality is there's a six type of technology that incorporates some or all of those five resources - Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP software. ERP software is really just another name for a fully integrated system that ties together multiple functions across an entire organization. I talked about financials, accounting, human capital management, procurements, EHR, all as different systems. ERP systems are single systems that try to do all those things well.
The catch to ERP systems is, while they are more integrated and provide a more seamless user experience, they tend to not succeed at being everything to everyone within your organization. In other words, you can probably find better HCM systems out there than what most ERP systems can provide. HCM is typically a module within ERP systems but, those modules oftentimes aren't as strong as if you went out and looked at a HCM specific technology that focuses only on that one area.
This is the tradeoff you have to look at but for many larger organizations, ERP systems can be a good way to consolidate all the technologies that I've covered so far.
Now one of the more emerging technologies that aren't necessarily a standalone technology, but it can be embedded in some of these other technologies is Artificial Intelligence. Machine learning is another common interchangeable term for artificial intelligence. AI and machine learning is a way to take data from your patients or even financial information and try to anticipate what is going to happen in the future.
In some case studies or examples of how artificial intelligence can help is - if you look at the clinical data that you have from your patients. Artificial intelligence can anticipate what a potential diagnosis or a solution might be for that particular patient situation using past data.
An example on the financial side would be to anticipate where discrepancies occur in your accounts payable processes. As you receive and process invoices, artificial intelligence can flag the invoices that fall outside of certain parameters that don't fit the pattern of usual business.
These are just two small examples on a broader scale of how artificial intelligence is being used more and more by healthcare organizations. These companies have the benefit of being very data intensive because they are tracking so much information and so many different data points from patients. From inside the organization, financials, billing, and everything that goes into the daily operations. There's a lot of data there that can be used to leverage artificial intelligence.
The Internet of Things is another emerging technology, not just in healthcare, but even on the consumer side. Anyone who wears an apple watch uses an iPhone, or any other sort of device technically, that is Internet of Things. You're tracking information, such as diagnostics and other data at a very micro level. Internet of Things really takes devices and bits and pieces of data to consolidate it to make use of that data.
As you track all this information about patients, for example, you're getting a lot of different diagnostics. Not only during their visits or patient experience they have with you, but also when they're away from your organization. The key here is how can we use and track data from other data sources to help create a more complete picture of the patient’s health profile.
All in all, that's just one example of how Internet of Things is an emerging technology that's being increasingly used more commonly by healthcare organizations.
If you're a larger healthcare organization with a variety of projects happening, whether it's new construction or internal projects, project management software can be a very powerful way to track and manage some of these internal initiatives. Project management software can oftentimes be embedded within a broader solution like an ERP system.
For the most part, we find that project management is sort of a standalone technology because it's so specialized and distinctive from what other technologies can do. Project management software isn't just for tracking tasks, deliverables, and milestones. Although that is a big part of what it does. It also monitors costs and assigns costs to different activities. These systems allow you to analyze the value vs. the cost of the project.
This software also helps with resource optimization, assigning assets, and managing these projects. There's a lot of complexities that project management software can help you manage if you're the type of healthcare organization that has a lot of internal projects going at any given time.
Just as many healthcare organizations spend a lot on supplies, drugs, and other types of costs – there’s also the bigger ticket items that involve capital spending. This could be anything from building a new hospital, or a new wing within your hospital, or buying new equipment. These are all assets that need to be managed, maintained, and repaired over time.
Enterprise asset management is a type of technology that allows you to optimize spending on your assets. It helps you to get the most out of your assets. The systems use predictive analytics to figure out when your assets need maintenance or repair. These are just a few examples of how enterprise asset management can help.
EAM systems can be standalone, or they can be embedded within a broader technology like an ERP system. It is something you really want to dig into if you are a capital-intensive organization and if you have a lot of assets that you're managing on your balance sheet.
This blog is intended to give you an overview of the 10 technologies that you should be considering for your healthcare organization. However, there's a lot more to learn and consider.
I wanted to provide a resource that will provide more information and best practices around evaluating and deploying potential technology options. We have our 2021 Digital Transformation Report, which includes evaluations of different technologies in the marketplace.
I hope you found this information useful. If you’d like more customized feedback regarding Healthcare Technology or if you have any additional questions in general – please reach out to me directly. I am happy to be an informal sounding board for your digital transformation journey.