Dr. Stephen Nichols has over 25 years of experience in Emergency Medicine. His work for SCP Health focuses on helping facilities and systems with various operational and service challenges to balance patient care, provider expectations, business goals, and healthcare demands. In an interview with Modern Healthcare Custom Media, Dr. Nichols discussed how providers can leverage technology to improve productivity, without losing focus on personalization of care.
Improving Provider Team Productivity
Innovations arriving quickly...objects may be closer than they appear
SN: Technology enables clinicians to recognize specific quality criteria in a timely manner, as close to real-time as possible. If we can provide clinicians with relevant information and data during their encounter with a patient, we can make an impact on the decision-making process and ultimately influence outcomes. This is what AI should be able to help us with down the road.
SN: I think the biggest change has actually been developing for several decades, and that’s group communication. An increasingly complex healthcare system is requiring us to improve how we communicate both internally and externally. The ability to communicate electronically allows the day shift to easily transfer relevant information and data to the night shift. It even allows remote individuals to be a part of the team via telehealth, which is going to be one of the biggest changes we see in the coming years. Asynchronous communication is key, because hospitals are 24/7 and require multiple handoffs throughout the day. New technology is making these transitions easier and enabling improved patient safety.
SN: To me, this is the most interesting aspect of virtual care. Just like our vocabulary has advanced as it relates to emojis and other text message slang, so will our eHealth vocabulary. With text messaging and other new communication technologies, meaning and tone are lost because we’re not speaking aloud or in-person. When we communicate with patients over portals and other platforms, I think we will similarly find that we will have to develop signifiers — things that will indicate to someone what we’re talking about. Just as we have to do in our everyday lives, we’ll have to know whether we need to pick up the phone and speak to someone, or if we need to bring someone in for a simple and meaningful conversation. Providers will need to be trained on how best to communicate given both the patient and the situation.
Timeliness is also a factor when it comes to eHealth. People may not want to wait to hear serious news, so clinicians need to think intently about when it’s time to pick up the phone. The true measure of any conversation is ultimately mutuality — being able to ensure you both have a shared comprehension of whatever the conversation is about. Being engaged is being understood.
SN: The pace of innovation is increasing rapidly, and that pace is going to continue, so it’s hard to guess five generations from now what our industry will look like. We’ll expect the delivery of healthcare to be very similar to what it’s like now, but we’ll expect to do a lot of healthcare tasks with our phones. This will dramatically change how providers and patients interact.
Some clinicians will tell you that phones, the Electronic Health-Record and other technologies have caused them to lose productivity. However, you’ll never hear that from radiologists, who have been able to work much more efficiently in downloading large files and accurately matching imaging to patients.
Ultimately, any tool lacks value until you put it to use. It's up to providers to leverage technology in ways that will improve safety and efficiency.
To learn more about SCP Health, visit scp-health.com.