Defining a successful clinical engineering transformation

By William Girling
Healthcare Global takes a look at e-health best practice and how best to implement clinical engineering...

In our preceding article, we explored how clinical engineering (CE) is transforming the paradigm for tech-driven healthcare.

Offering patients 24/7 care, an optimised clinical experience and a more efficient way of deploying facility services, CE, particularly when applied to critical areas such as intensive care units (ICUs), puts forward a strong business case for exploration.

As this is true for one aspect of hospital care, it is not unlikely that a similar transformation in the field of healthcare tech equipment is also possible. 

E-health best practice

In many ways the examples of best practice in e-health are comparable to pre-existing standards. Although there is a shift in emphasis towards technology, hospitals must still ensure the following:

  • Access, efficiency, safety must be monitored.
  • An adequate pre/post-visit plan must be adhered to.

However, there is still a discernible difference and a particular set of challenges to navigate. Namely:

  • Hospitals must avoid simply becoming ‘customer support’ for the technology they choose to employ.
  • Hospitals should consider a more integrated approach to system planning. This will save cost, increase ease of use and optimise technological agility.

Therefore, before proceeding with such a plan, it is important to consider what the ‘keys to success’ might be for implementing CE across multiple aspects of healthcare.

The keys to success

#1: Buy-in

Although the expansive nature of CE-driven optimisation might make it seem like parochial issues would be minimised, some commentators emphasise the importance of end-to-end organisational buy-in.

“Human relations and buy-in play a very important role in the success of any new technology,” state Scurlock and Becker. “The statement ‘All politics are local’ could not be truer than in the world of telemedicine, and it is apt in all other clinical work areas as well.”

Both nurses to physicians must be provided with adequate knowledge, training and support frameworks to develop the necessary trust for CE innovations to take root.

#2: Patient engagement

Directly linked to #1, patient engagement should be a natural consequence of hospital staff buy-in. 

An article from Harvard University’s ‘Lean Forward’ quotes Anthony Orsini D.O. as saying, “Communication is the number one factor influencing the patient experience, and one interaction can change the course of someone’s life.”

By creating a positive impression of CE’s potential and demonstrating its benefits across healthcare, hospitals encourage patient interest and therefore drive positive clinical outcomes.

#3 Engage with process improvement

With increased digitisation come richer data streams, and leveraging these can be invaluable in the quest for ever-better patient outcomes.

Medical errors constitute the third-largest cause of death in the US, meaning that systemic improvements to tech infrastructure could make a significant impact on healthcare generally.

Moreover, real-time feedback can be transformative for time-critical areas of healthcare, as is the case with ICUs, as they facilitate in-situ improvements that can save lives, time and money.

Find out more in LTTS' white paper: download here 

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