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Microsoft Industry Blogs

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The convergence of healthcare and technology has resulted in an explosion of data and solutions focused on supporting clinicians in making better informed decisions and improving patient outcomes. Even though many providers have migrated to electronic health records over the past 10 years, the digitization of health information in and of itself has not significantly improved clinical collaboration and productivity.

Interoperability continues to be a major challenge for the industry, perpetuated by the implementation of new solutions that can’t talk to each other. Managing fragmented systems and data sources can be difficult, with the burden often falling on clinicians, decreasing the time they can spend with patients and their teams. Instead, organizations should look to implement solutions that cut inefficiencies, streamline cumbersome processes, and integrate into existing systems, reducing time and effort required from care workers and improving the hand off of patient information.

Here are three areas where technology can improve clinical collaboration, productivity, and efficiency across health teams, so they can focus their time where it matters most.

Enhancing team huddles through virtual collaboration and process improvement

Team huddles are short meetings where clinicians come together on a regular basis to focus on quality, safety and efficiency initiatives. For many organizations, using huddles to submit new ideas, implement and track process improvement metrics, and analyze results is manual and inefficient. These inefficiencies are compounded for larger health systems that may be dealing with the same issues, but sharing knowledge and best practices is challenging because huddles are siloed.

Reimagining the huddle process is a way technology can empower health teams to securely work together. By using intelligent tools to share ideas, track metrics and view results, clinicians can be more efficient and effective in their process improvement initiatives. One large healthcare provider in the United States tried a new approach by using an intelligent assistant—an idea bot—to replace handwritten notes. Any employee can go to the bot, share an idea, and assign an owner. Then, leadership can track the initiatives across multiple locations and view results over time. Tracking process improvement metrics and results was also automated, enabling leadership to be more proactive and stay ahead of issues.

Because the solutions and data are hosted in the cloud, best practices can also be shared across the organization, encouraging deeper clinical collaboration and improvements over time.

Reimagining the huddle process with intelligent assistants enables health teams to spend less time tracking ideas, metrics, and results and spend more time improving quality, safety, and providing patient care.

Reducing administrative efforts for clinicians with shared tools and increased mobility

Effective coordination among teams is an integral part of the care management process. Patient care can involve multiple providers across locations, yet many organizations are constrained by on-premises systems and other solutions that inhibit data flow.

By shifting to cloud-based technologies, providers can improve collaboration, streamline the patient care experience, and promote teamwork. Microsoft customers have leveraged the cloud to consolidate their collaboration tools, enabling clinicians to use mobile devices to support more efficient patient transfers. Before the cloud, moving patients required nurses to leave the floor to convey critical information to the department or provider receiving the patient. Now they can complete the handoff virtually and use patient transport associates instead of nurses, freeing up clinician time while ensuring no loss of vital information. They’re also using video conferencing to conduct patient rounds, enabling all caregivers to coordinate care regardless of their location.

Flexible collaboration tools can provide significant benefits for care teams, empowering clinicians to collaborate more efficiently and reduce costs by saving time throughout their busy day.

Enabling greater flexibility and efficiency in clinical consultations

Traditionally, clinical consultations have taken the form of in-person or phone-based meetings at specific times and intervals. These meetings are often difficult for caregivers to attend, as clinicians frequently practice in multiple locations and must also be available for emergency situations.

Microsoft partner Avanade piloted a new way of conducting tumor board reviews virtually. A tumor board is a treatment planning approach where various experts in different specialties review and discuss the medical condition and treatment options for a patient. These meetings are often held in person and clinical communication can be a significant challenge due to the number of experts involved. Avanade’s solution uses a secure persistent chat-based work space along with video conferencing and other productivity tools to enable participants to interact on a virtual platform regardless of location or device. They perform all their normal functions virtually in a secure and compliant environment including reviews of patient health information such as lab results or imaging.

With this new approach, the healthcare provider was able to move three times as many patients through the tumor board process. They also saw higher levels of participation across specialties, which they anticipate will drive future gains in treatment time and outcomes.

By enabling a more flexible approach to clinical consultations, providers can manage their caseloads in less time without impacting the quality of care.

Drive clinical productivity across your organization

As healthcare evolves, organizations will continue to tailor their approach to improve patient outcomes and the patient experience. This important shift cannot occur if clinician productivity is mired in multiple systems and manual, time-consuming processes. Technology can address clinician pain points by consolidating communication tools, enhancing care collaboration, reducing costs, and providing patients with better care.

For more ideas on enhancing your productivity, read our care coordination eBook.