3 Ways Healthcare Priorities Will Likely Shift in 2021

By Madison Pittman

When COVID-19 first hit the United States in March of 2020, so many things were uncertain, but one thing became increasingly clear: COVID was not going to go away any time soon. The coronavirus impacted every aspect of hospital operations, and the way hospitals provide care has certainly evolved. While COVID impacted hospitals tremendously in 2020, it will continue to impact operations throughout 2021, although that impact may look a little different.

With the roll out of the vaccine, hospital priorities are going to shift. For example, in 2020, contact tracing was a major priority for hospitals and rightfully so. Contact tracing data shows hospitals which providers have likely been exposed to COVID which allows leadership to make informed decisions about who needs to quarantine, and perhaps more importantly, who can continue working. While contact tracing will always be important, its use among hospital staff will likely now be reserved for sneaky cases of tuberculosis or meningitis. Hospital priorities are certainly going to shift. Here’s what you can expect:

Nurse Burnout is Going to be More Widespread than Ever

Clinician burnout is not a new problem. The factors that make an individual an excellent healthcare provider may increase their risk of burnout. People who care deeply about their jobs, are dedicated to their patients, and strive to do their best (like most healthcare providers) often feel significant stress in work environments with long hours and staff shortages.

Unfortunately, due to COVID, long hours and staff shortages are more prevalent than ever. As of November 2020, hospitals in at least 25 states are critically short of nurses, doctors, and other staff. This means that providers are working longer hours and caring for more patients. Intensive care unit nurses, for example, typically care for no more than two patients at a time but are now being pushing to care for up to eight patients.

A survey from Mental Health America found that 93% of healthcare workers were experiencing stress, 86% reported experiencing anxiety, 77% reported frustration, 76% reported exhaustion and burnout, and 75% said they were overwhelmed. Nurse burnout doesn’t just affect the clinician in the hospital. Half of the healthcare providers with children reported they are unable to support their children or be a present parent.

The key to combatting provider burnout is using data to identify clinical inefficiencies. Clean Hands – Safe Hands can provide analytics to put programs in place and provide tools to help staff be more efficient in their patient interactions. Streamlining tasks and eliminating unnecessary or low – value interactions can increase provider satisfaction, improve care, and control costs.

Achieving High Marks on the Leapfrog Survey is Going to be a Priority

As hospitals have transitioned to value-based patient care, achieving a top grade on the Leapfrog Hospital Survey is going to be an increasing priority. The Leapfrog Group advocates for public access to data form all U.S. hospitals. Leapfrog’s website has a “How Safe is Your Hospital” search function where anyone can search their hospital and discover a variety of patient safety metrics. This allows consumers to quickly decide which hospital to receive care from. This is important because many consumers are wary of hospitals right now. Consumers are going to be doing their research before entering a hospital and having a positive Leapfrog grade is vital.

Leapfrog has upped the ante on hand hygiene. The survey contains 19 questions specifically related to hand hygiene. If a facility decides to use direct observation to assess hand hygiene, there are very specific standards they have to meet:

  • Observers must immediately intervene when individuals are non-compliant. The observations must include both opportunities and compliance rate.
  • The observation must be specific to an individual, not aggregated.
  •  Sample size of observations must be 200 observations or 1.7% of all possible hand hygiene opportunities, per unit.
  •  Observations must be conducted across all days of the week and all shifts proportional to individuals who interact with the patients.
  • A variety of roles must be represented in the observations (nurses, physicians, techs).

Needless to say, meeting the standards on the hand hygiene assessment using direct observation is nearly impossible. However, if a facility chooses to implement an electronic hand hygiene system, meeting the standards becomes a lot easier (and less resource intensive). With the Clean Hands – Safe Hands system, the monitoring assessment is passed with flying colors.

The Presence of Big Data in Healthcare is Going to Keep Expanding

Big data is a term generally used to describe the massive amounts of data that an organization can potentially put to use. This data can be used to find patterns in the organization and make predictions for the future.

Hospitals collect huge amounts of data. Information amassed from phones, patient portals, research studies, public record, and electronic medical records are all accessible to hospitals. Radiology, for example, a field that formerly has been viewed as just yielding a set of images, is using big data to find patterns and connections across different sets of images. With more and more historical data, radiologists can make predictions of future anatomical changes in a patient. At Emory’s Center for Biomedical Imaging Statistics, researchers are working on creating analytical tools that search for and find biosignatures in brain scans that identify abnormalities such as mental illnesses, addiction, and cognitive issues.

The struggle for all industries, specifically healthcare, is taking the masses of data, combining it, and breaking it down into actionable pieces. Essentially, hospitals need to make their big data small again to make it useful. Clean Hands – Safe Hands steps in and helps customers dissect their data. Clean Hands – Safe Hands collects data from many different sources, including the hospital’s clinical surveillance system, and reports its findings to the hospital so they can make informed decisions about workflow, staffing, and policy. Big data is on the rise, and hospitals need the infrastructure to make data actionable. Data is a powerful tool, but only if it’s broken down into useful pieces.

COVID-19 has shaped the way hospitals provide patient care. An increase in staff shortages means hospitals need to be prepared for nurse burnout and have a plan in place for supporting their staff. With an emphasis on value-based care, hospitals are going to have to perform well on the Leapfrog survey, and with big data making its way into healthcare a little more every day, hospitals need to find ways to put the data to use to stay ahead of the curve. Clean Hands – Safe Hands has the technology to improve nurse burnout, help the facility pass Leapfrog with flying colors, and provide actionable analytics to its customers. To inquire about state-of-the-art technology in your facility, contact Clean Hands – Safe Hands.  

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