HealthManagement, Volume 20 - Issue 2, 2020

Editorial - Improving Efficiency While Providing the Best Care

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The growth and aging of global populations, the rising levels of chronic disease coupled with escalating costs, growing complexity and inadequate infrastructure is forcing a fundamental re-think of every aspect of healthcare.

Swedish doctors spend on average one working day a week on administrative tasks. The British National Health System estimates that an extra 291,327 operations could be completed every year by improving operating room management. The proportion of inefficient or wasteful public spending in Italy was estimated to be around 19% in 2017.

Finding smarter ways to reduce waste and increase efficiency across healthcare is today’s challenge. The good news is that there is tremendous opportunity to ease the burden of administrative tasks, improve processes and support faster decision-making across Europe.

Take for example X-Ray - the most common method of imaging and the first way of detecting a collapsed lung. It can take radiologists anywhere between two to eight hours to review the scans. But with Critical Care Suite™, a new algorithm built into the X-Ray device, clinicians can be alerted of a potential collapsed lung at the point of care, telling them to urgently review and prioritize the patient.

In MR, the MR Excellence program combines applied intelligence and data-fueled analytics with MR technology to increase productivity and quality in imaging. As a result, a practice in Germany saw up to 30% increase in productivity and increased MR scans from about 120 per week to about 170 per week. Patient wait times for an exam dropped from 6-8 weeks to just 1-2 weeks.

At the hospital level, traffic-control-style Command Centers help address capacity, safety, quality, and wait-time. By constantly pulling in streams of data from multiple hospital systems and using simulation and AI, the Command Center generates predictive analytics to help staff recognize patterns in real-time and predict what will happen in the next 24-48 hours. The first of its kind in Europe was launched in September 2019 in Bradford, UK.

Too often though, important patient data is siloed in different departments, devices, medical records or even hospitals. Storage, access, and use of data are key to unlock the potential in healthcare. National governments are showing the way with encouraging examples: in Germany, the new Digital Supply Act foresees that doctors will soon be able to prescribe digital health apps to patients. In Finland, the Findata initiative is already considered an exemplar for health data governance in Europe with anonymized data and a dedicated clearing authority handling access requests in a GDPR-compliant manner.

I am excited to see the impact that this digital transformation will have. The increased use of advanced data analytics, connected devices, genomics and AI is ushering in a new era with the potential for real breakthroughs in patient outcomes and operational efficiencies across every facet of care. Never before has innovation in healthcare been more digital.

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