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TECHNOLOGY

Healthcare providers will see these 4 trends in 2021

By Dave Klumpe bio

The ongoing pandemic continues to influence technology trends in the healthcare landscape, accelerating changes and, in some cases, exacerbating challenges the industry has wrestled with for years. In the best of times, managing the many thousands of clinical devices in a health system’s portfolio could be an uphill battle. During the pandemic, the importance of medical device availability and reliability has increased exponentially.

Some systems were better prepared than others to handle the tremendous pressures of the past 12 months, and all have had to endure difficult circumstances, whether they had sufficient technology support for clinical asset management or not. As I look at what’s coming for the rest of 2021 (and beyond), here are a few healthcare technology trends providers will need to be mindful of throughout their planning efforts.

  1. Clinical asset management will remain a high priority for health systems

COVID-19 has brought hospital equipment availability and patient capacity into the national spotlight in a way few could have predicted a year ago. Many systems have been forced to scramble to get a better picture of the thousands of pieces of life-saving medical equipment under their roofs. As these health systems continue to face increased financial and clinical pressures in 2021, leaders will be under greater scrutiny to answer the questions: How much inventory do we have? How much do we need? Is it in the right location to deliver patient care? And can we prove it?

2. Procedures will continue to move to non-acute settings

The healthcare industry will continue to expect greater data accuracy and reliability from clinical assets. This is becoming more important due to the trend we’re already seeing in which more procedures are moving to smaller, non-acute settings and more devices are going home with patients post-procedure. As a healthcare provider’s footprint gets bigger, it’s highly unlikely to have dedicated teams servicing devices in every non-acute setting—but these devices still need to be monitored. The technology for remote monitoring and diagnostics is already here, and it’s going to be critical, given that patients and devices are spread across so many locations.

3. Mobile medical equipment availability and cleanliness will be held to higher standards

Unfortunately, equipment availability and cleanliness have taken a back seat to other issues such as productivity and budget constraints in the last decade. However, the onslaught of the pandemic forced these issues into the spotlight as nurses and other hospital staff struggled to track, locate and properly clean mobile medical equipment like IV pumps and enteral feeding pumps that comprise 90% of all clinical assets. In 2021, health systems will be held to new standards for equipment availability and cleanliness to improve staff efficiency and patient safety.

4. Connected devices will draw greater attention to the network

Security will be top of mind for healthcare executives as systems continue to bring on more connected devices from different manufacturers, running various operating systems and deployed throughout any number of facilities. With nearly 70% of medical devices expected to be network-connected by 2025, the next few years will force healthcare providers to enhance existing or implement new best practices in cyber. Providers must do everything possible to secure electronic protected health information and, most importantly, ensure patient safety.

Conclusion

The pace of change in healthcare technology is only increasing. No industry has been invulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, but healthcare providers have been at the very center of the crisis. As the landscape continues to shift, providers will need to stay on top of these technology trends to ensure patient safety and reliable care.

 


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