Healthcare Operations



Operational complexity in healthcare: Aligning stakeholders and technologies

To achieve optimal results, technology needs to fully support all healthcare stakeholders, according to this deep dive into the recent symplr Compass Survey and Report.

In the evolving landscape of healthcare technology, the symplr Compass Survey and Report offers insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by healthcare professionals.

A recent interview with Mary Beth Kingston, executive vice president and chief nursing officer for Advocate Aurora Health, and Karlene Kerfoot, chief nursing officer for symplr, facilitated by Mitchell Josephson, CEO for Health Data Management, sheds light on critical issues like technology overload, nurse burnout and the quest for efficient healthcare systems.

The burden of technology

One of the main themes discussed is the overwhelming presence of technology in healthcare. Josephson terms this phenomenon as "tech bloat," where an excess of software and systems complicates rather than simplifies healthcare delivery.

Kerfoot and Kingston echoed this sentiment, emphasizing how this technology overload is adversely affecting clinicians, leading to burnout and frustration. Kingston remarks, "Nurses at the point of care ... are frustrated with adding technology into an existing workflow which just creates a lot of frustration."

The impact of the pandemic and burnout

The pandemic has amplified these challenges, bringing to the forefront issues like staff burnout and turnover, the participants said.

Kerfoot observes, “Last year, financial issues were the biggest threat. This year, it's burnout, turnovers, that people stuff.” Kingston adds that apart from financial stress, workplace violence and the lingering effects of the pandemic have exacerbated the situation.

The disconnect between IT and clinicians

A significant point of discussion was the disconnect between IT departments and clinical staff. The research indicates a disparity in perceptions and needs, leading to inefficient systems.

Kerfoot stresses the need for communication, suggesting, "We need to get people talking to each other.” Kingston suggests a governance structure in which all disciplines are represented, ensuring technology decisions consider the impact on end users.

Finding solutions in integrated systems

Both interviewees agree on the necessity of integrated, user-friendly systems. Kerfoot notes, “Technology should be an enabler, not a system that holds you back.”

The discussion points towards the need for systems that communicate effectively with each other, reducing manual processes and enhancing patient care.

The role of leadership in digital transformation

A key takeaway is the role of leadership in guiding digital transformation.

Kerfoot asserts the importance of continuous learning for chief nursing officers, emphasizing, "The future is digital transformation ... we need leaders competent to sit at the table with people making all kinds of decisions."

The symplr Compass Research highlights a critical juncture in healthcare technology. As Josephson, Kerfoot and Kingston discuss, the path forward lies in simplifying and integrating technology, enhancing communication between departments and focusing leadership on digital competence. Their insights provide a roadmap for balancing technological advancement with the human element of healthcare.

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