Healthcare costs have been continuously rising in the recent past. American healthcare expenditure is expected to reach $4.4 trillion in 2018. That would translate to approximately 20.3% of the total US GDP. It is therefore imperative that hospitals look to cut operational costs in ways that do not adversely affect patient outcomes.
Some of the equipment hospitals can use to reduce their operational budgets include:
Clinical Decision Support Tools
Clinical decision support tools aid in cutting down on unnecessary processes by using data. Hospitals capturing health records electronically and using CDS tools achieve better results than those that don’t. They manage better blood pressure control. And also develop more comprehensive screening programs for cancer patients.
The Veterinary Affairs branch in Indiana saw annual cost savings of $150,000 over the two years they participated in the above study. The integration of its laboratory expert system with its health information management system resulted in reduced cases of redundant testing. This occurred without any reduction in the number of days patients stayed in the hospital. There were also no instances of adverse effects on patients.
When doctors utilize CDS tools during prescription placement the overall effect is one where the hospital cuts its costs. Common mistakes that happen during this phase are more efficiently detected and reduced, leading to significant cost savings.
Picture Archiving and Communication Systems
Picture Archiving and Communication Systems are efficient information management tools for radiology. A good PACS system helps make data available when and where it is needed. Film images used in radiology can physically only be in one place at a time. This limitation presents a problem when more than one physician requires the same images.
Implementing this system substitutes film images with digital ones. Any physician who needs immediate access to the images can do so without having to wait. The ready access enables the making of decisions concerning patient-care within a shorter window of time.
A well-designed system interconnects a network of medical facilities into one network. The same applies to individual institutions that get connected to one network. Once connected it becomes easy and time-saving to access images and associated reports at the same time, from any workstation on the network.
Mobile applications have the capacity to help hospitals cut costs through more efficient deployment of processes. Apps for specific conditions efficiently tackle communication with patients after discharge. They provide a cost-effective way of delivering educational content to patients that can be regularly updated. They also assist patients to track their prescriptions by reminding them when necessary. Considering that 75% of healthcare costs are related to chronic conditions, these apps provide a way to cut down on such expenses.
Lighting Occupancy Sensors
Hospitals spend a lot of their allotted budget resources on electricity. A core utility in constant use throughout the day, any potential cost saving adds up significantly for a medical facility. The average American hospital consumes 27.5 kWh of electricity on average, per square foot.
A particular portion of this consumption is in areas that have fluctuating traffic throughout the day. Using adaptive lighting systems in areas such as stairwells, corridors, transitional areas and hallways helps reduce the overall electricity used. Occupancy sensors employed in these lighting systems ensure that lights dim when there’s no traffic and only turn on when people are in the vicinity. Outdoor motion sensors and lighting provide illumination only when necessary. The adaptive nature of such a system leads to reduced consumption and also helps offset electricity used during peak hours.
Hospitals need to exercise a stringent control of their costs to be sustainable. But this focus on cost efficiency must not come at the expense of better patient outcomes. There is, therefore, a need to marry effective cost practices with an optimum focus on patients. Hospitals need to continuously be on the lookout for new tools they can use to gain more leverage on cost savings.
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