May 17, 2020

Healthcare CIOs Seem Reluctant To Join Social Networks

healthcare CIO
Social Media
social media channels
3 min
Healthcare CIOs Have Been Reluctant To Go Social
A recent report published on the Huffington Post highlighted that healthcare CIOs seem reluctant to join social media networks. While researching the T...

A recent report published on the Huffington Post highlighted that healthcare CIOs seem reluctant to join social media networks. While researching the Top 70 Social CIOs, CMO and Chief Customer Officer at Enterasys Networks, Vala Afshar discovered that there was just one healthcare CIO in the top 10 and an overall total of just five in the top 70. “The voice of the health care CIO is largely absent in social media,” stated Afshar.

In a recent study that looked into mobile and social technologies in healthcare, it was noted that 90 percent of people aged between 18 and 24 said they would trust health information they found on social media channels. Furthermore, the report suggests that one in two adults use their smartphone to look up health information. The study also found that more than one in four hospitals have a social media presence and a huge 60 percent of doctors believe social media improved the quality of patient care.

Social media networks have the ability to enhance patient care, and already we are seeing far more social interactions between healthcare providers and patients. So why are CIOs digging their heels in when it comes to joining social media networks?

CIOs are responsible for building and maintaining an online healthcare ecosystem; an ecosystem they encourage patients and healthcare professionals to utilise and engage with. The steady uptake of mobile devices in hospital environments also means that healthcare is moving into the online arena.

To date, CIOs may have been reluctant to join the discussion for a number of reasons – patient confidentiality, lack of understanding, belief they will not reach the right audience to name a few. However, today the social sphere is changing and a number of players in the industry are providing professionals with more platforms on which to engage. Last month we wrote an article about the Top Social Networks For Healthcare Professionals, which showcased networks such as Businessfriend and MyMedPort that offer social networks where healthcare professionals can engage with a specific audience. At Healthcare Global we feel that healthcare professionals and CIOs will turn their backs on ‘mainstream’ social networks and opt for more specific platforms where they can engage on a professional level with other players in the industry.


More targeted social media channels encourage CIOs to engage online

The healthcare CIO should be an innovator when it comes to engaging with patients and healthcare professionals online – and more targeted social media networks will enable them to foster meaningful communications between other professionals, thus improving patient care.

Today, many doctors are looking to use social media to not only communicate with patients, but also as a platform to keep up to date with the latest trends and stay informed about developments in the industry. Healthcare is an ever-changing sector and therefore professional social media channels can help doctors share information with one-another, thus improving patient care.

By keeping patients healthy, as opposed to just treating illness, doctors can lead the way for changing how our health care system is utilized and thus reducing the cost of care. However, if health care IT is not a leading voice for the very tools the physicians are using to reach their audience, there is no way to be a pioneer for enabling this communication.

Traditionally, the health care CIO has been pivotal in leading the way for leveraging technology to better patient care and safety. What appears to be a slow adoption of social media for the health care CIO is worth understanding.

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Jun 11, 2021

How UiPath robots are helping with the NHS backlog

6 min
UiPath software robots are helping clinicians at Dublin's Mater Hospital save valuable time

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many hospitals to have logistical nightmares, as backlogs of surgeries built up as a result of cancellations. The BMJ has estimated it will take the UK's National Health Service (NHS) a year and a half to recover

However software robots can help, by automating computer-based processes such as replenishing inventory, managing patient bookings, and digitising patient files. Mark O’Connor, Public Sector Director for Ireland at UiPath, tells us how they deployed robots at Mater Hospital in Dublin, saving clinicians valuable time. 

When Did Mater Hospital implement the software robots - was it specifically to address the challenges of the pandemic? 
The need for automation at Mater Hospital pre-existed the pandemic but it was the onset of COVID-19 that got the team to turn to the technology and start introducing software robots into the workflow of doctors and nurses. 

The pandemic placed an increased administrative strain on the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) department at Mater Hospital in Dublin. To combat the problem and ensure that nurses could spend more time with their patients and less time on admin, the IPC deployed its first software robots in March 2020. 

The IPC at Mater plans to continue using robots to manage data around drug resistant microbes such as MRSA once the COVID-19 crisis subsides. 

What tasks do they perform? 
In the IPC at Mater Hospital, software robots have taken the task of reporting COVID-19 test results. Pre-automation, the process created during the 2003 SARS outbreak required a clinician to log into the laboratory system, extract a disease code and then manually enter the results into a data platform. This was hugely time consuming, taking up to three hours of a nurse’s day. 

UiPath software robots are now responsible for this task. They process the data in a fraction of the time, distributing patient results in minutes and consequently freeing up to 18 hours of each IPC nurse’s time each week, and up to 936 hours over the course of a year. As a result, the healthcare professionals can spend more time caring for their patients and less time on repetitive tasks and admin work. 

Is there any possibility of error with software robots, compared to humans? 
By nature, humans are prone to make mistakes, especially when working under pressure, under strict deadlines and while handling a large volume of data while performing repetitive tasks.  

Once taught the process, software robots, on the other hand, will follow the same steps every time without the risk of the inevitable human error. Simply speaking, robots can perform data-intensive tasks more quickly and accurately than humans can. 

Which members of staff benefit the most, and what can they do with the time saved? 
In the case of Mater Hospital, the IPC unit has adopted a robot for every nurse approach. This means that every nurse in the department has access to a robot to help reduce the burden of their admin work. Rather than spending time entering test results, they can focus on the work that requires their human ingenuity, empathy and skill – taking care of their patients. 

In other sectors, the story is no different. Every job will have some repetitive nature to it. Whether that be a finance department processing thousands of invoices a day or simply having to send one daily email. If a task is repetitive and data-intensive, the chances are that a software robot can help. Just like with the nurses in the IPC, these employees can then focus on handling exceptions and on work that requires decision making or creativity - the work that people enjoy doing. 

How can software robots most benefit healthcare providers both during a pandemic and beyond? 
When the COVID-19 outbreak hit, software robots were deployed to lessen the administrative strain healthcare professionals were facing and give them more time to care for an increased number of patients. With hospitals around the world at capacity, every moment with a patient counted. 

Now, the NHS and other healthcare providers face a huge backlog of routine surgeries and procedures following cancellations during the pandemic. In the UK alone, 5 million people are waiting for treatment and it’s estimated that this could cause 6,400 excess deaths by the end of next year if the problem isn’t rectified.

Many healthcare organisations have now acquired the skills needed to deploy automation, therefore it will be easier for them to build more robots to respond to the backlog going forwards. Software robots that had been processing registrations at COVID test sites, for example, could now be taught how to schedule procedures, process patient details or even manage procurement and recruitment to help streamline the processes associated with the backlog. The possibilities are vast. 

The technology, however, should not be considered a short-term, tactical and reactive solution that can be deployed in times of crisis. Automation has the power to solve systematic problems that healthcare providers face year-round. Hospital managers should consider the wider challenge of dealing with endless repetitive work that saps the energy of professionals and turns attention away from patient care and discuss how investing in a long-term automation project could help alleviate these issues. 

How widely adopted is this technology in healthcare at the moment?
Automation was being used in healthcare around the world before the pandemic, but the COVID-19 outbreak has certainly accelerated the trend.  

Automation’s reach is wide. From the NHS Shared Business Service in the UK to the Cleveland Clinic in the US and healthcare organisations in the likes of Norway, India and Canada, we see a huge range of healthcare providers deploying automation technology. 

Many healthcare providers, however, are still in the early stages of their journeys or are just discovering automation’s potential because of the pandemic. I expect to see the deployment of software robots in healthcare grow over the coming years as its benefits continue to be realised globally. 

How do you see this technology evolving in the future? 
If one thing is certain, it’s that the technology will continue to evolve and grow over time – and I believe there will come a point in time when all processes that can be automated, will be automated. This is known as the fully automated enterprise. 

By joining all automation projects into one enterprise-wide effort, the healthcare industry can tap into the full benefits of the technology. This will involve software robots becoming increasingly intelligent in order to reach and improve more processes. Integrating the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into automation, for example, will allow providers to reach non-rule-based processes too. 

We are already seeing steps towards this being taken by NHS Shared Business Service, for example. The organisation, which provides non-clinical services to around two-thirds of all NHS provider trusts and every clinical commissioning organisation in the UK, is working to create an entire eco-system of robots. It believes that no automation should be looked at in isolation, but rather the technology should stretch across departments and functions. As such, inefficiencies in the care pathway can be significantly reduced, saving healthcare providers a substantial amount of time and money. 

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