Why Hospitals Are Linking Business Continuity to Improved Patient Satisfaction

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According to the World Health Organization, the population of humans over the age of 60 years will nearly triple by the year 2050.  As a result, hospitals will be required to step up to the challenge of processing more patients while improving levels of patient satisfaction.

Research has shown that patient satisfaction is very closely linked to the environment that surrounds the patient. A hospital “environment” consists of both human interaction (e.g., with doctors, nurses, specialists, volunteers, visitors) and physical infrastructure elements such as lighting, noise levels, temperature, air quality, and space.

Oftentimes disruptions to a peaceful, recuperative environment are magnified in the eyes of a patient. Think about how taxing it is if you are running a fever and, at the same time are stuck in a hot, stuffy, poorly ventilated room that you can’t control. Or, how even the smallest distraction seems to cause you a high level of irritation and displeasure when you are in a state of illness or pain.

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Control of the environment and new levels of connectivity

Much of what it takes to create a patient-friendly hospital environment is hidden behind the scenes.  Sophisticated tools like building management systems, for instance, and digitized “internet of things” networks allow the hospital environment to adjust on the fly, oftentimes allowing for individualized control down to the level of the patient room, in order to assure patient comfort and safety. Sensors within the rooms gather an abundance of comfort, safety, and energy consumption data.  Then building analytics software converts that data into actionable intelligence that improves the energy efficiency performance of the facility and boosts patient satisfaction.

All of these digitization technologies, although they boost the level of patient comfort, rely on physical systems that are constantly up and running and always available.  This is why uptime, and the related concept of business continuity, are so important to the health and well-being of both the hospital enterprise itself and the patients within.

In order to make a patient’s stay more convenient, hospitals are aggressively embracing multiple forms of digitization. Admissions forms, for example, are no longer hand written and x-ray results are no longer viewed on film. Information is automated in digital data format. The challenge is to manage the resulting influx of “big data,” so that the staff can interact with technology to make the best and most timely decisions for patient treatment.

The advanced digitization is also changing the way hospitals administer their healthcare. Consider the example of a local doctor who cannot solve a medical problem without the help of a specialist at a large metropolitan medical center located thousands of miles away. Connected technologies allow the specialist to “see” the patient virtually via diagnostic imaging devices connected to the Internet, and ensure the patient gets proper care. For this level of sophisticated communications to work properly, a whole chain of elements has to interact flawlessly from one end to the other, and everything depends on power infrastructure. If any link breaks, that screen goes blank.

Uptime now more important than ever

As hospitals migrate to more and more digitization of their processes, the uptime of services surrounding patient comfort and well-being become critically important.  In fact, systems uptime and the related topic of business continuity not only impact patients but also the profitability of the hospital enterprise.  Healthcare facilities have experienced hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue from cancelled services, legal liability, and damaged reputations as a result of unanticipated downtime.

This very topic of healthcare business continuity is examined in a recently- published resource document entitled “A Practical Guide to Ensuring Business Continuity and High Performance in Healthcare Facilities”.  This e-guide reviews healthcare industry business continuity best practices and addresses topics that currently pose cost and service quality challenges to hospitals, clinics, and laboratories. The first chapter examines the emerging relationship between business continuity and patient comfort and safety.

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