Why Chief Clinical Officer is a Crucial Role in the Future of Healthcare

Smart technology has become indispensable in many infrastructures. Our homes and cities - even our roads and sidewalks - along with many public facilities are “connected” and designed with IoT (Internet of things) capabilities in mind. Another place where technology has become a requisite is within healthcare. Hospitals have incorporated interactive patient platforms, touch-screens, wearable and telehealth devices, robots and other impressive tools, and the smart hospital market could exceed $63 billion by 2024.

Progress and smarter solutions are most frequently a step in the right direction. However, when it comes to the patient experience, it’s key to understand the “why” behind each tool implemented. After all, a truly smart hospital is more complex in nature than just a facility with advanced technology - ideally, it’s designed, constructed, realized and operated with the patient’s needs in mind.

CCOs help create a better patient experience

How can we create hospitals that enable a better patient experience? It includes examining our choices in patient rooms, surgery centers, visiting areas, lobbies, restrooms, showers, hospital beds, medicine delivery and more. With a plethora of high-tech options at our fingertips, health systems must ensure that every part of a hospital ultimately serves the patient - and allows care teams to succeed. The latest and greatest equipment might be important, but if not leveraged properly to provide the best care to patients, it is essentially useless. To close this gap, we need to build bridges and promote knowledge sharing between the innovators and the care teams themselves. That’s exactly where Chief Clinical Officers come in.

With over two decades of experience in patient care, I’ve gained a unique blend of awareness and understanding from both sides of the equation. I spent years as a nurse alongside patients, families and providers and now help guide innovative projects that are implemented to support these groups and overhaul the delivery of care. At EIR Healthcare, we’re bringing modular innovation and efficient industrial practices to healthcare, creating a patient-centric hospital starting with patient rooms. As CCO, I help our partner health systems make the right design decisions based on what’s best for both the patient and the providers that care for them. As our industry delves further and further into the possibilities of smart technology, this role will become increasingly crucial to the future of healthcare.

Treating the whole patient

The patient experience spans physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health for patients and their families. No patient wants to be in a hospital, so the environment should be created to help alleviate stress, make patients more comfortable and keep them engaged in their treatment plans - all of which improve patient outcomes. Technology provides a toolkit that enables a better experience, but it takes an intuitive, patient-centric design and the right mindset to truly help care teams see it through in practice.

Consider the capabilities of a simple touch-screen patient engagement device. These bedside monitors and tablets can be used by physicians to better educate patients via health records, studies, and scans - this level of patient engagement with their treatment has demonstrated an improvement in outcomes. At a simpler level, the devices can be used for the patient to order a meal and control room settings. Think more holistically, though - it can also be utilized to video chat with a long-distance family member, or even to include them in an important treatment decision. If we don’t leverage available technology to support patient engagement and the treatment plan on several levels, it’s a huge miss for hospitals.

Plus, feedback structures such as HCAHPS scores consider success and provide reimbursements partly based on the patient’s perception of the care provided. Hospitals that make patient engagement a priority are more likely to make employee engagement a priority, as well. It encourages a complete transformation of the culture of the hospital, creating a workplace where employees feel valued and patients feel cared for.

Making safety the #1 priority

The best way to help patients is to enhance safety and send them home healthy and on track for a successful recovery. In reviewing a healthcare system’s needs, we account for the baseline features within the design and determine what else should be integrated to improve safety and patient infection control. Advanced design features can reduce the rate of hospital-acquired infections - these include building with antimicrobial surfaces, touchless sinks, toilets and doors, and replacements for outdated and unsanitary fabric curtains. A small sink can be installed next to each patient room entrance in the hallway for care teams to use before seeing one patient and before leaving to see the next. These seemingly small details have an enormous impact on counteracting the spread of common hospital germs and bacteria.

Patient safety concerns such as falls are another significant roadblock in positive health outcomes. Thankfully, intuitive, evidence-based design principles can be quite effective in preventing such accidents, as well. Our intelligent hospital room, MedModular, is built around these safety features. For instance, a grab bar system helps patients physically ambulate around the room, to the bathroom and back, featuring a bathroom door which has a handle on both sides that can support the patient as they move from room to room.

Recognizing when and what technology will be a game-changer

I’ve been fortunate to work for several different health systems throughout my career, all focused on treating the whole patient. This holistic approach was a core value among the nursing communities within each hospital. Talk to the patient about their life. Provide distractions. Check in with their family members. As I transitioned into nursing leadership, I continued to communicate with patients and families directly about their experience so I could understand how it could be improved. This informed me as to how our care teams functioned, and often shifted, opening up a dialogue about how we could better serve patients.

When I was introduced to the mission at EIR Healthcare, I realized the team here was equally dedicated to building a better patient experience. The emphasis placed on this is witnessed in everything they do, and it’s what drew me to come on board. I’ve always felt a responsibility to improve the lives of patients, families, nurses and care teams. This has been my biggest motivation and it guides me in how I support health systems today. With modular construction, smarter hospitals that once seemed a far-off future state are happening right now - built around the patient experience and reinventing the delivery of care. What’s more, our clients can open hospitals around 30 to 40 percent faster than the industry standard. This means offering more care options like micro-hospitals and urgent care centers, replacing a hospital that was destroyed in a natural disaster, building better care facilities in underserved and rural areas and so much more.

Every healthcare company offering a solution to make hospitals more intelligent should be cognizant of whether they’re effectively creating patient-centric products and care models. Our advice is to seek the help of a CCO or other trusted health advisor that can cater to such needs. As a nurse, I was in a position to recognize areas of the patient experience that needed help and attention, through innovation and creativity. Now, as a CCO, I have the ability to help create an improved patient experience, starting from square one in designing and developing a smarter hospital.

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