Healthcare systems all over the world have been disrupted and reshaped in response to COVID-19. Australian hospitals have adapted rapidly to the situation, and did an excellent job in containing the virus. As of 2021, Australia’s COVID death rate is estimated to be 10 times lower than its proportion of the global population.
Although the governments attempted to minimise disruption, the tightened measures have created a noticeable difference in our experiences within the hospital setting, setting the industry for a New Normal to emerge.
In the following, we will explore what the emerging trends are and what it means for Australian hospitals.
Emerging trends in the healthcare industry and what it means for Australian hospitals
We have come to terms that we will probably live with COVID-19 and its endless forms of variations. Moving forward, this has an impact on healthcare organisations and the way they operate. There are 4 key trends we’ll be exploring:
- Health check-ups
- Patient-centric care
- Software adoption
According to the Minister of Health and Aged Care, “many of us haven’t prioritised other areas of our health” given “the heavy focus on COVID-19 for the past two years”.
COVID-19 has also made health check-ups a more compulsory action in the present-day. It was observed COVID-19-positive individuals who have underlying conditions such as diabetes, cancer or history of cancer, may experience more severe symptoms. Other conditions (which are non-exhaustive) can also result in greater complications associated with COVID-19.
As such, the Australian government is calling for Australians to prioritise health check-ups, which may lead to increased demand for a seamless check-up process
Generally the consulting process begins with the registration, moves on to the consultation, and lastly, it ends with a patient leaving the hospital premises.
Given all hospitals have similar standard procedures, a more refined patient’s journey would be the next avenue for hospitals to compete on. Hospitals with the ability to create a more efficient process are more likely to obtain a competitive advantage beyond diagnostic accuracy and service levels.
We used to think face-to-face interaction would remain the default for healthcare services. However, COVID-19 has proved us wrong. In the past 2 years, we have witnessed the acceleration of digital usage in the healthcare sector.
Through digitalisation, we simultaneously experienced greater convenience and the reduction of virus exposure. Now that we are familiar with the benefits of digitalising, we crave for more.
Here are some areas Australian hospitals can digitalise processes and increase efficiency.
Area 1: telehealth
During the pandemic, telehealth has emerged as an alternative method to physical consultation. Patients could either conduct their consultation assessment over the phone or through virtual meetings. We also commonly address telehealth as remote consultation.
Tele consultation is structured in a way to provide both doctors and patients with improved convenience, efficiency, and most importantly, remoteness.
Prior to the remote consultation, patients can book their preferred slot via a booking system. Through this format, potential patients can have a glance of the doctor’s availability, and make amendments easily. Hence it provides doctors and patients with greater flexibility and convenience. Furthermore, it reduces the need for one to travel down to the hospital premise.
Pros and cons of telehealth
By cutting down on travelling time, doctors can have longer consultations per patient, and increase their consultation frequencies within the day. As such, it increases doctors’ capacity to attend to patients.
The next benefit of telehealth is the element of remoteness, which is a double-edged sword. Apart from reducing the risk of virus transmission, it can be a highlight for patients who are not keen on making their way through the hospitals for appointments.
Additionally, consultations are no longer confined to the hospital’s walls. This is a plus point for patients who do not have access to healthcare services previously.
However, remote consultation has its downsides. The lack of interaction makes it harder for doctors to make medical judgement as the doctor’s vision is limited to the screen size. Patients may also find it difficult to clearly convey their symptoms.
Despite these challenges, telehealth is steadily surfacing as an alternative method to physical consultations. This is in view of the increased convenience and efficiency provided. Therefore, Australian hospitals should equip themselves with the appropriate procedures and software for such forms of consultation.
Area 2: patient-centric care
In this digital age, consumers are more likely to form judgements when they have greater access to information. This trend is coined as consumer empowerment.
We also witness such a trend in the healthcare industry. For instance, there is a rising number of people wearing wearable technology to monitor their health conditions. This results in consumers taking up greater ownership and accountability for their health. At the same time, consumer scepticism grows when information presented to them is not self-derived .
Such a trend affects Australian hospitals operation’s model, where it places greater emphasis on patient-centricity.
Benefits of patient-centric care
So what does it mean for hospitals to be patient-centric? Implementing patient-centric care is all about involving patients and their family during treatment decision making. Besides patient involvement, it is also about creating a great patient experience.
To successfully establish a patient-centred approach, Australian hospitals may adopt a more proactive form of communications with patients.
Through active communications, doctors can present their diagnosis to the patients in a comprehensible manner. Moreover, patients can also seek for clarification if they are unsure about what was conveyed to them. This simple action of two-way communication can help to reduce medical error, and improve patient’s health outcomes.
Implementing a patient-centred approach in hospitals is challenging without the involvement of stakeholders such as the healthcare community and government. They play a crucial role in creating policies to promote and support patient-centred care.
For instance, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare has outlined key dimensions of patient-centred care to guide Australian hospitals implementation.
With the support of the various stakeholders, Australian hospitals can have a more meaningful interaction with their patients via the patient-centric approach. This contributes to a better patient experience and medical outcomes, allowing hospitals to have a better standing in the industry.
Area 3: software adoption
COVID-19 has highlighted the need for software adoption. Despite the increase in demand for care, hospitals are experiencing understaffing and labour shortages.
To tackle such a challenge, Australian hospitals are adopting technologies to increase their efficiency and productivity such as visitor management systems. Not only does it significantly reduce the cost of hiring administrative manpower in the long run, however it also decreases waiting time while minimising close contact.
Besides increasing efficiency with limited staff personnel, hospitals can improve their security system through software. Adopting these technologies indicates a hospital’s commitment to protect patients’ and visitors’ physical and data security.
Furthermore, Australia’s healthcare is slowly but surely pivoting into the digital realm as the “future of health is digital”.
Therefore, it is essential for Australian hospitals to equip themselves with the proper software for the digital future.
How can Zipline help?
Digitalising process is tricky, and you may have questions such as:
- What processes to digitalise?
- How should I go about kick starting this massive digital transformation?
- Who should I approach?
Zipline is here to help you overcome this stressful situation.
We aim to help Australian hospitals streamline digital experiences with our end-to-end visitor management and compliance platform.
First time visitors may find it difficult to navigate their way in a large hospital premise. As such, they rely on direction arrows to get to where they want. However, the complexity of the hospital system often resulted in a patient, visitor or contractor missing their allocated timeslot.
From the hospitals’ perspective, the large foot traffic makes tracking difficult. It becomes hard for hospitals to have an overview of who is on-site, and whether these people are in the authorised zone.
To resolve these issues, Australian hospitals can adopt Zipline Digital Wayfinding.
Our Digital Wayfinding can digitally guide patients, visitors and contractors through the hospital to their desired destination. This means no more confusing arrows and it reduces the chance of a visitor getting lost in the hospital.
By linking to check-ins and screening process, the Wayfinding function creates a seamless visiting experience. This removes the need for additional staff to manage wayfinding.
Apart from helping your hospital reduce administrative staffing, your staff can enjoy up to 4 hours back in their day which was previously spent on visitor management.
With this one-stop solution, Australian hospitals can ensure non-staff members are not within the hospital compound after the designated hours. They can also effortlessly identify visitors and conduct necessary measures to contain the spread of a virus.
Through our Digital Wayfinding, hospitals can provide a better visiting experience, increase security, and minimise disruption and flow for staff. What’s more, Zipline Digital Wayfinding allows hospitals to step up their game plan for a more refined patient-centric care.
Queuing is one of the most frustrating and stressful experiences, yet it is very common in a hospital setting. Patients can easily spend more than an hour in the queue with the need to be on a constant lookout for their turn.
Having a long waiting hour could mean losing time spent on meaningful tasks and interactions. Moreover, imagine having to queue right from the very beginning because you miss your turn. Such negative sentiments can adversely affect a patient-centred care outcome.
By empowering patients to self-serve with Zipline Digital Queuing, Australian hospitals can provide patients with real-time updates of position in queue and movement. As such, Digital Queuing provides patients with the freedom to roam around the compound and head back to the waiting area when it is closer to their turn.
The Digital Queuing allows hospitals to triage and provide priority queuing for those who need urgent treatment. Hospitals can also have a better understanding of how many patients are awaiting consultation and hence, allocate their manpower accordingly.
Patient-centric care is all about providing good services beyond medical consultations. Given a patient’s journey typically starts from queuing, it is therefore paramount to create an effective queuing system and form a good impression right from the beginning.
With the future of Australia’s healthcare system revolving around digitisation, it is critical for Australian hospitals to incorporate digital aspects into their operations.
Not only does digitisation increase efficiency, it also helps hospitals cope with the surge in demand from the emerging health check-up trend.
We understand it is challenging to take the first step, which is why Zipline is here to provide hospitals with support. With Zipline’s experience of working with over thousands of hospitals like yours, we are equipped with the necessary knowledge on how we can support you.
Chat with us to find out more about our software and what we can do for you.