By Steve Merritt, Senior Solutions Director
Multi-purpose tools are useful things. There’s a reason why the Swiss Army knife has been popular for more than 130 years. It’s simple, compact, easy to use and performs multiple tasks.
Contrast that with the average clinician’s digital toolbox crammed with single-purpose tools, multiple devices and incompatible applications and processes. Though intended to make clinicians more effective, this jumble has become partly responsible for the frustration and burnout causing healthcare workers to quit in record numbers.
This proliferation of tools is caused when healthcare systems pursue narrow solutions rather than comprehensive, integrated ones. It’s easy for healthcare systems and individual departments to add software to address a particular problem, often without consideration for how well it will integrate with existing systems or whether it can be scaled beyond its original purpose. Sometimes, software is added without consulting the IT department, which must deal with the resulting issues of scalability, maintenance, and compatibility.
The result can be a tangle of legacy IT systems in which it’s difficult to upgrade one without affecting the operations of another.
At Pixel Health, we favor Swiss Army knife solutions when evaluating clients’ IT needs and capabilities or assisting in the merger of two healthcare systems.
When I work with a client, my primary goal is to improve the capacities and capabilities of the tools they have, such as their EMR. It’s already installed and familiar to clinicians, which makes it easier to work with than introducing a new tool.
If the tools in place cannot be used, then I consider solutions available in the marketplace, making sure the provider has a track record of success in the healthcare IT industry.
Custom software development is the last resort. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and often difficult to scale beyond the problem it’s designed to solve.
Whatever the solution, it must be chosen and designed with the end user in mind, whether it’s a nurse, therapist, or other clinical staff. The fewer tools they need to perform their job quickly and effectively, the better. Our team of clinical and technology experts fosters the collaboration needed to select the best tools to provide them the right information at the right time and in the right place, then allow them to easily act on that information.
Lastly, no matter how much thought and preparation go into its design, the ultimate test of a tool is how often and how well it’s used. Any new system should be measured for performance, use and results. That is the best way to identify the Swiss Army knives and keep the clinician’s toolbox simple, uncluttered, and effective.