Health+Tech | Technology and bed management for an efficient admission system
Hospital admissions for Jamaica have been traditionally high, especially with the level of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among our population. Often, there is a bottleneck in accident and emergency departments, with patients sleeping in chairs and, in some cases, in stretchers, as they wait for an available bed to be identified. This is a major issue for us because our hospitals are always operating at peak levels, especially in the accident and emergency departments.
In emergencies, the classification of our hospitals, which determines the level of resources that they are afforded, sometimes require patients to be transferred from one to another across parishes. Recent reports and increases in our COVID-19 pandemic numbers have brought this issue to the fore, with our admission levels steadily increasing as we continue to see new cases each day coupled with our still high levels of NCDs, motor vehicle accidents and other illnesses.
The efficiency of the coordination of hospital admissions, especially in cases of dire emergencies, can be the difference between life and death. Therefore, there is an urgent need to put in place systems to more efficiently and effectively manage not only admissions but also the overall monitoring and care of inpatients. This is why embracing technology in this aspect of hospital administration can result in great improvement for both patient and facility.
Real-time bed management, using a hospital information management system, is one way to achieve this. An assessment of the overall performance of a hospital has to include the manner in which beds are allocated and managed. Bed management involves constantly monitoring admissions and discharges, as well as patient flow within the facility to ensure that persons are placed in the areas that are best suited for their care. An electronic bed management system also allows hospital administrators to be able to quickly identify available beds across all the wards within the facility.
Such a system involves a spatial layout of hospital wards which accounts for each bed in the facility. When a bed is occupied, it is populated with the specific patient’s information and health records so that doctors and other authorised caregivers can access on their electronic devices, including personal computers and tablets.
The bed management system allows the administrators to make real-time changes once occupancy is affected or a patient is transferred within a facility or to another facility. In addition, nurses can use this system to assist in organising their daily rounds and constantly monitor each patient in a quick and efficient way.
Identifying trends in hospital admission can also allow governments to better plan and determine the resources that each hospital will require to best serve the needs of patients. The electronic data is easily retrievable and will be more accurate than having to go through paper files to collate the information.
This data can be used against the social determinants of health and individual patient electronic health records to put in place specific interventions for certain groups and communities, as well as persons who may have certain illnesses, such as diabetes. For example, if admissions for diabetes mostly result in amputations of a certain limb, interventions can centre around education and prevention strategies to counter this problem.
An electronic bed management system has many other advantages. It can, for example, counter several of the problems that we now experience in our hospitals, the very basic of which include knowing immediately when a bed is vacant or being prepared for a patient, and the status of and potential occupancy period of others.
It will assist in the overflow and bottleneck issues resulting from incomplete information on available beds, as well as improved admission times for emergency and surgical patients.
An electronic bed management system will assist with critical decision-making and evidenced-based planning in the healthcare sector. It will also help hospital administrators to quickly and easily identify vacancies among each facility so quick, easy, accurate and informed decisions can be made, especially in relation to emergencies to improve patient care.
Efficient bed management can also result in economic improvements as well as organisational trust, which is essential for the success of any health facility.