Medical robots can take vital signs but cost tens of thousands of dollars. Insurance doesn’t cover costly VR goggles that enable remote interactions between patients and physical therapists. We have to ask ourselves: Will these technologies ever actually take hold? Will they become scalable and cost-effective for providers, and will they help clinicians become more productive? There’s clearly potential in new technologies, but is it enough to transform the clinical workforce as we know it? And if so, how long until we make a dent in the dire national clinician shortage?
My upcoming research aims to answer these questions by separating the shiny and new, but ineffective, technologies from the ones that are most likely to help clinicians. Workforce automation and augmentation is a good thing, something for which leaders of provider organizations need to prepare.
Ahead of publishing my findings, I wanted to give you a sneak peek into three critical steps that will help you get started.
First Step: Embed Clinician Input Into Your Process
If you expect to augment the clinician workforce with technology, then you must include clinicians every step of the way. As a nurse, I have carried a smartphone encased in a heavy battery pack for 12-hour shifts (often until my hips began to ache). Is it any wonder I would leave it behind in a patient’s room? When clinicians are not included in the selection process, the tech fails and they stop using it. Once clinicians realize the benefits of technology, they will gladly adopt it.
Second Step: Know Your Baseline And Set Goals
Before investing resources and implementing change, know your baseline metrics and set goals. What do you aim to fix, improve, or even replace? Determine the outcomes that you want to achieve and how to measure these outcomes. Your goals should include leveraging your technology investment to increase productivity at scale, and your metrics should reflect this. Pro tip: Tie your outcomes to business metrics — the key to getting executives on board. Point to how these changes will alleviate the clinician shortage and the costly effects of hemorrhaging skilled, experienced practitioners.
Third Step: Revisit And Refine
Anticipate revisiting and refining your clinicians’ experiences with technology. Vet thoroughly up front and beta-test to prevent costly setbacks downstream, but be prepared to pivot when clinicians provide negative feedback. Roll solutions out in phases and let clinicians who have seen the results champion the changes to others. This strategy has proven effective in getting clinician buy-in.
Over the next two months, I will be conducting interviews with healthcare providers, clinical workforce technology vendors and consultants, and clinicians. If you are involved in the buy, sell, or use side of clinical workforce technology, please send me an email. I would love to chat!