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The huge influx of coronavirus patients into hospitals around the world has caused problems at all levels: among medical staff who are on the front line, in the various procedures and, last but not least, at the financial level. The current situation obscures the fact that staffing levels in hospitals are suboptimal, process logistics are not developing at the right pace and home monitoring devices are only used to a limited extent. Ben Jansen, General Director of Dehora Consultancy Group, talks about how hospitals can manage their time more intelligently.
Time does more harm than good
Currently, time plays an increasingly dominant and at the same time negative role in hospitals. Factors worth mentioning include long waiting times due to insufficient staffing and often poor planning; problems with patient flow because appointments are not scheduled one after the other (in groups); lack of interest in the patient because medical staff simply do not have the time; limited availability of clinics in the evening and at weekends; as well as exorbitant costs due to capital-intensive infrastructure that is not fully utilised.
The above examples are only a small part of the issue. Indeed, medical staff also have their own ‘time issues’. Here are some examples:
- the often long and irregular working hours, which are not optimally organised, largely due to the perception of the medical profession as a vocation;
- the dangerous situations that arise as a result;
- meticulously scheduled patient appointments, which often feel like a race against time;
- high work pressure, which prevents real contact with patients.
This list (which is by no means exhaustive) leads us to conclude that many hospitals have poor or suboptimal time management. Our conclusion is that they have a low time intelligence ratio. However, with an eye on their future, they can and must improve this – states Ben Jansen, General Director of Dehora Consultancy Group.
Patient and their experience the starting point for time intelligence in hospitals?
The concept of time intelligent hospital starts from several important assumptions. One of them is that everything in the hospital centres around the patient experience. An experience that should make patients forget about time as much as possible. Of course, quality of care and keeping overheads under control are key.
Unlike traditional hospitals, hospitals of the future will actively focus on a positive (mood-enhancing) patient experience. This can be achieved by positively influencing the senses with pleasant and soothing décor, attractive media offerings, etc. Emphasis is also placed on the human dimension. Whereas hospitals in the past have focused on limiting time (that spent in hospital, during consultations and during treatment), the hospital is focusing on giving the right amount of time that is necessary to ensure a positive patient experience – emphasises Ben Jansen.
Increased efficiency of medical staff in hospitals
Another feature of the time intelligent hospital concept is the positive perception of time by medical staff. It is crucial that medical staff can put an end to excessive workloads by working in harmony with their own biological clock. Both medics and patients will benefit from this. Medical staff could, for example, work the hours that best suit their biological clocks, while taking sufficient breaks. This will contribute significantly to the enthusiasm with which they perform their work, as well as to the quality and safety of the services provided.
Taking these points into account, a time-smart hospital will need to be like a well-oiled machine with the right equipment and excellent planning and logistics. At the same time, the effective functioning of the hospital must be largely hidden from the patient. The patient should experience above all the warm and caring side of the hospital – explains Jansen, General Director of Dehora.
Another starting point of the time intelligent hospital concept is that the hospital does what needs to be done in the hospital, and outsources what can be done outside. It will therefore make optimal use of modern technology. In addition to several other benefits, the medical staff receives more freedom to plan their daily work.