Healthcare contains a jumble of jargon and acronyms. (That’s surely the least surprising thing you’ll read today.) But there’s a new term that’s come into vogue lately, and I think it’s really exciting: the “real-time health system.”

What is a real-time health system?

OK, maybe it doesn’t sound amazing at first blush. This definition, coming from Gartner Inc., sheds some light: “The real-time health system (RTHS) is an operational, management and technology paradigm for the next-generation healthcare delivery organization (HDO) — one that acquires and acts on real-time operational intelligence to achieve its business objectives. The RTHS transforms the HDO from a disjointed and reactive enterprise to one that is more efficient, collaborative and predictive.”

It’s that last sentence that gets me. Of course health systems want to be more efficient, collaborative and predictive. Hospitals are notoriously complex operations, and it’s so difficult to make sustainable improvements, especially right now. But! I believe there’s truly a light at the end of this tunnel.

To quote Gartner again: “The RTHS is beginning to facilitate the sharing of work, not just data. Platform-based solutions that bring together operational intelligence, digital automation and people have enabled more efficient care delivery and care coordination workflows.” This perfectly sums up the work we’re doing in intelligent automation with our clients: applying artificial intelligence in everyday workflows inside the health system, and to great results.

Health systems need the right tools to drive lasting impact

I’ve got another thing to add, though. We’ve been talking this way for years – it feels like decades – and there have certainly been ideas, processes and solutions on the market for years that purport to handle what Gartner and I have described above. Some health systems have made it work, often to great success. But, I’d argue, the promises of years past weren’t sustainable for every health system – implementing new workflows and systems has been very resource-intensive, and that doesn’t always fly everywhere. Results may last for a year or so, and then things slowly adjust back to where they were before. It’s not the fault of these health systems; the tools needed to serve them have just not existed until recently.

What’s different, then, is sustainability. It’s possible now to drive lasting operational change across any health system. And I believe that sustainability exists because of the technology we now have at our collective fingertips. Fast, secure, mature, ubiquitous technology is really the key to making the real-time health system work. It takes several forms:

Intelligent automation can respond to health system needs in real time

Cloud computing (not to mention Internet bandwidth) is now mature, secure and cheap. That means entire complex systems can live in the cloud, talk with other systems, and send users what they need to know nearly instantaneously. An entire ecosystem of server hosting and support is no longer needed, freeing up health system IT resources and shifting focus to supporting care teams and managers on the front lines.

The way to make software is a revolution compared to what it was in previous years. Today’s tools and distribution methods allow true agility in creating and updating code. In the hands of phenomenal software engineers, companies like Hospital IQ can listen to health systems’ shifting needs and respond quickly. Not in a year, or a quarter, or even “in the next release” – the creation of software happens faster than ever, which is essential to solving the problems of the real-time health system.

Front line workers can use artificial intelligence in decision-making

Lightweight, secure, smart devices are in everyone’s hands on the front lines. Just think – five or six years ago, most health systems didn’t even officially allow mobile devices like iPads, and it didn’t matter all that much anyway, because very few systems took advantage of them. Now, these devices have become much more mature and have been welcomed by front-line managers and care teams. They’re light enough and fast enough to manage workflows (like real-time discharge management and staffing management) and serve as mobile decision-support platforms.

Lastly, communications technology can be (and needs to be) integrated everywhere. One thing I’ve learned clearly is that managers and care teams need not only the ability to communicate easily, but to communicate easily in context – for example, if a care team is working through a patient’s discharge barriers, the back-and-forth needs to be concise and accessible to all, and members of the care team need to be able to reach each other right inside the course of their normal work. Facilitating this gets the job done while enabling management to see the board clearly and plan for tomorrow’s challenges.

Hospital IQ’s intelligent automation can unlock the real-time health system

This is both a daunting and exciting time to be in healthcare. Using the latest in today’s technology has enabled Hospital IQ to put real-time operational intelligence in the hands of every health system to drive lasting change, which is needed more now than it ever has been. We’re dedicated to making this a reality, and the proof sits in the hands of managers and care teams across the U.S. right now.

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