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STUDY. When IoT Technology Helps Healthcare Workers

STUDY. When IoT Technology Helps Healthcare Workers
IoT technology can help healthcare workers lose less time, according to SOTI's report. (Credit: iStock)

Healthcare professionals are losing a lot of time on administrative tasks because of unsuitable IT systems, particularly due to the under-use of connected objects. The first wave of Covid-19 has forced some organizations to adopt new technologies, but there is still a long way to go to free healthcare staff from these constraints and allow them to work more effectively.

By Faki Saadi, Regional Enterprise Mobility Director, France at SOTI.

In terms of equipment—masks, breathing apparatus, hand disinfectant gel—France has what it needs, but when it comes to technology, many healthcare workers are lacking the critical tools that they need to deliver critical care. If in March healthcare staff were fresh and ready to face the crisis, they are now exhausted, as the human resources data show: low morale, an increase in sick leave, protests when the abolition or postponement of holidays is mentioned, the desire to leave the profession for a large number of people. This list goes on.

The question is how to support healthcare workers in their job, and to free them from time-intensive administrative tasks that take up much of their day-to-day? SOTI’s Critical Technology for Critical Care: State of Mobility in Healthcare 2020/21 Report provides a clearer picture of the situation in France.

Healthcare professionals are losing a lot of time on administrative tasks because of unsuitable IT systems, particularly due to the under-use of connected objects.
Healthcare professionals are losing a lot of time on administrative tasks because of unsuitable IT systems. (Credit: iStock)

Caregivers Waste Their Time on Redundant Tasks

A key finding outlines that carers spend less than half of their time (41.8%) caring for their patients. A multitude of tasks eat into their working time: accessing and updating follow-up information (10.9%), accessing medical information or resources (9.4%) or searching for data during patient visits (9.5%). Taken together, administrative tasks occupy 47.3% of the working time of healthcare staff. 

This time can be reduced. Take the example of time lost on updates, connection problems or other bugs: they cause 50% of staff to lose one to two hours a week and three to five hours for 16% of staff. Only a quarter (26%) of the respondents estimate that they spend less than one hour a week on them. These problems stem from poor management of terminals, smartphones or other connected objects. 

Additionally, 20% of carers believe that frequent technical problems make their work more difficult, 26% say that the computer system is too difficult to use, and 12% say that these systems are not updated regularly enough. 

Connected Objects Are an Underused Asset

When looking at IoT devices, the situation is mixed. It appears that 74% of employers provide terminals to carers, which should make it easier to update them, install relevant applications or secure them. However, this potential is not being exploited: for example, to access patients’ medical data, carers need to access information either on paper (22%) or on the Internet (42%). Only 36% have access to a dedicated application, which has the advantage of saving precious time and avoiding the risk of data loss or theft. 

Furthermore, only 18% of carers report that their employer uses connected objects to care for patients and 10% are in the early stages of testing. Connected objects can however generate important information which, if accessible on an application, can be cross-referenced with each other. The time required to access and save information is thus greatly reduced. 

During the first wave, 12% of respondents felt that the systems used were not able to cope with the crisis and 18% that they were able to cope with it and 16% quickly introduced new technologies to adapt.  In total, 34% saw the crisis had an impact on the technologies and systems used, but 36% say it did not change the way they worked. 

France can and must meet multiple health challenges this winter, and no doubt well into 2021, with the hope that a vaccine will arrive. It has adapted to the virus during the first wave, but faced with a second wave that is likely to be much longer, considerable efforts must be made to enable healthcare personnel to do what they have committed themselves to in the first place: to provide patients with the necessary care. Better management of IT systems and mobile terminals is within reach and will allow a significant improvement to help during this second wave.