The past year has been a crash course in how to maintain productivity in the face of unprecedented stress. Across the board, therapists in acute care settings have been expected to do far more with far fewer resources than ever before. Fortunately, this crash course came complete with a pandemic-induced lesson no therapist will be quick to forget: The importance of real-time data.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the definition of real-time data has taken on an entirely new meaning. Now, real-time data is at the heart of acute care rehab, with no signs of being replaced any time soon.
Overwhelmed Hospitals, Capacity Restraints, and Acute Care Teams
To truly understand the importance of real-time data for acute care teams, we must start by taking a bird’s eye view of the state of hospitals across the U.S. Since the pandemic began in early 2020, the federal government has routinely released detailed hospital-level data to reveal the toll the virus has taken on healthcare facilities. The purpose of the report, titled COVID-19 Reported Patient Impact and Hospital Capacity by Facility, is to spotlight areas where hospitals are in danger of reaching capacity.
In 126 counties, the average hospital is at least 90% occupied.¹ And in the first week of February 2021 alone, more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, 25% of all U.S. hospitals were still under extreme stress.² This extreme stress has proven challenging, especially among acute care settings that rely on available inpatient and ICU beds to continue to treat patients. Without available beds, incoming patients can back up into the ER or even the OR, creating pandemonium for hospital staff.
Beyond hospital facilities themselves, healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, and therapists are feeling the stress. Over the past three months, 82% of healthcare workers have reported feeling emotionally exhausted and 68% have experienced physical exhaustion.³ The threat of constant capacity constraints, paired with a dramatic influx of daily responsibilities, has proven challenging among acute care settings.
The New Definition of “Real-Time Data” in Acute Care Settings
With capacity constraints present as a near-constant concern throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, real-time data has become invaluable to acute care facilities. Real-time data allows information to travel from one wing of the facility to another within milliseconds and allows acute care therapists to remain on the pulse of patient activity. Patient-specific data, such as recommended discharge destination and discharge equipment needs, can reach the necessary party the instant it’s needed.
With discharge information traveling through a facility at lightspeed, real-time data allows patients ready for discharge to rapidly move through the hospital system. In this way, therapists can free up beds for incoming patients, who can then be quickly inputted into the system. Real-time data can help acute care rehab therapists improve workflow and efficiencies, all while maintaining constant communication — without any added stress or responsibility.
Discover How Real-Time Data Can Impact Acute Care Therapy
While moving patients throughout the hospital system is a key benefit of real-time data, that’s not the only way this information can impact acute care rehab teams. In fact, real-time data can help reduce reliance on outdated manual methods of patient management. Plus, it significantly reduces documentation cycle time and streamlines standardized outcome measurements.
If you want to learn more about how the pandemic redefined real-time data, and how that data has transformed acute care therapy, you don’t want to miss out on the latest ebook from Net Health.
¹HealthData.gov, “COVID-19 Reported Patient Impact and Hospital Capacity by Facility,” Feb. 22, 2021.
2 NPR, “Many Hospitals Are Still Overwhelmed By COVID-19 Patients. Is Yours?” Feb. 22, 2021.
³ Mental Health America, “The Mental Health of Healthcare Workers in COVID-19,” January 2020.