Healthcare industry getting more social

Implementing social collaboration technologies could soon be a priority in the healthcare sector, as many hospitals, clinics and physician offices are increasingly taking a patient-centric approach to care. As the customer becomes the focus, business process management software could help organizations deal with the large quantities of data that must be processed from a variety of sources.

According to a recent Computerworld report, the current state of social and collaboration tools in healthcare is somewhat undeveloped. For the most part, hospitals and other care centers are only beginning to get used to using electronic health record systems and align them with operational needs. However, social collaboration tools provide many of the capabilities that are widely recognized as important in the industry, creating considerable potential. Among these attributes are the abilities to get data immediately, create data transparency and keep physicians and patients connected to information and each other.

Because the healthcare industry is increasingly focused on collaboration, the ability to use these social media attributes is attractive to many hospitals, even though figuring out precisely how to use the technology could prove difficult. Furthermore, the report said the social media revolution, as applied to healthcare, can support goals to engage patients in the entire care process.

In traditional care chains, patients go to see their primary care physician, undergo a number of standard tests and are diagnosed. If necessary, the patient then goes to see a specialist for a second consultation. If the specialist deems it necessary, the individual will likely be sent to a hospital or similar facility for any surgeries or other care measures to be taken. This process also includes lab tests and similar processes. According to the report, this often makes the patient a simple passenger riding along in a long chain of events, not an active participant in care. Social collaboration tools can overcome this problem.

BPM is vital to almost any effort to better integrate customer-centric policies and practices into business operations. In healthcare, the technology is especially helpful because efforts to go social must include making the most of the large quantities of data handled within EHR systems. This process requires tools, like BPM, that enable automation and similar advanced capabilities that allow staff to focus on operational procedures and customers, not mundane data management tasks.