Another year down, another year of enterprise growth, new capabilities and enhancements to technology, and a push towards improved interoperability in the form of innovative integrations. While the organizations we worked with made tremendous progress in these areas, we’re looking to the future—what should healthcare companies be focusing their efforts in 2020? There are a ton of new technologies to explore, it can be difficult to know where to start: big data, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity? Here is a look at five initiatives your team should invest in this year.

1. Bring Nurse Call Into the Future

The World Health Organization designated 2020 the Year of the Nurse, and for good reason. Nurses are involved in nearly every element of patient care, and they are usually pulled in several different directions as they collaborate across disciplines. Most facilities have a nurse call or call bell system already in place so that patients can communicate urgent needs with nursing staff.

While analysts have noted improvements in nurse call technology over the last decade, it really takes on a new value when it’s integrated with clinical communication and collaboration technology. Especially where alerting and alarm fatigue can be problematic, a CC&C platform that has alert escalations and custom sounds by alert type can significantly reduce the cognitive burden on clinicians. Some organizations that have integrated CC&C with existing nurse call systems have seen quicker voice response times to bed exits and codes. With nurse call alerts going straight to the mobile device, patients can also enjoy a quieter healing environment.

2. Invest in Point-of-Care Technology

Increasingly, CIOs are shifting focus to point-of-care technology like mobile devices and smartphone applications. The reason for this transition is clear: improving clinician mobility can boost operational efficiency and reduce friction across workflows. When clinicians have access to the technology they need right at the point of care, they can give the patient more attention, which positively contributes to patient outcomes and satisfaction. When clinical staff don’t need to be routed through a unit secretary to find each other, they can more easily collaborate with the patient’s care team and even across units and disciplines.

Consider the common transfer of care. Staff transfer care all the time, and yet it is one of the most common causes of medical errors. Because it requires several different team members to communicate specific information, that information can get mixed up or lost as it’s being transferred. When you have communication technology at the point of care, clinical staff can easily send patient information to the correct team members in a secure medium.

3. Focus on Optimizing Supply Chain

Hospital operations outside of patient care are the next frontier in cost control and workflow optimization. If you equip your supply chain and operational employees with the same tools that are making life easier for clinicians, it stands to reason that you’ll see a similar impact in time and cost savings.

Beyond that, these nonpatient-facing employees can still contribute to outcomes like HCAHPS—by including your ancillary staff on the same communication network your clinicians are using, they’ll be better able to relay information about the status of a patient’s room, or give an instantaneous update when critical supplies are delivered. For example, it’s not uncommon for patients to require a special mattress or other supply accommodation. When the patient-facing staff are able to communicate that requirement to supply chain staff quicker and easier, the patient benefits.

4. Update Crisis and Emergency Management

This topic has always been important, but in the wake of Australia’s devastating wildfires, and as we look ahead to the start of hurricane season in a few short months, it bears emphasizing in 2020.

The Joint Commission recommends revisiting your organization’s emergency preparedness, mitigation and management plans every year. When you update your protocols, make sure you account for bidirectional communication capabilities, which can save lives in the event of an emergency. When staff on the front lines of an emergency can get messages through to key decision-makers about the status of supplies, infrastructure, patient evacuation, etc., it means the command center can make more informed decisions about the course of action.

5. Promote a Culture of Change and Progress

When you introduce new protocols or technologies to hospital staff, it can be difficult to immediately promote enterprise-wide adoption—and with good reason. Clinical staff generally do not want to make significant changes to workflows unless there is a proven or guaranteed positive impact on the patient.

However, this can make things particularly challenging for hospital administrators and the IT department, as they cannot make improvements without buy-in from employees. The fix for this is to foster a company culture based on innovation and forward progress. If colleagues understand that they play a specific and important role in advancing their organization’s Environment of Care, they will be more willing to adopt new processes and technologies in order to improve patient care.

Especially in the case of CC&C technology, where the value that a user will gain from the platform is directly tied to the level of adoption and engagement, encouraging a culture of change can contribute to a boost in staff satisfaction post-implementation.

As your healthcare organization starts to execute on plans for 2020, keep these recommendations in mind.