The healthcare industry has witnessed a shift in recent years, with patients seeking off-site facilities more frequently. As the popularity of ambulatory care continues to grow, healthcare organizations need to make changes to longstanding procedures to account for this shift. While the COVID-19 pandemic did not initiate the move to ambulatory care, it has only accelerated the growth of the ambulatory care market. Healthcare organizations need to identify and meet various challenges to remain competitive and best address the needs of the patients they serve.
Ambulatory Care Challenges
Healthcare organizations that are extending their services more into the ambulatory settings are likely to encounter challenges. Here are some of the ambulatory care challenges healthcare organizations may face:
- Infection prevention: Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) extend beyond hospitals and other acute care settings. Ambulatory care facilities must develop effective infection control practices — for example, a focus on proper hand hygiene and equipment sterilization — to mitigate the risk of infection. As higher-acuity patients turn to ambulatory facilities more, these facilities must keep HAI prevention at the forefront of cleaning procedures. Infection prevention calls for specific protocols and products to keep patients and clinical staff safe.
- Staffing: Ambulatory care settings face challenges in clinical team staffing and staffing for support service functions such as ambulatory environmental services. Healthcare organizations need frontline staff with the right skill-set to succeed in healthcare settings. Environmental service needs in a healthcare setting differ from what other environments require. Additionally, once organizations find support associates with the correct skill-set, they also face the challenge of efficiently managing these special teams.
- Caregiver communication and teamwork: As acute care settings have demonstrated, a coordinated care team can significantly impact the patient experience. This point remains true in an ambulatory environment. The patient experience relies on all members of a team, from clinical staff to support staff. Acknowledging the integral role support staff plays in infection prevention and patient safety is vital. When the full team behind patient care can effectively communicate, every team member is empowered to follow best practices and procedures.
- Standardization: The more variation exists across procedures, the more the risk increases. Healthcare networks that include multiple ambulatory facilities face the challenge of creating standardized processes followed across all settings, but healthcare systems that don't have cohesive protocols expose their patients and staff to increased risk. Standardization doesn't create an impersonal experience but instead fosters a setting where staff can more easily follow correct procedures that ensure patient safety and satisfaction.
Healthcare networks must learn to navigate ambulatory care challenges effectively to remain competitive while providing the best possible care. If you're looking for a partner to help your ambulatory facility meet today's challenges, let us know and we'll provide your healthcare facility with the best solutions.