Hospitals are pursuing patient safety improvement opportunities for a number of reasons, and while the well-being of patients is obviously one of them, there's also a financial motivation: Adverse patient safety events will contribute to a $383.7 billion cost burden in the U.S. and Western Europe over the next four years, according to a new Frost and Sullivan study,
The consulting firm examined a number of pressing safety concerns for patients -- 30 of them, to be exact -- and found that these problems have affected close to 92 million patient admissions, and resulted in just under 2 million deaths.
Some of the safety concerns are already being handled well, the study found; hand hygiene falls under this category. But there were six areas in particular that are ripe for improvement, identified by a "high potential for vendor consolidation, appetite for disruptive technologies and adoption of potential innovative solutions."
Medication safety was a big one, and while there have been new approaches to medication management that have taken root, unifying health IT integration and value tends to be lacking at many hospitals, the study found. Sepsis infections are also a big risk, and could potentially be addressed through patient monitoring and an expansion of diagnostic protocols.
A blockchain approach to cybersecurity was also identified as a major area of opportunity, as was finding solutions to antibiotic-resistant superbugs, which could potentially be addressed by expanding diagnostic capabilities and infection control.
Reducing inaccurate diagnoses is another area ripe for improvement, according to the study. The final area Frost & Sullivan pointed out is cutting down on emergency department admissions by using strategies such as telehealth and remote monitoring to mitigate unwarranted visits.
The report called such measures "low-penetration areas with significant disruption potential" -- meaning technologies and processes to address these are not especially costly to implement.