Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Enhancing Patient Response Time and Hospital Efficiency. Evidence from the Wielkopolska Region (Poland)

Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Enhancing Patient Response Time and Hospital Efficiency. Evidence from the Wielkopolska Region (Poland)

Article excerpt


The healthcare sector, and especially the way hospital entities offering medical services operate, has been undergoing significant changes in recent years. These changes refer both to the way medical services are performed but also to the methods of management of healthcare units (Durlik, 2008; Trela, 2014; Karkowski, 2015). Moreover, in the healthcare sector one can notice both an aspiration to provide patients with the highest quality services and increasing expectations of patients who are more and more conscious of their rights (Lewandowski, 2008; Marcinów and Olejniczak, 2011; Moczydlowska et al., 2014; Zielmski, 2015). Multidimensional changes in the field of the healthcare sector led healthcare managers to make various decisions aimed at verifying their current management methods. Not only do they want to administer a hospital entity but also to manage it with the use of methods and strategies that have been successfully validated in other sectors (Lewandowski, 2010, p. 160; Bloom et al., 2015; Ghanem, 2015).

Despite a great technical and technological progress (Healthline News, 2013), the results of various studies and research show that patient safety is in danger due to ineffective and inefficient management of medicinal products flow in hospitals. Difficulties and challenges regarding quick and automated access to reliable data for the sake of more rapid reaction to patient's needs as well as better patient safety are definitely the reasons for such a situation. In many countries around the world research has been carried out regarding patient care in hospitals. In countries such as USA, UK or New Zealand (HDMA, 2006, p. 3; The National Academies Press, 2006, p. 105; Department of Health, 2007, p. 5; Jones, 2009, p. 1; Metzger et al., 2010 p. 4; GS1, 2010, p. 15) the research in the field of management of medicinal products flow in the context of patient care showed that patient safety - inside and outside a hospital - is very often endangered. Chart 1 shows the results of American research in that area. Although in Polish literature there is no detailed data regarding this issue due to the fact that it is not reported, it can be assumed that the results would be similar. Additionally, it has been proved that pharmacotherapy is the most error-burdened therapy (Marczewska, 2010). The consequences of such a situation can be observed both with respect to decreasing patient safety as well as on the financial ground.

In Poland, within activities focused on improving quality of medical services, there are no initiatives aimed at defining guidelines and harmonised solutions in the field of logistics in hospitals. Poor information infrastructure in Polish hospitals and lack of interoperability between various ICT solutions are also a problem. Research shows that healthcare entities are not able to follow the speed of worldwide changes in the area in question (CSIOZ, 2014; Kautsch, 2015, p. 566). Low level of implementation of global standards within eHealth is an additional problem. Chart 2 depicts the scale of this problem.

There is also a common lack of use of the global GS1 standards (e.g. barcodes and electronic documents) in the field of identification, capture and exchange of data regarding objects and locations. These standards have been used successfully in other industries, including hospital industry in other countries, for over 40 years, helping their users obtain different benefits (McKinsey&Company, 2012). In Poland, use of these standards is legally required with reference to medicinal products that are available on the Polish market. Nevertheless, the use of these standards in hospitals is of a marginal character.

The level of ICT advancement varies from hospital to hospital and in the majority of cases it is not sufficient from the point of view of automatisation and electronisation of particular processes and activities (Rçbisz, 2014). There is still a group of hospitals - especially small ones - without an IT support. …

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