Article

Is patient care still at the mercy of IT?

By Bryan McGuinn, Marketing Director Healthcare Digital EMEA & Asia

Making a difference to patients is at the heart of modern healthcare leadership. The pressures and targets that exist today are there to drive up standards and timeframes to improve diagnosis, treatment and care outcomes. Yet why is interoperability – the sharing of information between medical devices and information systems - still regarded as IT speak and not a topic for discussion in healthcare boardrooms?

Departmental silos and missing pieces of the patient data jigsaw are still causing lost opportunities for time, cost and performance gains. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in patients¹ and not having the right data at the right time could be a cause.

High standards mean free-flowing, shared information

Imagine a true to life scenario: An ambulance takes a road traffic accident patient to a regional A&E department; the patient is verbally handed over upon arrival and taken inside for the trauma assessment; a CT scan is requested and reported upon determining the need for transfer to a specialist centre for further treatment; the patient is transferred, most often without any data, and upon arrival a further CT scan is required before moving to treatment planning.

How many opportunities for the sharing of data in this trauma care continuum have been missed? The patient’s full medical record could have been obtained before arrival at A&E; advanced triage notification from the ambulance team could have been given to prepare receiving teams; no onward digital reporting of notes from A&E consultants or the first CT scan to the Centre of Excellence; a second CT scan is requested, repeating imaging dose and further delaying treatment until it is reported on again. The lack of free flowing, shared information is hindering the patient’s care.

Interoperability can help to reduce the delays, it reduces repetition and it streamlines care. It helps to improve the long-term outcome for a patient and can potentially reduce the length of hospital stay. It also futureproofs and paves the way towards innovative new technological working practices.

Healthcare leadership powers innovation

Let’s take Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an on-trend example. It relies on a multitude of different data sources being linked around the patient and made available to AI systems that haven’t even been conceived of yet. A healthcare system can only prepare for it through interoperability. Today only 3% of clinical data is used², so to prepare for the powerful evolution of AI, open clinical systems and standards based technology are required.

So how do we hop on the interoperability highway? Think bigger, move away from tick the box IT solution selection for just today’s needs. Broaden discussions with wider clinical and management stakeholders on how and why a shared picture of patient data is required for the future. Ask questions, empower enthusiasm and positively position clinical reputation and visions by putting the full picture of patient care firmly at the centre of data decision making.

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1 Source: The BMJ
2 Source: IDC Digital Universe Study