Healthcare transformation: the opportunity for meaningful change
Is having our health information digitally stored in one place just a good idea, or do we have a right of timely and effective access to all our health information?
When it was proposed back in 2009, the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission recommended the introduction of a person-controlled Electronic Health Record (EHR) for each Australian (MyHealth Record). It was a visionary and one of the most important systemic opportunities to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare in the country, providing citizens access to key health information to share with health care providers. The journey since then has however, been mixed with some technical success but also underwhelming take-up. Arguably the technical capability is mature, but the clinical, commercial, and practical forces have all been pushing against change in different ways.
Electronic health record: A structural change
In a health care or hospital context many believe that an Electronic Health/Medical Record (EHR/EMR) is a safe and secure place to keep key health information, available to healthcare providers at any time, in one place and is accessible from anywhere. Securely storing health information throughout a patient care journey, should help ensure citizens receive the best healthcare possible when it is most needed. Providing the right information to the right person and the point of patient care is imperative, so clinicians can make informed clinical decisions based on the information they access in an efficient and safe way.
In short, the integration and harmonisation of all patients’ electronic medical records can make health information instantly available to care providers, improve care co-ordination and reduce the risk of medical errors. Keeping information available in one place will support health professionals to make informed decisions in a timely manner and ultimately save more lives.
In the US, a “right of access” law is being progressively implemented, in which patients have a right to access their information in digital form and healthcare providers must comply or be fined. Is this on the horizon for Australia? If so, how would we handle this requirement in our current environment?
Transformational change is complex
Although the adoption of an EMR should be self-evident, recently there have been strong counterpoint arguments about the potential benefits of EMR adoption. Cost, complexity, poor change management and issues around the simple fact that the EMR is a foundation but many core clinical systems still sit outside the EMR – are some of the key concerns that have been raised.
Many health providers have a “hybrid model” of paper and digital patient & clinical information, spread across many paper and digital systems that do not provide an efficient, or readily accessible environment. Clinical and administrative staff spend a considerable amount of time chasing information, taking them away from hands-on care. Therefore, since 2009, governments around the world have promoted interoperability and meaningful use.
Integration: the key to harness the change
The implementation of EMR systems is complex and requires significant integration to centralise the patient data in one place. For example, a typical hospital can still have over 30 key systems which are not integrated to the EMR.
Integration is a key component in bringing all the key ingredients for successful change together and ensuring be-spoke, stand-a-lone and enterprise systems are coordinated. Advances in interoperability and the adoption of the FHIR and open standards have already been a step in the right direction, improving access to EMR data. The next step is to use these standards to integrate EMR data from various environments (private and public health facilities, community, aged care, citizens etc.) to provide a complete picture of a citizens health journey.
Transformational change takes courage and resilience
Change is not only about technology, but also about courage and resilience. It takes courage to embark on a new transformation journey: it forces one to step out of one’s comfort zone. Yet, this is where innovation and progress can begin. Digital transformation is an essential step and must be driven by strong leadership and stakeholder engagement, bringing the best of people and technology together to achieve a clear vision of a future where healthcare is better, faster and simpler.
Digital transformation is an essential step and must be driven by strong leadership and stakeholder engagement, bringing the best of people and technology together.
How can we support the decision makers, stakeholders, governments, and citizens to go on this journey? The technology is available and ready to be deployed, but it needs to be underpinned by change structured management approach driven by individuals and include:
- Clear articulation of long-term benefits for the healthcare providers, the patient, the community
- Understanding of technical roadblocks and how to solve them
- New ways of working that bring people and technology together
Bringing the best of people and technology
Atos can support the healthcare industry in Western Australia by bringing tools and providing infrastructure to help lift their services to the community to the next level. We can enable a better experience of delivering and receiving more effective and good value healthcare, meeting the State’s requirement in terms of security, sovereignty and governance.
Atos works in collaboration to design and operate digital healthcare platforms that enable better outcomes for patients, clinicians, and society. We can help you to respond to changes in service demands and innovate at speed, from proof of concept through to business norm. Leveraging global experience working in healthcare ecosystems, we focus on how to deliver operational efficiencies and improve patient and staff experiences through digitally enabled, collaborative and connected care.