Better facility design, new technology and enhanced processes need to unite to drive innovation, improve affordability in healthcare and deliver sustainable, innovative health, according to a group of experts in the field.
The general consensus of the panel was that with healthcare delivery expected to be driven by patient outcomes, successful healthcare providers need to tailor new design and technology, content delivery platforms and processes to suit their particular needs.
Board International Asia-Pacific General Manager Mark Sands said many healthcare providers currently face siloed IT infrastructures with a range of systems that serve different areas of the organisation. He mentioned that this makes it difficult to share data between these areas.
According to sands, to improve patient outcomes, clinicians need to be allowed to analyse data at the time of diagnosis, not long after treatment.
“In order to be more efficient and effectively deliver patient service we need to cut across silos. Teams need to be working together more effectively and access to real-time data is critical,” he said.
Another way to remove silos is with modern unified communication technology which helps staff collaborate and enables people to receive care in any location, according to 8x8 Asia-Pacific Vice-President Brendan Maree.
“Modern unified communications incorporating telephony, conferencing, collaboration, instant messaging, and contact centre functionality can empower medical staff with the right tools to enable them to provide the best patient experience possible any time and any place,” Maree said.
“Unified communications also enables doctors to converse with patients and collaborate with other specialists teams remotely, thus enhancing telemedicine.”
Increasing cloud play
Maree also identified that having solutions hosted in the cloud and supported by a single vendor eases the burden on internal IT resources and lowers operational costs.
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Osana Founder Dr Kevin Cheng agreed, stating that deploying cloud-based applications, rather than using a more traditional on-premise data centre, delivers benefits for an organisation by facilitating data access and collaboration from any facility.
“We want to move the health system to a future state that uses cloud-based medical systems and consumer-friendly apps,” Cheng said.
With a number of elements coming together to drive change, from statutory changes to varying regulations and financing, Sands said there is a growing need for efficiency, which cloud will deliver.
“With long established businesses used to doing things in a certain manner, financial and analytics is very manual. Cloud offers a cost effective way to establish a more automated way to do things,” Sands said.
Designing a strategy for change
CQR Consulting Chief Technology Officer Phil Kernick said as more automated hospitals and care facilities are developed, everything from organisational structure, cyber security, design and care methods to the underlying IT support infrastructures must be critically reviewed.
“We spend a lot of money on patient care, but no money on backend systems,” Kernick said. “We need to avoid a tipping point where we can’t manage the complex technology in a modern hospital or care facility.”
Collard Maxwell Architects Managing Director Charles Fortin said today’s new hospitals have a lot in common with data centres as they require high-levels of power and data redundancy, security, and connectivity.
“But we are still experiencing the early days of the tech revolution, and there will be great opportunities here in Australia to design new types of hospitals and aged care facilities which can reap the advantage of applying new technology for patient care,” Fortin said.
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Telsyte Senior Analyst Rodney Gedda added that the pressures coming from within will require health and care providers to develop a comprehensive response strategy.
“Australia’s health and care industry is changing rapidly with the onset of a range of data-intensive technology, from personal health monitoring devices to enterprise medical record systems,” Gedda mentioned.
He also said that while the challenges facing health and care providers are unlikely to diminish in the foreseeable future, better application of design and technology can help deliver improved levels of patient care.
“Successful providers will work with multiple data sources to provide improved healthcare outcomes for patients and residents,” he said.