Healthcare providers are faced with workforce burnout, system integration and a dynamic digital revolution. How will they retain staff who are at the edge of collapse? How can they embrace working more collaboratively? How should they use new and emerging technology to transform services effectively?
Country manager Alain Larochelle and technical manager Sébastien Delécolle of Enovacom’s Canada team reflect on how healthcare providers can use interoperability to make the most of the technology and data now, in the next 12 months, and for the years ahead.
Many in healthcare feel that the promise of technology has been broken. Systems have been optimized to support regulatory compliance rather than the delivery of care. Even now, some healthcare technology exists in isolation, divorced from the holistic nature of care.
Covid19 has gone some way to address the issue. Technology has helped providers cope with demand. But some of the obstacles remain. We do not systematically tap into the insight the data that systems can generate, causing frustration across the healthcare landscape.
Interoperability can help us address this by putting data, information and insight at the heart of care. By better data sharing and system integration, we can protect and support staff and maintain the quality of care, and not just in the short term. Interoperability can help healthcare cope with its immediate challenges, and create the building blocks for change in the months and years ahead.
Addressing the immediate needs of healthcare professionals
Frontline staff are spending hours every day on tasks that add no value, that take away from patient care, and which increase the chance of error.
Nurses are working 12-hour shifts, spending too much time transcribing vital signs at the bedside, using paper notes or even their wrists for manual entry on the computer later. Unsurprisingly, data can be lost or entered inaccurately, or unavailable when it is needed most.
Such inefficiency, together with the pressure of the pandemic, means many in the nursing profession feel even more like expendable commodities. Some are saying enough is enough.
Doctors at the edge of their cognitive capacity are having to wade through swathes of data to get the comprehensive picture they need to deliver the right patient care. The patient record is a partial record that is at the mercy of staff fatigue, system disconnect and legacy infrastructure.
Healthcare staff want decision support systems that help them create insight, not just absorb information. A key step is to get the data into these systems for their own interpretation.
Healthcare providers, such as Montreal Heart Institute, have found the answer to such immediate challenges through better interoperability.
The specialist healthcare organization is using medical device integration, task automation and scalable interoperability to remove the need for manual vital signs recording, and to keep the data flowing. It is protecting and supporting its staff by using the data generated by medical devices, and across the clinical workflow, to further improve quality of care.
Better interoperability is saving nursing staff in intensive care units an average of two hours every day by reducing the time they spend on manual data entry. Data flows directly into the electronic patient record, giving doctors the complete picture they need to provide the best possible care.
Providing the foundation for more integrated care
Interoperability is not only important to the ICU; through more reliable and robust data sharing, it supports better care across an entire healthcare ecosystem.
Even within a hospital, data sharing can be hampered by a lack of connectivity between devices from different manufacturers. Policy makers are encouraging the adoption of interoperability standards to address this, but it is likely to take several years before they are in widespread use.
Data sharing outside of the hospital can prove even more problematic. Organizations that have evolved into isolated units in the delivery of healthcare are now looking to integrate services at scale. Accessing data across care pathways is vital, yet a mess of legacy and standalone systems proliferate.
The end result is huge waste. Tests are duplicated. Protocols are not put in place. Contradictory information causes headaches for physicians and patients.
Healthcare providers are rightly frustrated that they cannot easily access and share the data they have. They want to harness the data created by clinical and operational processes inside and outside the hospital.
Providers are solving this by using interoperability as part of a wider digital transformation strategy, building on the advantages realized by giving clinical and nursing staff access to digital tools and information that help free up time and improve care.
CHUM (Montreal University Health Centre) and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust have embraced interoperability, and are making it the starting point for making information available across the wider health and care community. Rennes University Hospital is working with multiple providers on the first clinical data network in Europe.
Staff are using interoperability technology themselves to connect devices inside and outside the hospital, and unlocking the value of data held by their partners, across the regional footprints that are the basis for integrated care.
Creating a platform for the data-driven healthcare revolution
Healthcare executives with one eye on the future know that we are in the midst of a Fourth Industrial Revolution that is ‘blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres’.
Data in healthcare is the lifeblood of this revolution. It needs to flow across boundaries in ways which are shifting all the time, and for which old approaches to system planning have to change.
Meanwhile the future of value-based, data-driven healthcare is faced with growing demand, increasing costs, and burgeoning expectations. Innovation and interoperability are central to how healthcare can address such challenges.
Data needs to flow not only from the patient and monitors to EPRs and dashboards, but across the patient pathway. As Covid19 has shown us, the gap between research institutes and frontline care needs to close.
The fourth revolution in healthcare is underway, and interoperability is its standard bearer. Vaudois University Hospital is using an Internet of Medical Things approach that sees vital signs data recorded through patient gowns, saving time for nurses, and giving clinical staff the data they need to enhance the care they provide.
IHU Méditerranée Infection has used interoperability to automate data collection from its robotic biobanks, helping to enhance its research and providing the route to rapid data sharing that will be felt across healthcare in the months and years to come. It is a time of great hope.
Let us listen to the challenges you face
These are promising starts on the journey towards an exciting future of healthcare, one that we might not have imagined in the past five years. It is only by working together that we can properly fulfil the promise held by technology.
We are keen to hear about your challenges with data sharing and interoperability. We work across the globe with some of the world’s leading healthcare providers, helping them address similar challenges to your own. Get in touch with us to show we can partner you on the journey, for the now, near and far.
Get in touch with Alain Larochelle at firstname.lastname@example.org