Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Health + Tech | Towards patient centred healthcare

Published:Thursday | May 17, 2018 | 11:04 AMDoug Halsall

Healthcare is driven by market forces just like any other business.

 

While it is not the conventional, product development and sale or service offering and acquisition business, healthcare encompasses both these concepts. If one is in the business of healthcare then one has to ensure that its market is being adequately served.

 

Many persons may open their mouths in shock to hear me referring to healthcare as a business because traditionally we have looked at it as some kind of philanthropic venture.

 

Even public hospitals, some though not driven by profits, have to see where it makes financial sense to offer a service. This is why in many rural communities in Jamaica, doctors are not available every single day at the health centre because the demand is simply not there to make investing in that way financially worthwhile.

 

Now where am I going with this? I am making the point that if we view healthcare as a business then we would view the customers – patients – as the drivers of that business.

 

 Therefore a patient centred healthcare approach has to be paramount for survival in this fast becoming very competitive landscape. Technology will, and has already, played a central role in achieving the requirements to make this a success. A technology driven patient centred healthcare system can have many advantages to all parties involved.

 

Technology must be used to support the goals of an inclusive patient centred healthcare system.

 

When patients are empowered for example, they are actively involved in the process which results in more positive outcomes. Back in 2011 the United States Department of Health and Human Services made the point that health technology “makes it possible for healthcare providers to better manage patient care through secure use and sharing of health information.”

 

Furthermore, it makes healthcare “more efficient, reduces paperwork for both doctors and patients, expands affordable care” and overall improves health outcomes.

 

The University Hospital of the West Indies is using a health information management system, and on the face of it, we would just assume that it would only be for the hospital to run more efficiently.

 

Of course this is a part of the reason to adopt technology at the facility, but why does the hospital exist in the first place and why does it, along with others, work towards getting persons to use its services?

 

Well because it is a business that provides employment to hundreds of people and seeks to acquire revenue to keep its operations going. So, when we look deeper, we would realise that, for the most part, the adoption of technology really is to make the offerings more attractive for its customers, patients.

 

For example, the pharmacy information management module reduced wait time and increased accuracy of prescriptions, immediately improving the patient experience.

 

Medical practises and other sections of the healthcare provision business must begin to see the merits of using technology as part of their business processes.

 

The industry is rapidly changing and patients are demanding an improved level of care that can only be achieved through the use of technology.

 

I have been getting more and more requests for health technology especially the electronic medical record component. Patients want to ensure that their medical history is secure and accessible, that the information it provides will reduce the likelihood of errors and that it will help their physicians to holistically engage them.

 

They also want to be mobile while still being able to access care.

 

If we look at patient needs and use this to design our business (healthcare) offerings then it would be clear that the industry is indeed driven by the needs of patients as consumers and rightfully so.

 

In a few years, we will find that the healthcare facilities that are quick to adopt and use technology in the right way, to support patient care, will be the facilities of choice.

 

Doug Halsall is chairman and CEO, Advanced Integrated Systems

Feedback:  Doug.halsall@gmail.com