Two years ago, I came to the HIMSS Asia Pacific Digital Healthcare Week in Singapore. At that time, I was barely impressed with the lectures and discussions because we already have had the same experiences in the Philippines; the lessons shared by the speakers were already old news to me. This time around, after only 2 years, Singapore has gone way past what I had expected. I could barely keep up with the topics and was writing down notes up until the last day.
I’d like to share with you a few key learnings I took home with me:
1. Healthcare IT Projects should be led by a Project Champion.
As much as this sounds cliche, I think that this has to be emphasized again and again until it is a reflex. The success of the implementations of healthcare systems rely on a firm, driven and directed Project Champion. This could apply to both private and public projects and Healthcare policy creation. What made most country’s implementations successful was that in each and every project, there was a Project Champion that had clear goals and action plans towards each goal.
2. Focus on Collaborative Management.
In the clinical setting, collaborative management is a necessity. To achieve a more unified, holistic care to the patient, all aspects of care to the patient given by the various health care providers involved are coordinated and communicated with one another. This should also be translated when designing and implementing healthcare systems. Communication among health care providers is essential for improved patient outcomes. Recent applications are geared towards improving the ease of communication among health care providers.
When applied to Healthcare policy creation, the meaning of collaborative management equates to getting the right people on board and communicating the goal and the corresponding unified course of action to achieve it. One of the main reason why Singapore’s Healthcare IT has moved forward at such an amazing speed is that the people and companies that were included in the program developed concrete processes that ensure their communication with one another. An environment of sharing and learning were encouraged among hospitals and even among competing EHR vendors.
3. Patients should own their health information.
“Individuals must own their health information.”
Perhaps the most radically different view I came across in the conference was that health information, no matter who encoded it or who paid for it, must belong to the patient. If this idea is embraced by everyone, it can remove so many of the limitations we are currently facing in developing and implementing healthcare systems. It also brings the promise of empowering patients and individuals with their own health.
This also brings forth the idea that healthcare is not just for the sick but for the healthy individuals. Health information is not just about operative records, doctor’s consultation notes, but encompasses daily pedometer readings, rehydration levels, caloric inputs, etc. Inclusion of these bits of information can equate to a better picture of an individual’s health which leads to better health management by both the patient and the health care provider.
4. IT systems to provide cognitive support.
Decision support has been one of the main goals of most institutions in their thrust to move from manual paper-driven processes to automated systems. But the term permits the idea that healthcare systems will remove the accountability from the health care provider. Decisions can now be made by the system. But, that is not the truth. Health care providers are still accountable and systems can only provide information to make it easier for health care providers to manage patient’s health.
As we move towards a more patient controlled health care, cognitive support is not only beneficial for health care providers but for patients themselves. Right information given at the right time is beneficial for patients so they can succeed in taking control of their own health. This does not replace the traditional consultation where expert opinion of doctors are given and prescriptions issued. Cognitive support can be as simple as giving more data available to users to educate them or remind them of pertinent information relating to their health/health habits.
As I look back on the event, most of the hype and excitement has already fizzled out. But, the key lessons shared by the speakers and movers of Singapore and Asia’s Healthcare IT industry gives me the passion to continue to push Philippine Healthcare IT industry to its full potential. I believe that this country has raw talent and enough resources to create and build an amazing healthcare system. We just need people to be Healthcare IT champions, stakeholders to collaborate with one another (vendor, non-vendor, patient, etc), and patients to feel empowered to say that this is our health and we are going to take responsibility for it.
Are you ready?