Has the digital healthcare market moved on enough in the last 20 years? We think it has, but are buyers just going to stick with what they know?
Digitising acute trusts has been a priority in the NHS for the last 20 years. Yet progress has been slow with persistent use of paper, lack of interoperability, and patients still being asked to repeat their stories throughout their care journey.
Silos of fantastic digitisation projects are benefitting particular teams but are causing blockers elsewhere and hampering whole system flow. It’s not uncommon to hear tales of A&E doctors using three different devices to access three different systems, increasing the unnecessary cognitive burden on clinicians.
So, what’s the answer?
Speakers at #rewired23 presented solutions at opposite ends of the spectrum, from a ‘rip and replace’ approach; replacing existing systems with a common platform, mirroring the NPFIT approach of yesteryear on a localised scale. At the other end of the scale is a best-of-breed interoperable approach; making the most of what you’ve got before spending more money to solve old problems.
Converging systems was mentioned in the majority of conference sessions.
But what does convergence actually mean?
It implies a single platform, but does not necessarily mean pushing for one system across a region. Instead, NHS England explained that uniting infrastructure and major IT systems should only happen when opportunities present themselves at a local level.
And importantly, convergence is not a replacement for interoperability.
Addressing needs now
Healthcare professionals want technology solutions that solve their problems now.
Whatever the data strategy, a modular EPR approach allows ICSs, health boards and entire countries to make use of their existing deployments, improve patient flow and lose the admin, quickly. Care pathways are not limited by the walls of a hospital. Care is continual and systems need to work agnostic of their settings in a safe way. These are not 5-year implementations, a modular approach to an EPR implementation will have a clinical and operational impact in weeks.
Challenges can be solved by unlocking the value within existing investments using smart technology. This is addressing the same problems with a different approach using advancement in technologies over the last 20 years. The market has alternative options now which it didn’t have before, they should be embraced, not dismissed.
Faster, better, safer – whole system flow
Orchestrating data in a joined-up way through an open and flexible platform can provide clinical decision support for frontline teams at the bedside, supporting informed treatment in the home, or creating command centre capabilities to better manage flow across regions.
And that’s just a few examples – solving operational and clinical challenges should be the starting point when thinking about an EPR solution – rather than looking at replacing an administration system as step one.
‘One size fits all’ does not work anymore. Only a modular EPR provider can supply the flexible, agile solution needed to link up data from multiple existing systems, creating a longitudinal health record that gives each team the information they need, when they need it. It’s a new way of thinking to address age-old problems – and the answer is already in your hands to unlock.