Healthcare providers are increasingly realising the vital importance and benefits of enabling patient care systems to speak to one another
You can have all the sophisticated technology and comprehensive data points imaginable alongside trained and engaged healthcare professionals but if these constituent parts can’t talk to each other then they can’t help patients.
It’s little wonder then, that interoperability has become such a priority for the health service. According to the 2018 NHS IT Leadership Survey, 82 per cent of those asked said that interoperability that enabled systems and staff to share patient information was their top priority – up from 51 per cent in 2017.
It’s clear that one of the keys to better interoperability is standardisation. The NHS centrally and locally, along with its suppliers, need to work together to deliver agreed standards so that that local NHS can be more agile and respond to patients’ needs more quickly and appropriately.
David Hancock, healthcare executive advisor at InterSystems, says: “Standards across organisations are important because without them all you’ll only be able to do is send documents to clinicians that end up rarely read or viewed. Using standards allows information to be delivered in far more usable and convenient ways”.
However ingenuous the technology, digital transformation of the kind that is so successful in Lincolnshire, relies on executing a clear vision. This means putting the ground work in early to engage all the contributing people and organisations, together making appropriate adjustments along the journey.
One of the keys to better interoperability is standardisation. The NHS centrally and locally, along with its suppliers, need to work together to deliver agreed standards
“We need to recognise shortcomings quickly and work in an agile way in order to meet clinical needs quickly and to be responsive” affirms Yossi Cohen, physician executive at InterSystems. “Most importantly, we also need to ensure that clinicians can easily adopt it and reap the benefits. This means involving front line care providers from beginning, and throughout, the implementation”.
It’s fair to say that many health and care providers will be open to technology that makes their lives easier and enables them to deliver better healthcare more quickly. Unfortunately points out Mr Hancock, they can often lack the time and the patience to learn to use new systems.
To win over hearts and minds, IT and digital transformation leaders need to work with the willing. Identify champions, those who can spread the word and demonstrate the benefits from their own experience.
IT leaders need to listen to staff, as well, allowing them to contribute their own ideas, adds Dr Cohen. “Digital road maps,” he says, “need to be clinically driven so that clinicians buy into the technology and their patients can benefit from the exciting new opportunities that it offers.”