2014 will see technology helping to facilitate fully integrated healthcare
Both an ageing population and the increase of prolonged and costly chronic illnesses means that there will be a greater demand for a level of continuous care that hospitals cannot deliver in a cost effective manner. Care will become more distributed, with the burden shared by a large variety of health providers: GPs, physiotherapists, pharmacists, home-carers, family members, private health clinics, gyms, food nutritionists – the list goes on. However, this creates a considerable technology challenge. It’s a non-trivial task to securely and efficiently share patient data when working between so many stakeholders – one that has long been worked around or avoided.
Organisations should realise that IT is crucial to enforce change. The healthcare system needs to be better suited to dealing with the increase in long-term Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which require prolonged treatment rather than acute episodes of hospitalisation. A patient-centric system based on the sharing of patient data within hospital systems, while also going beyond hospital borders and a wider spectrum of relevant stakeholders – including doctors, GPs, specialists and other healthcare practitioners – seems the best model for the future.
This integrated care model provides benefits both economically and in terms of improvements to patient outcomes. Ultimately the future of healthcare will require that the right people get to see the right patient’s data, with their consent, enabling health providers to deliver the appropriate care based on a full understanding of the patient’s history. Fundamentally, technology will play a key role in making this happen.
By: Stuart Nyemecz, district manager, regional public sector at EMC