Taking the pulse on digital health
 

Taking the pulse on
digital health

MediRecords attended a packed Digital Health Festival in an icy Melbourne on 31 May and 1 June. The conference was the largest face-to-face event since the pandemic and attracted international speakers and delegates from across Australia.

 

A recurrent theme was that telehealth has been normalised during the pandemic and is now an everyday tool for doctors and specialists. But while digital and virtual care technology is widely used, too many systems still don’t share information and healthcare professionals are fed up with having to use multiple, disconnected products.

Here are some snapshots from the festival:

Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Amanda Cattermole said the agency remains committed to a connected healthcare system through which data passes, “seamlessly, safely and securely”. Ms Cattermole said a new National Digital Health Strategy is imminent and that the ADHA has three key roles:

  1. Creating a collaborative environment that accelerates adoption of digital technology, including stewarding and supporting state government initiatives.
  2. Building and providing ‘infrastructure glue’ that is FHIR enabled, web-based and includes a new health API gateway to national digital health systems, due by the end of 2022.
  3. Co-designing a governance framework, or the ‘guardrails’ for a national healthcare interoperability plan.

ADHA projects under way also include:

  • a national digital children’s health record, replacing state-based systems
  • a framework for sharing population health data ethically and securely
  • a national digital imaging platform for diagnostic medical imaging, and
  • a My Health Record mobile app.
Dr Paresh Dawda, Director and Principal at Prestantia Health and Next Practice in Canberra, illustrated the importance of user experience design and interoperable health data systems by talking about a typical work day. Dr Dawda spends an estimated eight minutes every morning logging into 16 different clinical systems. Cumulatively that’s more than 30 hours per year that he can’t spend on patient care and the cost to his business could be $9800 per clinician per year. While digital technology, “is often held up as the solution to clinician burnout, it can also be part of the problem”, he said. True interoperability would mean clinicians could use fewer systems to access the same amount of data, freeing time to dedicate to patient care.
 

My Emergency Doctor founder and Medical Director Justin Bowra explained how virtual ED doctors help improve patient flow and reduce clinical risks at hospitals and urgent care centres. Dr Bowra said MED clinicians conduct case conferences via video calls, including reviewing the status of patients waiting in ambulances. The case conferences enable patient flow decisions that reduce ED wait times, such as advising that patients can go direct to theatre. The service also provides clinical decision support and mentoring to on-site doctors and an auditable recording of all interactions.

Caligo Health Managing Director Dr Amandeep Hansra said the COVID-19 pandemic had catapulted digital health innovation forward by at least a decade, creating created consumers who are actively engaged in their care and demand access to and control of personal data. The pandemic had also created a mountain of data — 30% of global data comes from health — that could be the foundation for scalable analytics and AI-driven businesses. 

e-Health Queensland Health Deputy Director General Damian Green walked festival goers through the Sunshine State’s digital strategy, emphasising the importance of human-centered design and delivering equitable healthcare access for First Nations peoples and diverse communities. Mr Green said clinicians were required to work with too many products and ‘system sustainability’ would necessitate fewer systems with the requisite data for better decision making. He said safety was at the heart of all digital investment decisions and told vendors, “if you can show you are going to improve outcomes, then talk to us.”

Victorian Department of Health Chief Digital Officer Neville Board placed patient safety as the destination for the Garden State’s digital health roadmap. Mr Board said reducing risks to patients caused by paper-based processes was a major priority and showed how e-prescribing significantly reduces risks of medication errors. Victoria has also committed to a Health Information Exchange that enables interchange of information between all hospitals.

Neville Board placed patient safety as the destination for the Garden State’s digital health roadmap. Mr Board said reducing risks to patients caused by paper-based processes was a major priority and showed how e-prescribing significantly reduces risks of medication errors. Victoria has also committed to a Health Information Exchange that enables interchange of information between all hospitals.

Victorian Chief Digital Officer Neville Board highlights the risks of handwritten medication notes.

Alcidion CEO Kate Quirke said procurement processes in Australia were a deterrent to innovation and that many Proof of Concept projects did not proceed to implementation because contractual requirements were too onerous.

Former Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said healthcare start-ups need to be thoroughbreds capable of going the distance, rather than flashy unicorns. And the secret to designing an enduring product? Make sure you’re solving problems for patients and their families.

Dr Emma Rees, Founder and CEO of women’s healthcare platform Femma, said health care should not cease when a patient leaves the room and be suspended until a follow-up appointment. Dr Rees said “the future of healthcare is a hybrid model” where patients have clinically curated, individual management plans and on-demand access to education materials and nutritional, exercise, mindfulness and yoga programs.

Image courtesy of ResApp

Australian start-up ResApp has developed a digital diagnostic app for respiratory illnesses, available on mobile devices. The ResApp tool listens to a patient cough five times and then sends a report direct to a GP. ResApp CEO Dr Tony Keating said trials in India and the US had shown a high level of accuracy in diagnosing COVID-19. Using the app for initial diagnosis could make up to 80% of RAT and PCR testing unnecessary, bringing immediate benefits for patients, cost savings for governments and environmental benefits. 

The Global Healthcare Lead for Zoom, Ron Emerson, said research by a leading US healthcare provider had shown that 70 per cent of patients attending at urgent care facilities could be safely seen by a virtual health care clinician, helping to relieve pressures on overcrowded hospitals. Zoom is now being used by prestigious US healthcare organisations, including the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins and New York Presbyterian hospitals.

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    Survey Results: What do Clinicians really look for in Practice Management Software?

    Survey Icon

    Survey Results: What do Clinicians really look for in Practice Management Software?

    Medirecords team Andrew Dyson

    by Andrew Dyson, Digital Marketing Lead

    Survey Icon

    COVID impact, working habits and rejection of Telehealth?

    Throughout July we ran a survey for users of Medical Practice Management Software, like MediRecords. The aim was to listen to, and learn from, both our own users and those who use alternatives.

    In this article we have summarised some of the more interesting insights around:

    • the impact of COVID on doctors
    • the working environments of clinicians
    • what users want from practice management software, and
    • How important Telehealth features are to clinicians.

    If any of this sounds interesting, then please read on! But before we get into it, we would like to say a big thank you to all who took part in the survey.

    As with all survey data, the stats can often be interpreted in many ways. If you have any insights or explanation for what we found in the survey, we would love to hear from you via marketing@medirecords.com.

    About the Survey & Audience

    Our survey was delivered to GP clinics via fax, email and through The Medical Republics e-newsletter. Whilst the survey was open to clinicians, practice managers, nurses and business owners, most respondents primarily identified as clinicians.

    We ran our survey throughout July, which ended up being an interesting time. The initial explosion of conversations around Telehealth had begun to quieten down (more on this later), whilst Victorians began seeing lockdown restrictions gradually being enforced as they experienced their ‘second wave’.

    One noticeable skew was that the audience had a significant amount of professional experience, with over 40% having over 20 years in General Practice, which is worth bearing in mind as you read this article:

     

     

    GP’s Working Environment

    We were keen to understand how GPs tend to work, as this allows us to better understand how MediRecords can be as useful to clinicians as possible.

    We found GP’s were split fairly evenly between those who work in one location, and those who work across multiple locations. What is not clear if this means they work across multiple practices, or often from home, something which could be influenced by the current pandemic.

    Far more clinicians work on multiple devices rather than one, which us unsurprising given our consumer habits across phones, tablets and computers. It is particularly interesting for practice management software however, as ease of working across devices and locations is very difficult on server-based solutions such as Best Practice and Medical Director, compared with cloud solutions like MediRecords.

    It was interesting to see that almost as many people use Apple products as do Windows, again something that could make browser-based software more appealing to ensure consistency of experience and usability for GPs on whichever device they use.

    Preferences for practice management software

    We asked our GP respondents a lot of questions about their preferences are for practice management software. This information is best summarized in the two questions:

    • What do you like about your Practice Management Software ? And…
    • What do you not like about your Practice Management Software?

    Surprisingly, the same sort of answer was most popular for both questions – Usability!

    It can be easy to get lost in specifications and functionality lists when choosing Practice Management Software, but what this shows us all is that, fundamentally, it means little if the platform is not easy for clinicians to use. We suspect this will also be what drives most day to day frustrations users have with their current software.

    (By the way, we think this is great news given the positive feedback we have had on MediRecords from our users. If you are struggling with usability there is a solution!)

    So, are clinicians looking for something better?

    We then asked if clinicians were planning on reviewing or upgrading their software over the next five years. Only 40% of respondents said they would consider doing so.

    Many in the healthcare tech space may find this disappointing, but we believe it shows us the wider trend of reluctance to adopt and change with new technologies. Whilst many may be heralding a silver lining of COVID to be increased adoption of technology, the results suggest this mindset change will not happen overnight – even if pushed by a major event such as COVID.

    If clinicians are still reluctant to change, what does this mean for Telehealth adoption?

    We asked respondents to rank features in terms of the importance to them when choosing practice management software. Whilst we won’t be sharing the full results of this (hopefully you can understand, we want to keep some knowledge to ourselves!) what was surprising was that Telehealth was the second least important feature to the GPs we asked.

    The timing of the survey may have had something to do with this. Whilst in the earlier days of the pandemic many GPs were trying to figure out how to incorporate Telehealth into their daily workflow, by July Telehealth MBS items had been live for over a month, with GPs finding that using the telephone was an easier, more familiar solution in the short term.

    Again, this may reflect the reluctance of many to adopt new technologies, even if these technologies lead to better experiences for patients. We can see the benefits of telehealth via remote monitoring via projects such as Spritely’s recent trial in retirement villages in Christchurch, but clearly there is more work to be done to help clinicians see if there is a benefit for them.

    So, what do clinicians want from their PMS?

    Finally, we asked what GPs wished their PMS could do that it does not already.

    The results here were less clear, with 27% of people wanted a feature specific to their practice’s requirements, and a further 20% wanting an integration with a specific other service.

    This shows how personal and bespoke the needs of many practices are, and how software such as MediRecords must not only be flexible for different workflows, but also responsive to users when they need new feature.

    Again, usability came up, this time as something that respondents wish their PMS offered. Given the large share of the market enjoyed by traditional solutions such as Medical Director and Best Practice, perhaps this reflects the need for clinicians to look at some of the newer, easier to use options that are out there.

    Personally, we think MediRecords fits the bill perfectly! If you would like to find out more you can contact support@medirecords.com, book a demo, or enjoy a 30 day free trial now.

    About the Author

    Andrew Dyson is our Digital Marketing Lead here at MediRecords, and managed this latest survey. Prior to joining MediRecords he has worked on marketing projects, including in depth market research, for some of the largest employers in the UK.

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      Are the benefits of cloud solutions for healthcare more than we realise?

      Cloud solutions for healthcare

      The benefits of cloud solutions for healthcare: More than we realise?

      Michelle O'Brien

      Michelle O'Brien

      Cloud solutions for healthcare

      Could the shift to cloud solutions provide the healthcare industry more benefits than we previously realised?

      Cloud computing is finally changing healthcare.

      The consensus on the overall benefits of the cloud for our industry appears to have shifted, which was perhaps inevitable given the increased interoperability, maturity of security and the significant cost savings cloud services provide.

      However, I believe most organisations are barely scratching the surface when it comes to making the most of other benefits cloud solutions can offer. Some of the lesser known benefits, from small clinics right up to larger public health and enterprise organisations, include:

      • Improved health information exchange & interoperability
      • Predictable costs
      • Faster and more efficient scalability and fast system deployment
      • Improved backup and business continuity
      • Enhanced user experiences
      • More robust data security
      • Improvements in diagnosis and treatment through AI & Analytics
      • Easier compliance

      I am a firm believer that cloud-solutions will provide healthcare organisations with even more benefits than many currently realise.

      This is one of the key reasons I joined MediRecords, a leading cloud-based PMS, and why, over the next few months, I will be putting together a series of articles explaining each of the benefits listed above. Where it is relevant, I will be including examples of organisations who have achieved these benefits, and if possible, some tips on how your organisation may be able to follow these examples.

      You will be able to find these articles via the MediRecords blog, via our company LinkedIn page, and via my own LinkedIn page. Feel free to send me a connection request!

      In the meantime, if you are interested in finding out more about any of the above, you can always reach out to me directly, either via email (michelle.obrien@medirecords.com), or on LinkedIn.

      Michelle O’Brien, based in our Sydney office,  is Head of Strategy here at MediRecords.

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