Better Care Through an Interconnected Health SystemBy Andrea Villar | Wed, 09/08/2021 - 15:29
An interconnected health system can have a major impact on health services. Through technology and by sharing information, healthcare providers can improve their internal performance and provide better care to patients. However, the challenges in interconnecting the entire healthcare ecosystem are still many.
Mayo Clinic, founded in 1889 and present in Mexico through partnerships with hospitals including Medica Sur, knows that after a patient visits one of its clinics, they do not have to repeat their medical history at another. Through its interconnected technology platform, the hospital has seen major benefits in patient outcomes. "When a patient has consistency in their medical history, amazing things happen," said José Solís Padilla, Senior Administrator for International Business Development at Mayo Clinic. “Usually patients come to us for very complex medical issues and that is why we have taken on the task of generating a technology platform that has two-way communication with doctors outside of Mayo Clinic, not only nationally but internationally as well.”
The clinical outcomes that Mayo Clinic has witnessed as a result of the interconnectedness of its processes have earned the hospital a top ranking among the world's leading hospitals. This not only demonstrates that the hospital delivers good patient care but also shows patient preference, said Solis Padilla, which in turn leads to good financial results. “In healthcare, the most complex patient issues are the most cost-effective. A subspecialty practice is always more profitable than an internal medicine practice.”
For Jorge Camargo, CEO of healthcare tech company ECARESOFT, interconnectedness is synonymous with better communication between hospital departments, between hospital and doctor and even between healthcare providers. This challenge, he adds, is not exclusive to companies in the healthcare sector but to any industry looking to improve their internal communication. But for healthcare companies, the challenge takes a deeper meaning as the patient stands in the middle. In the US, deaths from medical errors are even higher than the number of deaths from car accidents. “Many of these accidents could have been prevented if everyone was working on the same page and looking at the same information seamlessly,” Camargo explained. “Everyone should be pursuing the same goals and perceiving the same risks and rewards.”
To achieve this, technology is already playing a vital role in producing data to improve patient care, says Sandra Sánchez-Oldenhage, President of PharmAdvice. The downside, however, is that today's use of that technology has been isolated and not interconnected. The evolution of this technology should be towards the creation of a healthcare community that is based on collaboration rather than competition, said Sánchez-Oldenhage. “We need to develop an interconnected system where there is alignment and standardization between metrics, health outcomes, incentives, treatment and prevention protocols across the medical community.” The one caveat, she notes, is data privacy, which institutions must strive to protect.
Many healthcare professionals, according to Esteban López, Healthcare and Life Sciences Market Lead for the Americas at Google Cloud, feel that the medical digital transformation has been more of a hindrance than a help. While doctors like having information in the palm of their hands, they also need a system that is as user-friendly as possible so they can focus on caring for their patients “instead of struggling to operate computers and other digital devices,” Lopez said.
Google Cloud, which as of 2Q21 holds an 8 percent market share of the global cloud infrastructure services market behind Amazon Web Services and Microsoft's Azure, offers several strategies that have enabled leading healthcare companies to meet demands by streamlining operations, while improving the patient experience and simplifying care, Lopez explained. One of these strategies is secure access to patient information with Google Cloud, a storage hub for all data that only authorized employees have access to but can do so from any device. Improving the patient experience with “fast and easy” virtual care has also been one of the approaches the technology company is offering to the healthcare sector.