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News Article

The Roadmap to a Digital Hospital is Not Complex

By Miriam Bello | Thu, 02/17/2022 - 13:16

The hospital of the future may look quite different than the hospital of today. Already, a growing number of inpatient health care services are being pushed to the home and to outpatient ambulatory facilities but there are still complex cases who will continue to need acute inpatient services.

A hospital is made up of several areas working together to make care provision possible, from management, supply chain and financing to clinical practices and diagnosis. In this dynamic, tech came to support management operations and medical professionals in their daily practice. As such, tech in a hospital impacts the patient and its experience in and out the facility.

“The overall targets of hospital technology are to help it operate better, take better care of patients and reach more people at a better cost. A digital hospital breaks the paradigm of quality versus quantity because it can provide attention to more people with an improved service,” said Jorge Camargo, CEO, Ecaresoft. Moreover, hospitals do not need to switch face-to-face attention for virtual care as they can offer both with equal quality.

From a medical perspective, digitalization at a hospital has five pivotal targets: reduce inefficiency, improve accessibility, reduce long-term cost by saving on materials and times, increase quality and deliver personalized medical outcomes. “Additionally, the data it generates must provide better communication and better diagnostic support for them, aside from fomenting transparency,” said Sandra García, Cardiologist, Medica Sur.

Digital hospitals have an implementation challenge that varies depending on the country, their size and the population target, explained Santiago Yeomans, Health Research and Innovation Director, Christus CEI.

While the benefits are numerous, integrating new software can be challenging because everyone at the hospital may be used to traditional practices. Thus, “tech providers must realize that the goal is not to modify the clinical path of a hospital. If technology is going to enter, we must look for tools that do not disrupt the clinical way of working,” said Juan Caceres, CEO, Aidicare. He stressed that tech companies must add value to their processes without trying to change them because “that is not technology's area of ​​expertise.”

Nonetheless, a hospital should not be dogmatic in its processes. “Hospitals need to analyze, from their principles, how tech can help and support them in their operations,” said Camargo. He recommends tech companies begin with smart targets to have quick wins that will then allow them to continue the digital transformation. “Learn from the hospital and its advances to know when and how they may be ready for another change,” Camargo explained.

Apart from considering the areas of adoption, tech providers should also take into account the groups of professionals ready to adopt tech. “For example, Mexican nurses know how to use computers and smartphones but they are still skeptical about tech. Residents, however, have a greater adoption of tech, so training for them is much simpler,” said García.

Hospitals such as Médica Sur recommend a transition that begins with management to then progress to clinical areas. “With Aidicare, we began with management and then expanded to the hospitalization areas. Now, we are transitioning the therapy and emergency areas,” García said. More importantly, it is key to find a perfect match between the tech provider and the hospital. “The chosen tech provider must have a clear path and answers to incoming questions, and provide personalized training if possible,” said García.

Transitional implementation has been well received because professionals perceive how tasks on their daily work have improved. Thus, they are willing to integrate other solutions that will do the same, said Caceres. “Furthermore, we need to break the paradigm that tech is about "being fancy" because it is not, it is a matter of being efficient.”

This thinking goes in line with the misconception that tech is complex and hard to understand and adapt. “Applications must be intuitive, as easy as delivery for Rappi is. That must be our benchmark: intuitive enough so that implementation has the smallest amount of hand-holding,” said Camargo.

One of the pivotal parts of a successful digital hospital is its ability to interconnect with other areas and devices. “At Médica Sur we have interconnected nursing sheets with measurements of vital signs. We also used our robots to interconnect different specialties of the hospital. This takes digitalization from a commodity to a necessity for competitiveness,” Garcia said. “In an ideal world, everyone should be interconnected to access the patient's clinical file and provide better care and follow-up,” she added.

An interconnected system is the core of a value-based healthcare model, which has been called to be the ultimate goal of the sector. “To achieve this, tech providers and hospitals must be passionate about providing security and services,” said Caceres. Moreover, hospitals need to have a futuristic view of their reach and “think beyond the walls of the hospital, which allows them to operate beyond its infrastructure to remotely service new and recurring patients remotely,” said Camargo.

Photo by:   Mexico Business News
Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst