Using technology to enhance patient care: three easy fixes (and a hard one) by Karlien Hollanders, Patient Advocate and Hack Healthcare Curator
Not all technological problems in healthcare are difficult to solve; sometimes a shift in perspective is all it takes.
Karlien’s perspective as a healthcare professional – she’s a trained pharmacist – and a technology expert was upended when her daughter was diagnosed with Primary Hyperoxaluria. She talked about her journey and her learnings during The 5th Conference on Digital Health – link to her full story (in Dutch) is below. Here are a few highlights that we think both healthcare professionals and everyone else will find useful.
The very first issue Karlien noted is that, while visiting different specialists, the patients themselves are the ones introducing their prior medical experiences and diagnosis to the newly acquainted doctor. As most of the time medicine is not the patients’ area of knowledge, that creates a substantial risk that they might forget a symptom or leave out critical details. Even in the few cases where electronic health records (patient data) are available, throughout shared platforms, they are almost always incomplete. A lot of medical data is not shared between different hospitals and doctors, simply because they work through different systems. Patients can’t share their own medical background because they often do not have access to their own data.
The underlying problem is that we don’t share data across different healthcare professionals.
Looking at the bigger picture, the lack of medical and technical patient data collection and sharing between different healthcare professionals is seriously holding back the outcome of the medical care. Most importantly, when patients are required to travel to different healthcare facilities, the digitalisation of the patient data and its cross-availability becomes crucial.
Patient-centred care is the best way to improve the patient experience through the medical system: having digitally stored information, exchangeable in between different medical givers would ease the screening and diagnosing processes, making them more accurate and faster, it would occur in fewer errors and it would allow a higher margin of intervention in rare diseases.
But, as Karlien points out: big things always start small!
That is why, in her work as Patient Expert, she started investigating which digital easy-to-implement solutions could be adopted to improve patients’ healthcare.
Every room in almost every hospital is equipped with a screen, and every screen could become a TV. So what about having platforms like Netflix or Disney+ in case of children – and truth be told, not just – to really make dreams come true?.
Not only: applications like Zoom or BedNet would allow patients to keep working or following classes online. And despite the fact that some patients would choose not to, the point is giving them the means to do it and the opportunity of making a choice.
Another aspect that has an enormous impact on the quality of hospitalisation is, with no doubt, food. Excluding all people whose pathologies constrain them to a specific diet, a lot of patients, and all their caregivers, could – and would love to – eat “normal” outside-of-the-hospital food.
So Karlien asks a very simple question: why not integrate, inside the hospitals’ network, a food delivery service? Let’s give patients the opportunity to enjoy their favourite food!
Not everything in the hospital is an emergency, yet there is only one button for the patients to press! So why not insert a second one, guaranteeing not only a more adequate distribution of medical staff, but also giving patients and caregivers a deeper feeling of wellbeing throughout the medical system?
These are not improvements which require a structural change in the way the healthcare system works, rather just a sparkle of creativity and some logistical adjustments.
Karlien is our #HackHealthcare curator and together we are going to explore four themes that have been identified by different actors from across the healthcare industry as the ones where a touch of creativity and collaboration is most welcome:
- Personalised prevention
- Data value chains
- Alternative financing models.
If you too find these themes relevant, schedule a short call with Karlien to see how your company can be involved and what #HackHealthcare can do for you.
The video of Karlien’s full talk in Dutch is online.