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ICT Healthcare Solutions: How to choose what's right for your business

Technology is as important to current day healthcare practice as the stethoscope. It is essential to patient diagnosis, furthers research and leads to new treatments. It is the underpinning of medical record coordination and communication. Technology is also at the core of many hospital operations, from coding and billing to efficient heating and cooling systems.

However, purchasing imaging technology is vastly different from purchasing electronic medical record technology. Knowing how to buy the right technology can save money, increase productivity and ensure optimal performance. Here's how:

Ensure you set rules to follow

Overall, there are two rules that should be followed in any technology purchase, regardless of speciality or application:

Always seek cloud hosted applications for security

Any technology purchased by a healthcare provider of any type or size, must meet four critical litmus tests. It must provide:

  1. Accuracy
  2. Validity
  3. Confidentiality
  4. Privacy of health data and health information

If any of these boxes cannot be checked, walk away from the purchase.

Ask the right questions for the technology

The questions you need to ask will depend on whether it is a software or hardware purchase or upgrade.

Software: Can the current systems, network and internet handle new software or cloud services?

Hardware: What are the benefits, disruptions and training involved in the upgrade?

Both: Whether or not the software and/or hardware can be scaled accordingly is also a key concern. Can it be implemented across multiple facilities and practices of various sizes? The right technology for your organisation will be agile, as well as secure.

Benefit analysis

Once the important questions about the specific technology have been asked - and the answers are satisfactory - the next step is to move on to a more granular level of assessment. It's important to determine if the technology improves patient outcomes and furthers the organisation's strategic business plan. Here's four things you should consider:

What are the benefits to patient care and outcomes?

If you're thinking of adopting new patient-facing technology, you should seriously consider whether it integrates with My Health Record1. Patients like it, and are increasingly using it, and this integrated approach will likely result in increased patient engagement. 

In fact, it's been shown that as of December 2017, nearly 22% of Australia's population is now registered in the system - that's more than five million people2. In addition, 10,626 healthcare providers are connected through My Health Record and nearly 4 million clinical documents have been uploaded. That's a powerhouse that your organisation should be connected with seamlessly, with the right internal and wearable technology. 

But the sign-up rate isn't the only reason you should consider integrating with My Health Record. A recent survey4 of Australians over the age of 65 found that more than two million of them are using technology to manage their health.

It has become an increasingly important tool to manage health and wellness for seniors. The survey also found that 56% of seniors use technology at least monthly to manage their health, so this consistency shows that there is merit to this data integration. 

When it comes to mobile apps and wearable technology to monitor their health, seniors are also surprisingly adopting:

  • 59% are willing to wear, or already wear, technology that tracks vital signs
  • 73% think wearables help with understanding health conditions
  • 63% think wearables help with overall quality of health

If you are encouraging the use of wearables for your patients, make sure the technology can be integrated into your current system. Otherwise, it becomes an exercise in added expense rather than improved patient care.

How will you manage costs?

Cost and value are important determinations in the purchasing decision. We can make an implementation fit an opex or capex model to fit cash flow and IT investment needs. The way in which technology is purchase can make it affordable, if done correctly with a professional vendor.

Can it be implemented effectively?

Patient care can't be interrupted during the implementation of a new ICT solution, and downtime in things such as imaging can be damaging to both the business and standards of patient care. The right technology provider will provide a details, strategic implementation plan that reduces risk and minimises lost productivity.

The best implementation also expands operational efficiencies. A successful implementation should therefore help your organisation comply with Australia's National Digital Health Strategyby reducing the time spent searching for patient data, avoid unnecessary hospitalisations, duplication of tests and patient inconvenience.

Does the technology streamline the delivery of care?

Technology is a powerful tool to improve patient outcomes, especially for those with more complex medical conditions. For example, those with chronic diseases benefit from the coordination of care across specialities, care locations and providers.

Telemonitoring of patients helps providers to gain real-time patient data to better predict and respond to health crises and deliver care to clients in their homes. Online portals improve care with patient reminders for medications and tests; and video conferencing can improve care to patients in remote areas.

Not only are these digital care tactics good for patients, they are good for business. As technology delivers care to a wider geographic area in which patients were previously out of reach, it increases reach and volume.

The right technology is a powerful tool for hospitals, medical practices and most importantly, patients. Knowing how to buy the right technology for your business is key to the bottom line and the continuum of care.

About Vita Enterprise Solutions

With more than 20 years experience, Vita Enterprise Solutions is a well-known leader in the ICT sector - winning Telstra Enterprise Partner of the Year in 2016. Vita Enterprise Solutions goes the extra mile to deliver results for our clients, adding value to how businesses operate by designing and implementing bespoke solutions informed by our industry experts to ensure systems and process improvement

1. https://www.australianageingagenda.com.au/2017/03/24/opportunities-providers-seniors-adopt-digital-healthcare/
2. https://myhealthrecord.gov.au/internet/mhr/publishing.nsf/Content/news-002
3.  https://www.accenture.com/t00010101T000000__w__/au-en/_acnmedia/PDF-47/Accenture-Health-Silver-Surfers-in-Australia.pdf#zoom=50
4. https://www.digitalhealth.gov.au/about-the-agency/publications/australias-national-digital-health-strategy

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