Developments in data and technology have empowered patients to active participants in their own healthcare. Across the public system, the introduction of electronic health records by the HSE will prove transformational, allowing for better clinical decision-making and the standardisation of processes in acute settings, says Kelan Daly, Director Management Consulting – Healthcare, KPMG in Ireland.
“At present, the larger teaching hospitals have relatively robust systems in place but the smaller hospitals are predominantly paper-based. This has implications for safety if, for example, you are from Dublin and end up in hospital in Kerry, and the team there can’t get access to all of your notes.”
New digital tools and a unique identifier for each citizen will enable the sharing of information and better collaboration, helping “to keep people out of hospital and if they are in hospital to get them back out as quickly as possible. But to do that you need to be able to share information safely and quickly across the system, from the consultant in hospital to the public health nurse at the patient’s bedside at home,” Daly says.
The use of predictive analytics to identify cohorts of the population at risk before they get ill is another of the benefits digitisation will allow for, while sensor-based devices with remote monitoring will enable patients to manage more of their own care.
“Going to a building and queuing up to be seen is a 19th-century model of how to deliver healthcare,” Daly says. “Technology is enabling a redefinition of how people engage with the health service, and e-records are the building blocks for that. In terms of the difference technology can make in healthcare, it’s a really exciting time.”
Kelan Daly, Director Management Consulting – Healthcare, KPMG in Ireland, believes these changes in how patients receive healthcare are long overdue. “If you look at the majority of health system delivery models across the world, they are a 19th-century concept – people rock up to a physical building, wait in line, have their appointment and off they go again. The information and the power lies with the medical expert.”
In 2018, patient expectations are dramatically different, he says. “This is in keeping with what we see in other industries – for example, banking. People expect to do so much online, they are starting to expect the same from healthcare and not be tied to this archaic model. Wearables allow for remote monitoring – patients are asking why can’t these be used instead of them having to attend a hospital.”
Meeting these enhanced patient expectations presents challenges for healthcare systems across the world, admits Daly. “Yet at the end of the day, these advances have positive cost and practical benefits for health systems – more physical buildings are not needed, and waiting lists reduce.”
He gives the example of the services that US health insurer Kaiser Permanente provides; in addition to a hospital network, the insurer offers telehealth and telemedicine services, and aims to provide a majority of care in the community. “Even going back as far 2012, 50 per cent of their consultations were done electronically.”
Daly says Ireland is still starting to put the building blocks in place that will enable these types of offerings become the norm. “Progress is not as quick as everyone would probably like, but they are not alien concepts, which is very encouraging. If you put an accountant’s hat on it, it makes sense. Making interventions before they become ill, in their own home setting, this saves all the expense of entering hospital. It does require investment earlier on in the chain, but all the evidence would suggest that from a finance perspective, it is a more efficient use of resources, while being better for the patient.”
If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Kelan Daly, Director, Management Consulting - Healthcare, KPMG in Ireland.
This article originally appeared in the Irish Times and is reproduced here with their kind permission.