Connecting the dots in connected healthcare in Asia Pacific

What are the challenges and opportunities in connected healthcare in the region?

By Adrian M. Reodique
Nov. 24, 2016

Importance of Electronic Health Records

Meanwhile, Smoulders pointed out that the ability of healthcare organisations to provide a connected health service depends on their ability to have an Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR) or Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system.

"In the U.S., this is government-mandated, whereas the APAC region this is largely dependent on the economic climate of each country as well as each country's governing body and corresponding specific laws or regulations. Without these data-driven patient records and systems, delivering technology-driven and connected, provider-to-patient, healthcare is impossible," Smoulders explained.

HIMSS Asia Pacific - an organisation which focuses on health transformation through health IT - defines EHR as a digital copy of all patient related information like medical history, medications, prescriptions, and lab results. The EHR is a real-time system; every update added to the record is thus stored almost instantly. Essentially, the organisation noted that the data in the system can be used to created evidence-based tools that can help doctors better understand their patients thus make informed decisions.

In addition, Smoulders explained that an EHR/EMR system enables other innovative technologies to rapidly demonstrate return on investments, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), data integration, analytics and monitoring solutions.

He said, for instance, analytics play an important role for the Health Level Seven (HL7) protocol. HL7 is one of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) - accredited Standards Developing Organisations (SDOs) that operate in the healthcare field.

According to their website, HL7 provides standards for interoperability that improve care delivery, optimise workflow, reduce ambiguity and enhance knowledge transfer among their stakeholders which include healthcare providers, government agencies, vendor community, other SDOs, and patients.

"If HL7 messages are not delivered or generate errors, then patient admission information, billing details, laboratory results and other critical data cannot be passed from one system to another. With access to HL7 data, connected healthcare organisations benefit from real-time troubleshooting, early-warning alerts, and clinical informatics at a level that was previously unimaginable," said Smoulders.

In a nutshell, he noted that using an EHR/EMR does not only improve the quality care for patients but make their daily tasks more efficient. "Additionally, healthcare organisations experience more intelligent security, such as the ability to monitor file directories containing sensitive information, including failed login attempts," he added. 

Better patient care

When done properly, healthcare organisations in the region can reap significant benefits from using connected healthcare. "More intelligent, adaptive healthcare IT systems fuel connected healthcare experiences that can increase employee productivity, reduce medical errors, and most importantly, allow organisations to use their data to improve the effectiveness of treatment for patients," said Thomas. 

He cited, for example, the details extracted from web transactions and HL7 messages can help healthcare organisations in the region understand how other physicians are using applications, tracking patient flow through hospitals, and monitoring wait times across facilities. "This ability helped save one customer over US$400k annually by cutting average troubleshooting workflows from days to a matter of hours," he added.

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