As patients become more active in managing their own healthcare, their expectations around the digital information and services delivered by providers and payer organizations continue to grow. We spoke with Neil Currie, a Vancouver-based senior consultant and delivery lead for NTT Data Services, about how these expectations affect healthcare IT investments in Canada.
How have patient expectations around healthcare services changed?
Today’s patients expect to engage healthcare services, obtain information, and manage more of their healthcare activity online. At a minimum, they want a web portal to see medical records, send a message to a physician, and obtain information on healthy living. But in an era when services from a car ride to meal delivery can be easily scheduled through a smartphone app, patients are increasingly frustrated that they can’t book their medical appointments online as well.
In addition to changing patient expectations, what other friction factors exist in Canada’s current healthcare environment?
Healthcare IT leaders face an ongoing struggle with getting budget and staff resources for IT projects that go beyond basic operations and support for clinical services. These constraints make it very difficult for IT to implement the technologies that will enable new ways of doing business for their organizations.
How will the provincial health plans and provider organizations address these challenges with new technology investments?
Shared services and cloud hosting for both core IT infrastructure and clinical services are the major areas of focus for new technology investments. For example, there is strong interest in moving telehealth systems to standard infrastructure components as a way of reducing the expense and management burden that exists with today’s specialized equipment. IT teams are also looking at how technology can make their operations more efficient, such as for handling the routine tasks of managing desktop computers.
And there’s a strong interest in providing the technology to support data analytics, for example, by making electronic medical records more useful for obtaining intelligence on patient care and to support the coming trend of personalized health care for patients. Data analytics will also be important in the shift to provider measurement and payment models based on population health outcomes.
What do Canadian healthcare organizations expect from IT right now?
Given the intense scrutiny by lawmakers and the media that comes with public funding of healthcare, IT projects need to show both a strong business case and relationship to clinical services and outcomes. As one example, a project to collect data on wound care in long-term care facilities led to a reduction in the average time to heal, which benefited patients and reduced the associated costs.
Thank you, Neil, for sharing these helpful insights. It’s clear that investments in new technology will continue to be critical for enabling continuous improvement and innovation across the entire Canadian healthcare spectrum.
Healthcare IT Investments Around the Globe
Healthcare organizations worldwide are using new technology investments to drive digital business, reduce costs, and make improvements in patient care and safety.
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