With North Americas boomers in their 60s healthcare is approaching a critical time in history. How do countries provide healthcare without the benefit of a traditionally large tax base? Faced by the same problems plaguing corporations (doing more with less) Governments and hospitals must find innovative ways of supporting their budgets and streamlining their business.
So what are the problems? A quote from the President "All these problems – high costs, uncertain value, medical errors, variable quality, administrative inefficiencies, and poor coordination – are closely connected to our failure to use health information technology as an integral part of medical care."
More specifcally, how can technology help? Lets look at some of the biggest problems in healthcare:
- A patient’s vital medical information is scattered across medical records kept by many different caregivers in many different locations – and all of the patient’s medical information is often unavailable at the time of care. For example, patients with medical emergencies too often are seen by doctors with no access to their critical medical information, such as allergies, current treatments or medications, and prior diagnoses.
- Physicians keep information about drugs, drug interactions, managed care formularies, clinical guidelines, and recent research in memory – a difficult task given the high volume of information.
Medical orders and prescriptions are handwritten and are too often misunderstood or not followed in accordance with the physician’s instructions.
- Consumers lack access to useful, credible health information about treatment alternatives, which hospitals and physicians are best for their needs, or their own health status.
- Physicians do not always have the best information to select the best treatments for their patients, resulting in an unacceptable lag time before new scientific advances are used in patient care. They also do not have ready access to complete information about their patients, do not know how other doctors are treating their same patients, or how other health care providers around the country treat patients with the same condition. These conditions set the stage for preventable medical errors.
I’m not saying that SharePoint is the complete answer to the above, there are industry applications such as those offered by McKesson that address the specific needs of Healthcare. I would say that SharePoint could be the key building block that provides the integrated view of the Hospital, its patients and staff. The outcome of the integrated view would be:
- Central access to patient records systems
- Workflows to spawn requests for patient records and related information
- Online information for drugs and research information
- Access to health information, preventative measures alternative treatments
- Access to communities of practice/profession/interest to assist with research and professional development
- Efficient communications using communities, alerts and other pull type communications
- A public facing internet presence for the community to access Hospital resources
Ther are many possibilities.