March 26, 2023

WHILE the Covid-19 pandemic was a wake-up call for hospitals to drum up their digitalization efforts, two IT (information technology) experts believe that health institutions still have a long way to go in their digital transformation.

Dr. Mike Muin, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Metro Pacific Health Tech, a telemedicine services company of Metro Pacific Investments Co., noted that many hospitals continue to struggle to meet the digitalization attempts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But the good news is that many hospitals are already aware of this call for change and have started working on their own digital change initiatives, ” Dr . Muin said.

The same view was shared by Brett Medel, CIO of Asian Institute associated with Management (AIM), who said the pandemic forced private hospitals and the particular rest of the health-care ecosystem in order to step up their particular digitalization initiatives. He mentioned that the THIS departments of the various hospitals had to scramble for technology solutions and raise funds for their digitalization efforts.

Catalyst with regard to digital modification

“IN the IT world, we have got an anecdote that this pandemic is the best catalyst for electronic transformation. No hospital was ready for the particular digitalization and online requirements that were in demand throughout the period, ” said Medel, who, prior to joining AIM, was CIO of the leading tertiary hospital plus a telecommunications company.

“Everything contactless is the name of the game so the use associated with the Internet for payment gateways and online consultation was at an all-time high. Doctors needed to learn how to use Zoom and other online conference call platforms in order to communicate with the medical staff plus their patients. IT became a fundamental necessity to connect, ” he added.

Doctor Mike Muin, Chief Information Officer, City Pacific Wellness Tech

According to Dr. Muin, hospitals face three main challenges within their journey towards digitalization. The first challenge is to determine whether the hospital is ready to take up this journey since it will require a lot of changes within process. Second, this will entail a budget.

“IT projects have cost. The particular first two years of the pandemic greatly reduced the particular census associated with patients, and thus, the cash flow of hospitals. Hospital owners now need to balance between the need to modernize versus the have to keep running, ” he stated.

The third challenge that clinics face is the availability of solutions in the market.

“The sad state of our health-care IT ecosystem is that even if there is a clear need, there are few or no locally available products that will meet the demand. Sometimes, hostipal wards need to go out of the particular country in order to get the solutions regarding their problems, ” Dr . Muin mentioned.

Resistance to change

ANOTHER challenge Medel noted will be the need to address “the organization’s resistance to change and employee pushback. ”

“The hospital’s current processes plus culture need to be shaken in order to welcome innovations that may even change the business models to be able to accommodate the particular demands from the situation. Digital DNA must be injected in every blood stream of the hospital, but this is the painful process. It is not about technology; it is about the people, culture and procedure, ” he said.

Medel also pointed out the need to put in place air-tight security programs and solutions because the healthcare industry is very particular regarding data privacy.

“Since private hospitals are dealing with sensitive personal information, it is important that an air-tight security program and solutions are implemented across the organization, not to mention the information protection campaigns that will have to be conducted on a regular basis, ” this individual said.

Brett Medel, Chief Info Officer, Hard anodized cookware Institute associated with Management

Better appreciation of data plus technology

IN addition to realizing the need to digitalize, Doctor Muin said there is usually a better appreciation associated with data and technology.

“More specifically, hospitals now understand the value of having access to data and harnessing the convergence of technologies to deliver better patient care. The almost overnight adoption of telemedicine is a testament to that, where we are able to talk in order to patients via video, while accessing their medical records electronically plus also working together with partners through collaboration tools, ” he or she said.

He added that if a hospital is focused on efficiency, the hospital would be a better candidate for digital transformation.

“Also, technical options to issues do not really need to be expensive. They just need to be well thought out and available in order to the local market. There are free and affordable open-source solutions that can work together and provide value to the clinical treatment process, ” Dr. Muin said.

The need to digitalize is more pressing right now more than ever because of the implementation from the Universal Health Care Act, which requires the patient’s healthcare records to be obtainable from the particular primary in order to the tertiary care level.

“The bad news is the fact that we are not 100 percent ready but the good news is that will everyone is working together to get there. You will find already pockets of innovation among primary health care centers, among local government units and partner health-care providers to make sure that the particular goals plus objective associated with the UHC are met. Everyone today sees the value of electronic medical records from primary treatment up to tertiary care. Even individuals now see the value of having access to their own medical information online, ” Dr. Muin said.

Web infrastructure

MEDEL emphasized the necessity to make sure that internet infrastructure should be made accessible even in the remotest regions in the Philippines to ensure that the particular goals of UHC are usually met.

“The integration associated with the health systems and electronic wellness records of every Filipino should be made accessible at the barangay degree. The lack of healthcare resources in the rural areas will force the use of technology to reach every Filipino in the particular far-flung area towards the Philippines. But exactly how can that happen if the Internet infrastructure is not readily available inside those areas? ” Medel said.

As to just how hospitals can move forward in their electronic transformation trip, both experts agreed on the need in order to create a core group that will spearhead the program. This team must be composed of members with multi-disciplinary functions across the organization—IT, Operations, Administration, Medical.

“They have to define what they want to achieve, what company model they want to offer or transform in this digital plus virtual globe, ” Medel said.

Transformation strategy

DR . MUIN additional that this is important that hospitals come up with a digital alteration strategy that fits into the culture, values and budget of the particular hospital.

“It’s important to do it right the first time. If you may do it right and fast the first time, that would be ideal. There are many options but there are zero short cuts to effective digital change for better. Aside through technical options, focus on having effective leadership in place plus getting the particular buy in and full support of key stakeholders in the hospital, ” he stated.

“Despite what health THIS vendors might say, you cannot buy success via expensive software. It takes strategy, management, and collaboration to make it function, ” he added.

Image credits: Shao-Chun Wang | Dreamstime. com

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