Connecting the Health Ecosystem: A Doctor’s View

digital health patient DXC Blogs

These days we all get a great digital experience from banking, transport and retail. But we get a completely different — and often substandard — experience when receiving or delivering health care.

As doctors, we know that the digital experience we deliver to our patients is not always what they expect. We also know that, for the most part, they usually forgive us because of the treasured nature of the doctor-patient relationship. I am not sure how much longer this will last.

We also are acutely aware that we are often responsible for delivering only one aspect of a patient’s care, and that a more “joined-up” approach to data and insight generation would allow us to deliver better care for individual patients and gain greater understanding with which to improve healthcare systems for the benefit of the population.

As a cardiac surgeon, I used to work with a mixture of paper and digital systems, and often logged into multiple systems for different purposes. I was aware that those systems did not “talk” to each other, and on occasion, I knew that patients were at risk because of the lack of critical information at the point of care. I also spent much time entering data in duplicate to fulfil quality improvement and regulatory requirements.

As a clinician, I had a passion for collecting data on how my patients did whilst under my care. However, I knew little about what happened to them after discharge, including short-term outcomes such as admission to other hospitals (which is not infrequent after cardiac surgery), or longer-term outcomes such as freedom from angina, prevention of myocardial infarction, or recurrence of significant mitral regurgitation.

I was also conscious that my personal investment in technology, which I use for multiple purposes, did not support my ability to deliver care for patients. This was disappointing, particularly when setting the potential benefits of the technology I owned against the current level of infrastructure available in many UK hospitals.

One of the things I’ve been closely involved with our Open Health Connect approach. This is both a philosophy and a technology solution, which supports better care for patients by bringing together data from within hospitals and across organisations in a wider health economy.

The integration engine, Viaduct, enables collation of huge volumes of data from many different platforms including, but by no means restricted to, our products. This creates a “data fabric”, a more holistic view of patients in as close to real time as necessary. It means hospitals and wider health economies can leverage their existing investments in digital solutions, and increasingly it will also support the use of patient-held data to augment traditional data sources.

As a result, collated data will enhance direct patient care by feeding insights into the specific workflow of clinicians, giving them the ability to understand current outcomes from a patient — not a single organisational — perspective. This can be done by providing a view of what has happened, what is happening and what is likely to happen across healthcare systems by utilising data visualisation tools and advanced machine learning. I am convinced that this approach to understanding data is essential for supporting system-wide quality improvement, constraining costs and fulfilling regulatory requirements, which is all fundamental as we change from an organisational focus towards a citizen-centric approach.

On top of this “data fabric” is an API gateway. This offers a platform for applications including our products, best-of-breed third-party products, and existing or newly developed in-house tools to use a rich, ecosystem-wide dataset, including both organisational and personal data. The result will be delivery of a digital experience to patients and clinicians that is aligned with citizens’ expectations elsewhere in the digitally transformed world, including optimal usability and security standards compatible with the needs of sensitive patient-identifiable data.


Ben Bridgewater, Senior Principle Industry Strategist, Healthcare, DXC, and former cardiac surgeon

RELATED LINKS

Listening in to healthcare consumers

Staying Connected: Leveraging Data Across the Healthcare Enterprise

Constructing a continuum of trust in healthcare IT

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