Connected Care: Leadership voices and thoughts at the HIMSS Australia Digital Health Summit

C-suite leaders in healthcare shared on the fundamentals, challenges and potential of connected care at the HIMSS Australia Digital Health Summit.
By Dean Koh
04:24 AM

Connected Care has a range of meanings in healthcare – is it about care or health? Or is it referring to a longitudinal health record? What are the foundational pieces that sit under Connected Care? In the context of Australia, the starting point of Connected Care lies in the My Health Record, which is an online summary of one’s key health information.

At the CXO dialogue session of the HIMSS Australia Digital Health Summit, one of the challenges raised regarding connected care is the lack of an electronic discharge summary after patients are discharged from a hospital or care center. This often means that they are at a loss when it comes to the proper follow-ups. A salient point shared by a dialogue participant is that Connected Care is about the person who is being cared for, not just the health record or data. Ultimately, it is about the reality of the situation for the person.

With the consumerization of healthcare and the high penetration of mobile phone use especially for those under 35, there presents massive opportunities for a personalized engagement in Connected Care. This may in the form of health booking apps or messaging apps. A key question for healthcare providers/organizations to think about is to consider how consumer-patient expectations are changing, how they can understand their needs better and adapt to these changes.

Thoughts on Connected Care – A fireside chat

Mary Foley, Managing Director of Telstra Health, shared her thoughts on Connected Care in the context of Australia: “The first place you need to start is to actually understand health systems and processes of healthcare delivery, for population health and looking at public-private health interventions that can benefit the whole population.”

“There is also a need to understand health systems are funded, there’s really a limited number of ways to pay for healthcare,” she added.

Tim Kelsey, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Digital Health Agency, observed that there is a shift in policy thinking around the relationship between reimbursement models and the adoption of technology to improve convenience and quality of outcomes for patients. When asked on how to better enable and integrated connected care by Hal Wolf, Chief Executive Officer of HIMSS, Kelsey said that the very first foundational infrastructure for that to happen is universal healthcare.

Subsequently, what comes in at a close second is shared care plans, according to Kelsey. “One of the defining moments of all the digital investment in healthcare is that it enables the caretaker to dynamically and in real-time, share information so that the person can be cared for in a more coordinated manner,” he said.

He explained that although there are some tools that currently exist, the larger problem is that care plans are largely conducted by means of older technologies and it is ineffective because detailed information is not communicated.

Although there are lessons for the healthcare industry to learn from the finance and airline industries in terms of their enablement of digital tools as Kelsey explained, Foley argued that healthcare is much more complex compared to those industries. She said that it is up to the (healthcare) vendor community, supported by the right regulatory environment, to come up with products and solutions that actually work better and helps both clinicians and patients. 

Kelsey agreed with what Foley said about the complexity of the healthcare industry, and the outcomes of personalized service that came from the transformation of the finance and airline industries is something that the healthcare industry can benefit from. For instance, the automation in healthcare is a pre-condition for the subsequent development of a whole range of new models of care, which essentially provides person-centered care planning and delivers the care that cannot be done without digital foundations in place. 

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Above image: Medical staff at the Samsung Medical Center wear sync cams during a surgical procedure. Credit: KT

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