Goldpartner-Interview: Smart IT, Smarter Care
January 30, 2020 – The expansion of digitalization in health care has been under way for some time now. It is, therefore, essential to reflect on how health care cannot only catch up with digitalization efforts made in other industries or countries, but actively drive innovations. Stefan Radatz, Cerner’s regional general manager for Central and Eastern Europe, and managing director for Cerner Germany and Austria, provides an insight into the next generation of hospital information systems.
The subject of digitalization in health care is experiencing a surge in Germany. Legislation has established a clear framework and specific timelines, and providers receive funds to invest in digitalization. Everything seems to be well underway then, correct?
Germany has successfully and extensively managed to establish and develop infrastructures for health care IT. This has been a necessary and important step. We now have to implement these efforts and truly exploit all opportunities of health care IT. Currently, hospitals in Germany mainly use EHR systems for documentation purposes – and we need to introduce a new approach.
What needs to change in Germany?
Digitalization and new technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, have great potential to streamline health care. This also includes solutions that are increasingly patient-centered. For example, diagnostics and therapies are more often tailored to the patients. If we really want to operate in such a way that is both efficient and economically worthwhile, we need an IT infrastructure that reflects treatment processes, allows for the sharing of information, supports medical staff during routine activities and – most importantly – engages the patient. This said, we cannot only rely on electronic data collection or processes supported by IT anymore. Instead, we require innovative ideas and applications that increase the quality and safety of treatments. For example, if an ambulance could transfer patient information directly to the emergency department, it would be possible to coordinate staff and resources before the patient arrives.
What does the IT infrastructure require to fulfill this?
It is essential that data is not only transferred across different areas of health care – it must also be processed using appropriate applications. This requires the implementation of modern, open-architecture industry standards, such as FHIR, and terminologies or nomenclatures like LOINC or SNOMED, overcoming traditional health care structures. As medicine becomes increasingly specialized, the requirements applications must meet become more and more compartmentalized and individual as well. However, such services can only be orchestrated on the basis of a stable, innovative platform. At the same time, IT security demands increase, especially for critical infrastructures, such as hospitals. Even large hospitals with well-equipped IT departments are facing major challenges. The future of a custom and safe IT infrastructure will, therefore, not consist in the server room of individual hospitals, but rather in the responsibility of specialized providers. Simply put, in the cloud.
What will be the characteristics of the next generation of EHR systems?
Looking towards the future, we envision a fully standardized EHR hosted for hospitals. ‘Standardized’ means an EHR that is genuinely based on standards and not simply connected to a communication server. In our opinion, this represents a quantum leap in health care IT. We are therefore working on executable out-of-the-box process elements directly available in the EHR. Consequently, less effort is required to provide our clients with seamless solutions tailored to their specific needs. These solutions can then be complemented by certified products from our app store partners, thus allowing us to address several challenges: applications are developed and maintained by highly specialized professionals, creating data and system security. The solutions are continuously improved and provided directly to all end users, making innovations accessible to more providers in less time and enabling all users to work with an up-to-date system. Hence, our applications do not only focus on comfort, but also on a higher level of security and faster innovation cycles with less effort and fewer costs.
What is the benefit for patients?
IT is getting smarter, which means that it can actively support medical staff during their daily work by anticipating processes, analyzing data, and providing information quickly and in real time. Providers can efficiently exchange data and it´s easy to connect to third-party solutions. As a result, IT can increasingly support clinicians during decision-making processes and reduce routine tasks. In conclusion, if IT gets smarter, treatments can get smarter as well and providers can spend more time with their patients. It is now imperative to position the infrastructure in the best possible way in order to contribute to the future of medicine and to continuously improve treatment processes – for the well-being of patients. We look forward to presenting our vision for the EHR of the future in more detail at DMEA 2020. We invite all attendees to visit us at booth B-107 in hall 4.2.