Digital solutions benefit patients in all areas of medical care
From registration to post-discharge – digital solutions can make medical care safer, easier and more efficient in many areas, says Gerrit Schick, head of Health Informatics DACH at Philips GmbH. What is needed for the digital patient journey to succeed is an open eco-system that combines medical information systems of all kinds with patient applications while strictly adhering to international standards and providing access to data for patient-relevant analyses.
This the first year that Philips has become a Gold Partner at DMEA. How important is health IT for your company?
Having just arrived on the market with our Tasy hospital information system (HIS) the company is seen as a newcomer. At the same time, we have long been established in health IT with specialist solutions in areas such as radiology, cardiology and intensive care. The fact that we have now become a Gold Partner at DMEA shows that Philips’ health IT branch is becoming increasingly independent. We have a wide range of IT solutions for the entire hospital market. That is not an add-on to the medical product arm but a generic business field that is evolving organically and expanding through acquisitions.
What sets Philips apart from other health IT players?
The fact that we have a wide portfolio means we are not interested in stand-alone scenarios. We take an outward-looking approach and see everything ranging from special systems and platforms to the HIS as being part of an eco-system. This goes hand in hand with a commitment to syntactical and semantic interoperability. We do not want special changes for Germany, but follow international standards instead, as far as possible without any adaptations, as any changes deviate from the standards. Our strict adherence to standards is reflected in our Philips HealthSuite Interoperability Platform which is capable of realising full IHE/FHIR-based internal and external hospital communications.
Including electronic patient files (ePA)?
In the end by filling in electronic patient files, yes. Many traditional HIS suppliers are attempting to realise access to the telematics infrastructure from within the HIS. We do not consider this the right approach. The HIS is indeed usually the main hub. However, if in addition to typical documents such as medical reports, data that necessarily often comes from specialised systems is also transmitted via the TI, then a TI connection via the HIS or a digital archive will soon reach its limits. Our approach is therefore to use an interoperable platform to realise a TI connection. That is more in keeping with the idea of an interoperable eco-system. By allowing a hospital to be more flexible it is also future-proof.
What will you focus on at DMEA?
We are definitely presenting the Philips HealthSuite Interoperability Platform, and interoperability is one of the main topics we will be communicating. At DMEA our focus will also be on applications that are relevant in the context of the Hospital Future Act (KHZG). In particular we want to show how digital solutions can offer a benefit during the various treatment stages of a patient journey. That is also the concept of our 30-minute Solutions Hub session, part of the DMEA congress programme, which will take place on 8 June 2021 from 11.30 a.m. to 12 noon. Philips Engage is an important element here. On the one hand this solution features a patient portal, thereby fulfilling KHZG Item 2 funding criteria. But it is also more than that. It is a patient-focused communications platform, which not only transfers data back and forth, but which we can also use to provide “genuine” medical assistance. We are also using this technology in our telemedicine applications, ranging from COPD to PAVK, which then fulfils KHZG Item 9 funding criteria. Accordingly, the Engage platform is a certified medical product, and that sets us apart from many others.
Aside from telemedicine applications and patient portals, in which areas do patients benefit from digital solutions?
In every area. Just two examples. In compliance with KHZG Item 1 funding criteria we are marketing a new configuration of our PerformanceFlow solution for emergency units, which using technologies such as infrared, RFID and WiFi can locate patients and mobile equipment such as ultrasound devices and which, via a connection to other hospital software systems makes it possible to monitor processes. Initially that may not sound beneficial to the patient. However, it streamlines emergency treatment with automated decision-making in real time and therefore greatly benefits the patient. I would also like to mention digital alert system algorithms which represent a type of decision-making support and fulfil Item 4 funding criteria. They alert personnel whenever vital statistics deteriorate or indicate any changes in laboratory, vital statistic or monitoring data. It forms part of our IntelliSpace Critical Care PDMS for intensive care units. With our Guardian system we also have an option for normal hospital wards, which automatically helps to rapidly detect a deteriorating condition. In the case of infections, for instance in a situation prior to severe sepsis, or in the case of respiratory and vascular disorders. Early identification of vulnerable patients and subsequent treatment not only reduces the burden on staff, but also measurably improves treatment results, and is quantifiable by a decline in hospital deaths for example. Thus, digitalisation can genuinely give patient safety a boost. I am convinced that in the future we will see a lot more applications like these. Digitalisation definitely protects patients.