Interoperability: a prerequisite to guarantee high quality patient care
The safety and quality of patient care in healthcare organisations now requires medical data flow to be managed appropriately. In order to optimise the time healthcare professionals spend at work and enable them to act quickly in the event of an emergency, medical devices and IT systems in private and public hospitals must meet global interoperability standards.
Healthcare organisations now produce large quantities of data which is often sensitive due to its confidential nature. This information is even more important as it is used to make medical decisions, about the best course of patient care, to organise treatment and analyse healthcare organisations, or to measure and report on the quality of care delivered. It is also widely used in clinical research, training healthcare professionals and public health information. It is estimated that tens of millions of documents are stored in the healthcare IT systems of medium-sized hospitals.
The amount of healthcare data is expected to reach 2.3 billion gigabytes by 2020. Medical technical departments are the first producers in this area. Vital-data monitoring devices, anaesthetic records and other surgical systems generate very large amounts of information in operating theatres. The same goes for medical analysis laboratories and anatomical pathology units. However, imaging departments use terabytes of data every day as cross-sectional imaging techniques, CT scanners and MRIs or hybrid rooms are at the forefront of this specialty. A lot of information is also produced by many diagnostic or monitoring devices in other units such as intensive care, maternity wards or clinics.
Being able to connect both within and outside hospitals
In healthcare services, especially at the patient’s bedside, devices can now send signals which clinicians need to be able to receive quickly. These are, for example, alarm systems, electrocardiograms, or even connected fall-prevention devices, which must be linked to an efficient distribution channel – not to mention monitoring devices that patients take with them when they leave hospital. In all these cases, patient data must be available quickly so that healthcare professionals can work more efficiently or react to emergencies. When a signal is received instantly by nurses or caregivers, it often increases the patient’s chances of survival. These different devices must be able to communicate with one another so clinicians can easily find and use the information.
The key word to remember when streamlining data exchange between systems is interoperability
The key to success for making devices communicate with each other and to organising information flow is interoperability. Different software programs (administrative, medical, etc.) are not normally able to communicate with one another – it is hard for data to go from point A to point B without any specific development. Using an interoperability solution makes it possible to connect any system and simplifies and automates information exchange. This is how the Martinique E-health Cooperation Group chose to create a shared platform for obstetrics data from the island’s maternity wards in order to provide a regional obstetrics file. To ensure the file contained everything it needed, the maternity wards’ biomedical devices are connected to it through the ENOVACOM Patient Connect solution. This allows clinicians to have a better real-time view of how healthy the patient is.
This is now how the safety and quality of patient care is organised.