Despite the uptake of practices using EMRs, the country’s struggle to capture COVID-related data and the presence of health information systems that are not interoperable exposed the need for EMR, hospital and clinic systems’ that contribute and empower the greater health sector.
It is nearly impossible to create or build healthcare capacity during a pandemic. Hospitals everywhere struggle with staffing and bed resources to keep up with Covid surges while preventing infections. The lack of clear political strategy and guidance seems to leave health providers fending for themselves.
Yet, it is these types of situations that also enlighten and ultimately force a reckoning for businesses. In healthcare, it is not just about finding a means to stay afloat. It is a matter of ensuring survival of staff and populace. It is about how to improve and extend patient services while contributing to the greater need of containing the pandemic.
Need for EMR and Clinic Systems: How it can help.
If it wasn’t as clear before, it has become imperative that any operating business will need to invest in IT and digital solutions. It is about finding systems that answer core business requirements while also being equipped to support functionalities yet to be identified. For hospitals and clinics, it is not enough that systems and applications exist only for internal consumption. Systems need to enable them to participate and share health data (in a secure manner) to reach patients. They need to contribute information to guide policies for the greater population.
For medical practices, the shift and need for EMR has grown rapidly in the last few years. This is apparent in larger clinical practices offering a variety of medical and diagnostic services across a network of branches. Ease of coordination, as well as seamless transactions, give these clinics an advantage. They offer a more well-rounded patient experience that mirrors that of a tertiary hospital but at a more affordable cost.
Why does the need for EMR constantly arise? EMRs allow users to coordinate care across various specialties. The system provides the entire clinic and its team of doctors the needed information about the patient at every turn. With available patient data, the practice is likely to adapt towards providing more evidence-based care.
Outpatient clinics need to step up to provide help to hospitals. Clinics can provide triage as a first line of care for patients before going directly to hospitals. As vaccination programs roll-out, clinics across the country can be viable centers given their experience providing immunizations. At this time, multi-specialty and diagnostic clinics can be a safe haven for patients needing medical help while avoiding the high risk of infection in hospitals.
Such a larger role requires that clinic management systems cannot just be about the need for an EMR. Clinic systems will need to be mini-hospital information systems (HIS) except without the support for admission and its supporting modules.
Like hospital systems, the clinic system orchestrates a team of doctors, nurses and other users across different sections organized by medical specialty, different laboratory or even outpatient surgical care. Support for an integrated online patient portal and telemedicine are fast becoming the norm since the pandemic. Imagine a doctor providing teleconsultation without need to open another application for accessing and updating the patient’s electronic medical records!
These functionalities are critical to ensuring that medical services will remain operational while reducing physical contact. With a portal, the patients are provided a tool by which they can update their records and provide feedback on their medical outcomes.
Breaking Silos and Transmit Covid-related Data
Maintaining a single source of patient information across multiple branches is just as important. Firstly, the patient will have more options not limited by location for in-person services such as laboratory and diagnostic tests. This ensures that doctors and other care professionals view updated and complete patient records regardless of clinic branch which opens potential for further interoperability. With consolidated patient records inside clinic systems, clinics have in their possession, valuable data. Data that can yield patient insights and provide information on future services and investment as well.
In the fight against Covid, using information from paper records seems almost anecdotal at best. For any viable health program to succeed in this pandemic, data needs to guide the plans. Surviving the pandemic needs the entire health sector — both public and private, to work together. Hospitals and clinics will need to pay attention to the needs of population health for Covid data as well. Using the right hospital information and clinic systems is vital for transmitting and collecting health information and statistics. This is important in creating a holistic health plan for cities, provinces and ultimately an entire country.
The Covid situation is like being part of an ongoing global research study. It is both tragic but one which hopefully, with available data, will strengthen and lift healthcare standards everywhere.
In the Philippines, this means that IT systems used by hospitals and clinics need to comply with the required standards set forth by the Department of Health (DOH) as well as Philhealth. Systems with these certifications not only give health facilities the license to legally operate but show a commitment to contribute to improving healthcare beyond its four walls. By taking advantage of information systems, care institutions give themselves and their patients a fighting chance to survive the pandemic and continue to be relevant players in the healthcare business as well.
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