Global trends show that the best solution for the future of digital healthcare is a single digital healthcare platform, where systems are no longer integrated at the application level but at the data level, thus building a lifelong patient record. The data is stored in an openEHR standard, and access to it is provided to all applications and individuals when they need it. This way, data is not lost even when solutions are changed.
This solution was presented by Anže Droljc, Business Development Director at Better, at the Zdravstveni razvojni forum in Portorož on Thursday, 10 March 2022. He said that healthcare is changing, that it is moving from inpatient to outpatient and home treatment, that people want greater involvement in managing their health and that they demand full access to their data and patient records. Covid-19 pandemic accelerated innovation and new approaches to providing remote health services.
Healthcare professionals and IT managers are dissatisfied with the state of digitalisation in hospitals and healthcare systems, mainly due to outdated systems and the incompatibility of different systems, but also due to redundant bureaucracy. "We need a new approach, the integration of all systems into a single digital record, where data would follow the patient, and to this, we would connect various user-friendly solutions," said Droljc.
Open and available data
“Structured data must be stored in a way that does not depend on the individual application, but is accessible and understandable to all stakeholders in healthcare and stored for the entire life of the patient. OpenEHR is a standard that allows data to be stored independently of applications, data is open, accessible to anyone in the system, and understandable," he said.
The solution that is being introduced by more and more hospitals and healthcare systems abroad is a digital healthcare platform where the focus is on data stored independently of applications. Thus begins the formation of a single patient record, which is independent of the individual solution provider, and the solutions begin to connect at the level of data and not applications. If the data is stored in an openEHR standard, access to data is provided to anyone who needs it, and medical professionals can begin to build solutions and algorithms, even a library of clinical concepts that they share with others.
Such systems function at the level of hospitals as well as on the regional level, where individual healthcare providers can connect with each other. “So we have one patient and one comprehensive digital record that connects different solutions and different people who come in contact with the patient. Patient data is available to everyone who needs it, and at the same time it is not lost," said Better's Business Development Director.
Digital healthcare platform use cases:
- The Pediatric Clinic within the University Medical Center Ljubljana has a single patient record in the center, which is structured and built on the openEHR standard, and above there are various IT solutions from different providers. Data is separated from applications and stored in a way that is understandable to end-users and freely accessible.
- Slovenia has an interoperability backbone that is built on an openEHR standard.
- Nine leading university hospitals in Germany use the openEHR standard to collect data needed for research. The digital healthcare platform and the openEHR standard allow them to consolidate data from all IT systems as they connect them, and to easily extend the patient’s digital record to additional specialties. Anyone who undertakes particular research, always has access to all the data from previous research, while using data from a single platform, which saves even more time.
- Oxford NHS trust uses a digital healthcare platform, as well as a medication management platform, and a clinical portal that provides a single entry point for all healthcare professionals where they can access patient data.
- The Christie NHS trust introduced a digital healthcare platform based on the openEHR standard and solved two problems - they set up a single patient record where data of all verticals are stored (treatment, research, clinical studies, remote patient treatment, ...), and they also got the foundation to redesign their digital solutions in a way that they can work with different providers and build an ecosystem of digital solutions over a single patient record.
- OneLondon started to introduce a regional model of care, so they opted for a digital platform and a single patient record while building clinical concepts that are made by professionals.
- An openEHR based regional digital healthcare platform is being introduced in Catalunya.
Slovenia has a great foundation for the digital platform
Droljc pointed out Slovenia's opportunities. Healthcare systems abroad are organised into regions and regional models of treatment, where the patient is treated comprehensively across all levels of treatment, which could be done for the whole of Slovenia. We have a mature infrastructure, well-digitised hospitals, information solutions at the primary level, and a backbone that connects it all together. We also have a unique resident identifier and know how to identify an individual well, no matter where in the health system he finds himself.
"But we also have some challenges. We need to create a more competitive environment to make it easier for new companies, innovative solutions, smart applications, ... to enter the digitalisation of healthcare. We need to promote the idea of open data that is not in the hands of individual providers but is based on a standard and start building ecosystems, as they already do abroad. It is also necessary to establish teams of experts who will deal with the digitalisation of healthcare in hospitals and at the national level," concluded Droljc.