Going digital in the era of constant change

Quick access to reliable and accurate information, Dr Han Boon Oh observes, is key to more efficient care and fewer medication errors.

What we know ten years ago is now obsolete knowledge. Change is inevitable, and thus, uncomfortable. But the healthcare industry need not flinch, especially at a time when patients have increasingly complex medical needs.

Dr Han Boon Oh, Deputy Chief Medical Informatics Officer and Associate Consultant of General Surgery (Breast and Endocrine Surgery) at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, National University Health System in Singapore, navigates through these complexities with fast access to medical information. In an interview with Hospital Insights Asia, he shares how updated information is critical in providing care and preventing medication errors.

Better care and higher physician confidence

“Information is crucial in providing care,” Dr Oh emphasises, “since I was a student, I have been enjoying the convenience of UpToDate® and now I am using the app on my smartphone to have quick access to medical information I need.”

For doctors to come up with the best clinical decisions at the point of care, the information they must have at their fingertips have to be accurate and credible. Links to referenced publications, peer-reviewed journals, and recently published discoveries help care providers evaluate the available information, thereby allowing them to make quick but precise decisions for patients.

Relying on evidence-based medicine practices

Medical breakthroughs, new drugs, new clinical trials, and newly debunked healthcare myths are important information that has to be readily available. A doctor cannot rely on “what he knows” just because “it has worked before and for other patients” because, like drugs, information changes over time, too. Otherwise, patients are at risk of serious harm, additional cost, and longer treatment. In the long run, hospitals and physicians carry the burden of an inefficient and inferior quality of care.

But with easy access to up-to-date information, physicians at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, Dr Oh believes, will be more confident about their clinical practice knowing they are able to give the best treatment for patients.

Dr Oh, for instance, gets to know what’s new in surgery as well as the latest recommendations for surgical topics like groin hernia repairs. UpToDate®, he shares, provides the most recent landmark publications divided into various subspecialties, The “Practice Changing Updates” section in UpToDate highlights selected specific new recommendations that may have a significant and broad impact on practice,  and “this is one of the main things [he] like[s] about using this resource.”

Likewise, in the time of COVID-19, doctors know what to do because they have the updated research and guidelines for appropriate care.

Reducing medication errors

Errors are not an option in healthcare. Hospitals cannot afford to lose patients because these mistakes are generally preventable. Hospitals likewise do not want to lose revenue; these errors already cost the industry more than $42 billion.

There is an overwhelming number of available medications, and this is both good and bad news for physicians, especially when treating an ageing population. This group of patients has increasingly complex medical needs, therefore, multiple medications that need to work concomitantly and safely are prescribed.

Again, solutions proven to have worked several years ago may no longer work today. Physicians, therefore, benefit from having accurate drug information at their fingertips to prevent medication errors and help patients avoid long hospital stays, serious harm, and unnecessary cost.

This is where Ng Teng Fong General Hospital sees the advantage of using Lexicomp®, which provides evidence-based referential drug information. With a few quick taps, pharmacists, nurses, and physicians can search for drug information for common medications. The tool also proves useful in making the best and safest drug decisions for each patient.

While there are other factors associated with medication errors, it cannot be taken for granted how quick access to credible and evidence-based information can elevate the standards of care expected from care providers.

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About UpToDate® and Lexicomp®

Lexicomp® drug information and UpToDate® treatment recommendations are developed by a multidisciplinary team of clinical experts to speak with one voice so your various team members can be united and confident in their decision making.

Lexicomp® and UpToDate® decision support provide:

  • The latest evidence, synthesized for use on the frontlines
  • Expertise from specialists and subspecialists
  • Daily surveillance and practice-changing updates

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