Leveraging on data to improve patient care

How should hospitals ensure physicians have access to relevant datapoints and latest medical information?

As head of the Quality Management Division at Makati Medical Center (or MakatiMed for short), Dr. Artemio Cabrera Salvador is well cognizant of the importance of relevant data and information in supporting high levels of clinical effectiveness and quality.

“I see clinical effectiveness as how we efficiently manage our patients, in terms of their improving outcomes, their treatments, their diagnosis, and how we use the data we gather to further improve our hospital’s services,” explained Dr Salvador. With this in mind, MakatiMed, located in Manila, Philippines, leveraged on several technological tools that help to collect and sort patient data, enabling physicians and staff to make data-driven decisions.

Benefits of analytics and automated systems

Usage of business analytics and data visualisation software has been a great help for MakatiMed staff in retrieving data and preparing reports. Dr. Salvador recalls that in the past, operations reports required 3 to 5 days of preparation time, as staff needed to go through different charts manually to pull out the required figures. With the software, the same reports can be prepared in a matter of minutes.

The hospital also uses an automated complaints and incidents tracking system, which generates weekly reports on the issues that have been recorded and filed. This data enables staff and management to identify and take note of trends, or issues that have become more common. Dr Salvador listed the management of patient falls as an example – after noticing that different departments had managed such falls differently, the hospital moved to set up clinical practice guidelines in this area so the procedures are standardised across the hospital. He noted that this system has helped to “improve services to decrease complaints, increase satisfaction of our patients, and at the same time reduce the occurrence of safety-related incidents and adverse events.”

Factors to consider

However, there are many factors that a hospital should take into account when adopting a certain technological tool, to ensure that the full benefits of the tool are realised.

One factor is the user profile. Applications such as Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are to be used by all physicians, and thus need to be adapted for use by all age ranges, from younger to older physicians. Adjustments have to be incorporated in the application to ensure it catered to the unique needs of the users.

Another key factor is interoperability, or how systems operate and work jointly. The hospital needs to look at how the new tool can be used together with existing systems – can data be transmitted between systems seamlessly? Do users need to login to different systems to obtain related data?

A useful, trusted source of information

Providing updated, accurate information – which is also easily accessible – is thus key to achieving clinical effectiveness.

MakatiMed started subscribing to UpToDate, a clinical decision support tool by Wolters Kluwer, in 2016 for its students and trainee residents. With an extensive collection of medical information and news that is constantly updated, the software acted as a useful educational resource. As the tool advanced and developed, the hospital then extended the use of the tool to its clinical departments as well.

Dr Salvador highlighted the UpToDate tool is a good complement to the evidence-based care that MakatiMed practises. “Doctors want an app that they can trust, where they can easily access publications and research, and information is readily available… that is the benefit we are getting from an application like UpToDate,” he shared.

As technology continues to evolve, it is now opportune for hospitals to leverage on the range of intelligent tools available, which can sieve through large amounts of data and information, make sense of them and highlight relevant information or data points as recommendations for clinical decisions.

About UpToDate

An evidence-based clinical decision support solution used by more than 1.7 million clinicians in 190+ countries to make important day-to-day clinical decisions, UpToDate is the only resource associated with improved patient outcomes and hospital performance, and studies show that clinicians who use UpToDate change their decisions 30 percent of the time. More than 6,900 world-renowned physician authors, editors, and reviewers use a rigorous editorial process to synthesize the most recent medical information into trusted, evidence-based recommendations. Every day, clinicians view topics covering 25 specialties over 1.5 million times.

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