Doctors, specialists and other healthcare professionals need to be able to share the most up-to-date information, whether they are in a hospital or clinic, treating a patient, travelling between facilities or teleworking. They need communication and collaboration tools that help them connect with each other and with critical information to improve their performance and reduce errors.
Collaborations lead to tangible improvements in efficiency within healthcare systems, with the knock-on effect of better patient outcomes. Collaboration to improve care is essential and the importance of disseminating information throughout the entire team of people involved in patient care is crucial.
Healthcare is changing from a hierarchical model to a much more holistic approach where all parties involved have influence and have the ability to collect and distribute information. Having people collaborate in real time and doing that in a mobile way is key to the effective functioning of this new model. This is particularly relevant for “on the hoof” case workers who are out treating patients in the community and who need remote tools and solutions to help them work.
Up to this time, paper has done a bad job of collaboration as the patient is moving faster than the paper does. However, maintaining continuity of patient care is key to a successful collaboration. At Microsoft, we needed to look at how do you, rather than completely disrupt paper processes, collaborate in a modern way that safeguards patients and makes their care more efficient.
Our philosophy was, there has to be a better way of doing this, and it has to be cheaper and more suited to the processes that are already in place so that the retraining of clinicians and administrative personnel is minimal. In our experience, collaborations lead to tangible improvements and efficiency within healthcare systems, with the knock-on effect of better patient outcomes.
Collaborations are key to our company’s success and particularly within local markets where providers are working effectively to achieve the same objectives. As the health system re-orientates itself and patients around the concept of team-based collaboration forward thinking organisations who are open to collaboration will be incredibly well-placed. I don’t see any barriers to that apart from perhaps a philosophical or conservative issue, and I think that we should challenge the status quo on that.
Big heavy centralised projects, everywhere have had difficulty in achieving success and now it’s time to look at a different approach – a more agile, mobile approach, in Ireland as well as across the globe.
Take for example Vitro Software, I was extremely impressed by the speed with which they could enable the digitisation of health systems. We have since gone from strength to strength with the results they’ve been delivering in tandem with Microsoft devices and cloud based solutions.
The mix of collaboration and communication tools within Office 365—like Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync—supports faster, more efficient information sharing with colleagues and a closer connection with patients. Native Office applications for iOS and Android give health professionals rich, productive experiences across almost any device they choose. Digitization of health information and cloud-based services accessed by mobile devices provide a global reach and the ability to scale in a fraction of the time and cost as a hosted EMR.
There is a strong synergy between Vitro Software and Microsoft. It is a mobile-first way of thinking and together we are achieving it in a contemporary architectural way.
Operation Smile is another good example. Operation Smile has a very specific and very well-demonstrated set of processes, but really had no ability to be served by the current electronic medical record producers from the US for example.
They were delivering healthcare in an often unpredictable, disconnected manner in rural areas and we thought that was a very good match for the technological approach that Vitro Software had. Thankfully both parties were incredibly responsive, helping the digitisation of the processes for Operation Smile, which does some very worthy work, helping transform children and their lives. The data they collect using Vitro Software's, in tandem with our cloud based solutions is invaluable for medical research into cleft deformities.
Interestingly, a lot of success from Vitro Software's approach has been from an international perspective, namely outside of Ireland. This gives Vitro Software a lot of scope to deploy their solutions; both for those already in existence as well as those in the pipeline.
This technology has been tested in the hospital and clinic settings but a very important extension will be how that is expanded into community care and case management, which is where 70 per cent of the cost is. If you think about how it might be used by a mobile nurse who is managing the transition of a patient after they’ve been discharged. That handover between one agency and another agency is of course not always as smooth as it could be. Also if you look at the traditional electronic medical record system, they tend to be very hospital-focused. The fact that there are no real boundaries with this approach, it means that systems will be able to become more orientated around community care and case management, and it will be very successful in this market place too.
From a political and policy point of view, this delivers value faster and enables the digitisation of information that provides the basic underlying principles of patient care.
The approach is borne out of a desire to collaborate that is incredibly relevant to modern healthcare systems. It is much more agile, faster and cost-effective than traditional methods. We are now talking about delivering solutions in months rather than years, and weeks rather than months, which is making a difference to patient outcomes and represents a huge differentiation within the market place.
Neil Jordan - Worldwide General Manager of the Health Industry for Microsoft
Neil Jordan is the General Manager of Health for Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector. In this role, Jordan acts as chief strategist for the organization’s health industry initiatives worldwide, including defining and articulating the Microsoft vision for the future of healthcare and how Microsoft products, technologies and partner solutions will make it a reality.
Blending a deep background in healthcare-focused technology, Jordan leads Microsoft’s collaboration with an ecosystem of partners around the world to provide solutions that meet the specific needs of customers working to deliver better health outcomes for more people. Since the establishment of the global team, he has driven consistent growth of this multibillion-dollar business.
Watch an overview of Vitro